Celebrate river conservation efforts and support the future of river recreation.

Honor Georgia river conservationist President Jimmy Carter, celebrate the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail and support public access to Georgia’s waterways at the Georgia Rivers Gala on August 22nd at the Atlanta History Center.
Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception, old-fashioned fish fry, brief program, and live music by Rob Jordan & Friends.
Jimmy Carter on the Chattooga, 1973 Photo credit: Doug Woodward 

Honor the river and coastal conservation legacy of President Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter will receive the River Hero award for his enduring environmental legacy for Georgia’s rivers. Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason Carter, former Georgia State Senator, will accept the River Hero award on behalf of his grandfather. 

President Jimmy Carter loved spending time outdoors, especially on rivers, and preserved many wild spaces for outdoor recreation. After paddling the Flint River, then-governor Jimmy Carter vetoed plans for three dams proposals on the Flint. After paddling over Bull Sluice, a class V rapid on the Chattooga River, he protected the Chattooga River from dam building and designated the Chattooga as a Wild and Scenic River, the first river to receive the title nationwide.

As president from 1977 to 1981, Jimmy Carter continued to protect water resources and encourage river recreation. He de-authorized more than 16 national water reclamation projects that would have harmed riverways, and encouraged river recreation and signed into law the legislation that designated land to the future Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and the 48-mile Chattahoochee River Water Trail that flows through Atlanta.

President Jimmy Carter also worked to protect water on the coast by creating the Shore Protection Act that saved Little Tybee Island from mining, and the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act that banned mining in the marsh. These success stories are proof points that our current legislature could save the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from a proposed mine.

Celebrate the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail

The 120 miles of the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail is what allows visitors to explore the over 400,000 acres of wetlands and swamps within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Paddlers can float through cypress forests, wet prairies, and pine uplands with plenty of opportunity to see a variety of wildlife. The Okefenokee  is threatened by a proposed mining that would divert water from the swamp making portions of the water trails inaccessible.

We will honor Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Manager Michael Lusk for his continued efforts to protect the vital waterways within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Manager Michael Lusk testified at the Capitol in support of the Okefenokee Protection Act to ban mining on Okefenokee’s Trail Ridge.  USFWS sent this letter  with supporting science to Georgia EPD asking them to deny permits to mine to Twin Pines. 

Water Trails Champion: Georgia Canoeing Association

Through the years, Georgia Canoe Association has been a valued partner in helping Georgia River Network protect and connect people with Georgia’s rivers. They continue to contribute to our environmental protection initiatives, support our Paddle Georgia trips, and sponsor youth to connect new paddlers to our rivers. Georgia Canoe Association maintains the River Access Fund and is active in defending legal challenges to protect paddlers’ access to Georgia’s waterways.

Corporate River Champion: Patagonia

While Patagonia has been a world leader on environmental issues ranging from climate change to dam removal, the Patagonia retail store in Atlanta has been a driving force in local environmental activism. This one store supports countless environmental organizations through monetary and product donations, funnels its associates to volunteer at those organizations, and provides its retail space as a place for environmental advocates to engage with their customers.

The Atlanta store alone has invested $1.3 million in local environmental organizations since 1996, typically awarding upwards of $75,000 annually, mostly to small grassroots organizations.

Patagonia Atlanta has consistently supported Georgia River Network river protection and connection programs since 2002.

Recognize Freedom to Float Advocates

Our fight to protect the Freedom to Float would not be possible without the many river recreation leaders, guides, outfitters, and paddlers who are working with us to advocate for legislation that will keep Georgia’s rivers open for river recreation.

Enter to win a new kayak! 

Support Georgia water trails and river conservation by purchasing raffle tickets for a chance to win a new Wave Sport Hydra 145 LV Kayak 2024!

Tickets are $5!

The Wave sport Hydra 145 LV Kayak is 54lbs and 14’6″. Read all about it here.

The raffle drawing will take place on August 22 at 8pm at our Gala at the Atlanta History Center. The winner will be announced on August 23 on social media and email. If you win the boat, you must pick it up from the Atlanta area. 

Thanks to Cedar Creek Outdoor Center for donating this kayak!

Support public access to Georgia’s waterways

The quality of life for all Georgians is greatly enhanced by improved public access to all of the state’s waterways.

This year the Georgia General Assembly passed HB 1172, a bill designed to clarify Georgians’ right to boat, fish and hunt on our rivers and streams. Legislators also passed a resolution to create a legislative study committee to investigate which streams in Georgia are navigable. In the process, legislators signaled a strong intention to restrict our rights to freely explore all of Georgia’s rivers and streams, indicating their interest toward using the 1863 definition of navigable streams, originally designed for river freight, as the standard to judge where river recreation should be allowed to occur.

Georgia River Network is advocating for legislation that will protect the public’s right of passage on streams capable of supporting small, person-powered watercraft. This kind of “recreational boat test” is already in place and working in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Georgia River Network is the only statewide organization dedicated solely to protecting Georgia’s waterways and connecting everyone to experience and advocate for Georgia’s rivers. We connect people with our water resources by developing water trails and recreational river guides, by organizing paddling adventures and boating safety classes and by providing citizens with opportunities to take action to protect our rivers.

Thank you to our sponsors

as of July 2024

Georgia River Guardian

James & Kim Butler


Paddling Protector

Melissa Brunnen Jernigan


River Hero 

Dan & Elise MacIntyre

Rabun Neal


Creek Champion 

National Christian Foundation

Rita Spalding

Elizabeth Spalding


Stream Steward

Mildred and John Spalding

Low Country Catering

Cedar Creek Outdoor Center

Atlanta History Center


126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) | info@garivers.org