End of paddle GA In 2008, I was a hard-working teacher with few interests outside of my job and my family.  Luckily, I read an article in the AJC about Paddle Georgia, a trip that one participant described as “life changing”.  Little did I know how much that one small article would indeed change my life.  I went to Paddle Georgia 2008 with no paddling experience but with high expectations for a great trip.  By the end of the first day, I felt defeated.  Due to drought conditions, I spent much of the day getting out and dragging a heavy canoe, leaving the river after dark exhausted and discouraged.   I left the river trip the next morning despite it being a week long journey.  Fortunately, my story does not end there.  I realized that the paddlers who were having the most success that day were paddling kayaks, so I traded my heavy canoe for a small kayak and became a paddler.  I went back to Paddle Georgia in 2010 and since then have participated in six Paddle Georgia events, three Fall Floats, and several Hidden Gem paddles.  I have gotten to know the staff and members of the Georgia River Network and have been inspired by their passionate dedication to Georgia’s water resources and to sharing river adventures with its citizens. Through the Georgia River Network organization, I have met many  new friends and found a wonderful  river family.  My first “failed” trip with the Georgia River Network truly did change my life.  That trip was the beginning of  me living a life filled with adventures both on the water and off.  I am now a retired teacher and am having the time of my life hiking, camping, traveling, and paddling.  I am always ready for a new adventure, and I am very grateful to the Georgia River Network for helping set me on this wonderful journey.

- Karen Hill, Georgia River Network member 

 “It is always a pleasure to work with Georgia River Network either as a participant in one of their events or as a collaborator working on a common goal. Everything they do is highly organized and well run by helpful staff and volunteers.  I don’t hesitate to jump into a project or event with GRN because I know they will give 110% and work hard to create a positive outcome. We are so fortunate to have a statewide organization that focuses exclusively on protecting and providing access to Georgia’s Rivers.”

-Gina Rogers, Georgia Water Coalition coordinator and Conservation Issues Coordinator for Georgia Wildlife Federation 

I have been a supporter of the Georgia River Network ever since the first Paddle Georgia over 10 years ago. It was that experience that raised my awareness the Georgia River Network and their activities in working to protect the rivers and streams in our state from misuse and preserve them for generations to come.They are a good crew and I am proud to know them and support them in their work.                                              

  -Doug Mathews, Georgia River Network Supporter and Paddle Georgia Participant 

EPD Logo FINAL transparent2 1I’ve always been impressed by the work Georgia River Network has conducted on behalf of Georgia rivers. Whether it’s organizing the annual conferences or river gatherings, putting together paddling trips, or providing training opportunities for advocates of clean water, you can count on GRN to put on a good event. The work they do to protect, educate and advocate for Georgia waters is incredibly important: connecting like-minded people across the state in an effort to safeguard our aquatic natural resources. And, as much as they’ve provided for organizations across the state – helping raise funds for watershed organizations, helping to get better access to rivers for canoers and kayakers, helping with capacity building in fledgling groups – it is equally important that we support GRN and the services they provide for all Georgia citizens. Thank you Georgia River Network for all you do, we look forward to working with you more in 2017 and beyond!

-Harold Harbert, EPD Outreach Coordinator 

I did my first ever Paddle Ga trip in 2012 on the Altamaha River. It was basically my first time in a kayak and I was immediately hooked. I've made so many great new paddling friends since then through my attendance of different GRN events. The leadership and organization of these trips is beyond exceptional and I've always felt safe and well cared for. There are no greater people than paddling people!!

-Becky Parker, Georgia River Network Supporter and Paddle Georgia Participant 

Many organizations seem to be just on paper.  Georgia River Network is made of real people making real efforts to save our beautiful Georgia rivers by educating young and old about how important rivers are to our daily living.  Yes, it runs on donations and grants, but the most important part of GRN is sharing the experience of river loving by encouraging new and experienced paddlers to actually get on the river and learn how to care of this resource.  By involving others in activities by making them exciting and informational, GRN spreads the news via people that we need to take care of our rivers.  
Exciting, knowledgeable, down-to-earth leaders are the utmost importance of a successful organization that makes a difference in our world and in the future of the world.  Georgia River Network has those leaders.

-Cynthia Cox, Georgia River Supporter and Paddle Georgia Participant 

 "It's our pleasure to support GRN in every way we can. Georgia River Network did SO much for our Board, organization, river, and to get Flint Riverkeeper off the ground. GRN staff has meant so much to us, personally, in the professional development and activities. I can point to dozens of initiatives and victories that would have never happened without GRN and its wonderful staff. Thank y'all for WHO you are and WHAT you do. You are appreciated by many, particularly me."                                                                  
 - Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper

"Georgia River Network provides invaluable assistance on water trail work, especially if your county and city leaders understand the economic impact of increased tourism generated by the water trail (not to mention the health, peace of mind, and sense of community that a good water trail can contribute to).

I've been on the BRWA board most of the last 20 years, 16 of those as its treasurer. (I also must disclose I have been on the GRN Board since March 2010, although none of the specific water trails decisions were Board decisions).  BRWA got a Paddle Georgia grant in 2010 from GRN, which we used to put water trail kiosk maps on some of the access sites of the Broad.  After that, GRN chose the Broad River and BRWA as one of the water trails that got assistance during the year 2013 from Gwyneth Moody at GRN for organizational and start up work on the water trail.  Gwyneth helped with material for our website and for the Memorandums of Support that we got from 4 of the 5 counties in the middle to lower Broad River watershed, where most of the paddling sports occur.  She helped organize and educate the water trail committee through numerous meetings that first year when most of the legwork was developed on making the Broad River a water trail.  With committee input, Gwyneth developed a power point presentation that helped sell the county commissioners and the public on the need for a water trail (and what a water trail is).  She also helped with leads on available grants, which led to a grant from a private foundation that allowed BRWA to acquire property now owned by  Madison County to put in a new public access canoe launch (in progress now).  BRWA was already a non-profit organization, but as an all-volunteer organization with no staff, I doubt we could have gotten the water trail off to such a great start without the initial help from GRN.  I know we wouldn't have done it without GRN's focus on water trails, and GRN's online water trails toolkit and other resources.

If you want to encourage healthy, family friendly outdoor recreation that can also help inform and educate its users about the importance of clean water and clean, healthy streams, you can't beat a water trail.  It also helps bring fishermen, kayak fishermen, and recreational boaters together for a common and worthy cause.  (Plus, when talking with local governments for their support of the water trail, having the expertise of a state wide river advocate like GRN behind us went a long way)."

- Victor Y. Johnson, Broad River Watershed Association

"Georgia River Network is working for the rivers and streams that we all love by funding projects that will lead to tangible improvement of water quality. GRN has become an important partner with the Chattooga Conservancy by heping us Get the Dirt Out of Stekoa Creek, the most polluted tributary to the National Wild and Scenic Chattooga River."                                           

 - Andy Smith, Chattooga Conservancy




"The Satilla River Water Trail wouldn't have happened without the expertise and assistance from Georgia River Network and Gwyneth Moody. The trail idea began as an interest of a local county in connecting to and celebrating the river that flows through their backyard. We saw it as an ideal opportunity to engage this interested public and establish a partnership to create something even bigger and with a positive impact for the community and the river. In 2015, we worked closely and regularly with Gwyneth to begin the process of setting up a water trail partnership and organize a pathway forward to establishing the first Satilla River Water Trail for the region.

GRN's plethora of resources, including templates and toolkits, and their numerous contacts and networks from map making help to legal advice, plus their years of experience in assisting groups with water trails helped us tremendously with the the process. Now we have a strong partnership of over 15 entities with support from the neighboring municipalities and a soon to be official Satilla River Water Trail that includes printed maps, access signage, website, social media and kiosks. GRN and Gwyneth's help was essential to the success of our water trail, and for that we are forever grateful!"SatillaRK Logo

 - Ashby Nix Worley, Satilla Riverkeeper


SRKlogo400x400Each year, through a grant from the Turner Foundation, GRN provides re-grants to Georgia river groups to address the big issues facing their waterways. In 2012, GRN awarded Savannah Riverkeeper funds to address water quality issues in Augusta, GA. One way SRK is doing this is through their Canine Sewage Detection Program.

“The city of Augusta has repaired 5 significant [sewer] problems identified using the sewer K9. One of these was so substantial it required a main road in downtown Augusta to be closed for over a month, and the entire street for 3 blocks being dug up to replace [broken sewer] lines. We are very happy to see such significant amounts of money being allocated to such projects and view this as a sign of success.”

- Tonya Bonitatibus, Riverkeeper/ Executive Director, Savannah Riverkeeper

"In early 2011, South River Watershed Alliance submitted an application to Georgia River Network for a mini grant [to design SRWA's website]. I thought it would be a slam dunk. Convincing GRN's staff that our results were measurable was no easy task. After all, do you really know how many people will visit your website in a month or can you say with any level of certainty that the people who visit are the people you thought would visit? In the end, we successfully made our case and SRWA was awarded the grant which made our website possible. SRWA's website is a vital part of the South River's voice. Without GRN's help SRWA's work to restore and protect this magnificent natural resource would not be where it is today. GRN also helped SRWA get the word out another big way! In September 2012, the two organizations partnered to stage a paddling event dubbed "Unveiling Hidden Gems". In this instance, one of the gems was the South River. The event attracted a group of 75 ethnically diverse river enthusiasts and included both novice and experienced paddlers. Many of the folks participating had never heard of the South River!"

- Jacqueline Echols, South River Watershed Alliance

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to Georgia River Network. We could not progress on the coordination of a Yellow River Water Trail without all of your help. A small group of kayakers, paddle boarders and local citizens had our first meeting in August of 2011. Our goal was to organize and volunteer to provide an environmental group that watches and protects the Yellow River. We formed a committee, established board members and were all excited.  Our goals were to clean up, advocate, educate, preserve, monitor water quality and establish a water "trail". Well..... by the end of 2012...we had done a lot of talking but not a lot of progress.  In February of 2013, after a year of spinning our kayaks round and round, Gwyneth Moody excitedly informed us the Georgia River Network was coming to the rescue! She brought her motivating excited little self down to Porterdale, Georgia and lit a fire under quite a few folks. She is training us to form partnerships, providing the tools for submissions to local municipalities to designate access points, breaking it down into smaller responsibilities and delegating. Georgia River Network interns are helping build our website, organizing property owner listings and much, much more. Establishing the Yellow River as a Water Trail is important for so many reasons. We absolutely could not do this without the help of Georgia River Network!" 

- Tonya Bechtler, Yellow River Watershed Association

"On behalf of Off Grid Expeditions, Inc. I would like to take a minute to tell everyone how great Georgia River Network is and how instrumental they have been to our success. April Ingle has surrounded herself by one of the most experienced, knowledgable, dependable, and honorable group of river loving individuals I have ever met. Each member of the staff at GRN has become a close friend of mine and to all of us at Off Grid. At any given time I will drop whatever I'm doing to help and assist the efforts of GRN because they have already done so much for us. Up until a few years ago, no one knew about Off Grid Expeditions. Georgia River Network extended all of their resources with open arms to get us going in the right direction. Since then, we have worked with GRN members on dozens of events and have created an amazing alliance! Georgia River Network leads by example and they "walk the walk" when it comes to getting positive results for Georgia's rivers. I am humbled to be part of such an amazing organization."                                                                                                                                                          

- Jason Dupont, Off Grid Expeditions

"By far the biggest help from Jesslyn [Georgia River Network's Watershed Support Coordinator] was her positive support and brainstorming ideas. She was extremely supportive of me as a person and professional and gave me the confidence to stick with the work...figuring out a lot of tough decisions along the way. She was in-tune with both mine and the organization's needs and understood exactly what I was looking to accomplish. She provided helpful materials that I used in crafting a job description and updated employee handbook. I will use these documents in 2014 and hopefully can continue working with Jesslyn on future improvements to our organization."

- Emily Markesteyn, Ogeechee Riverkeeper