Whenever I drive over the 13th street bridge, though I drive this route several times a week, the river takes my breath away. Whatever is going on at home, or in our country, during pandemic, or daily routine, the river is there. It is a force entirely its own, it flows, it floods, it rages, it protects the life that depends on it. And yet it depends on us.
Though the river contains a power that can overtake a strong man given the right conditions, it is a natural resource vulnerable to man. Our actions directly affect the river, and have repercussions that then directly affect us and future generations. An apathy towards the river, or worse, a lifestyle of abuse towards nature can only result in a river that cannot provide for us the benefits it was meant to provide.
The river unites us. It flows through two cities not as a division but as a place to converge. It provides us recreational entertainment, a place to relax, kayak, even swim. It harbors the natural wildlife that we enjoy observing. Fish abound in healthy waters, providing fishermen recreation or even sustenance. And most importantly, the river is our source of water, the element necessary for life.
Unfortunately, the river is often taken for granted. People who have always grown up near this natural waterway forget that some cities do not have a river running right through the middle of it. Trash accumulates along the banks of the river when careless people leave it behind, and when the river floods, trash makes its way into the watershed, posing risks to wildlife, and contaminating the water source our community relies on. A river cannot trash itself. It cannot in and of itself, be unclean. If a river is trashy or dirty, it is a direct result of the carelessness of the people surrounding it. An apathy towards the river means less support for organizations and projects designed to work towards a healthier river and thriving community. The work meant to be shared by a community often falls on a few shoulders which can only affect a certain degree of change.
A clean river matters. The intention we put into caring for our community flows, like the water which unites us, into other aspects of our daily lives, and a mindful commitment to protecting our waterways can only positively affect our community.
People of all ages, income levels, and backgrounds enjoy the river. And when we unite as a community, committed to restoring and preserving this natural resource, we can thrive.
At Chattahoochee River Conservancy, we share a love for the river that inspires us to continue to work towards a healthy, clean, thriving waterway for all to enjoy. We are unspeakably grateful to you, our supporters, who work alongside us whether literally or figuratively, encouraging us in our efforts. We can do so much more for our river when we unite in our endeavors.
If you share our love for our river, please consider joining us as a member, organizing your own solo clean up, or signing up for volunteer opportunities which will resume when social distancing precautions are no longer necessary.
Goat Rock Lake is a 940 acre reservoir on the Chattahoochee River that lies between Lake Harding and Lake Oliver. With over 25 miles of shoreline bordered by the state of Georgia on one side and Alabama on the other, it is a peaceful body of water not frequently seeing recreational activity. The occasional fisherman can be seen enjoying the solitude that can be found in this little wild space. Because of its seclusion and serenity, various forms of wildlife take refuge along the lake. Cormorants, Canadian geese, ducks, ospreys, and even the majestic bald eagle can be spotted out and about along Goat Rock.
Though recreational activity on Goat Rock is limited, like many other natural spaces near human activity, trash has accumulated along the lake and can be seen littering the shoreline.
On Monday our organization spent several hours cleaning up trash along the shoreline of this waterway. We traveled north by boat on the Georgia side, stopping in heavily littered spots. The shoreline slopes in areas and forms sloughs where trash collects and accumulates during flooding, and we focused on these areas, covering them by foot and collecting as much trash as we were able to carry back to the boat. Piles of plastic bottles and large and small chunks of styrofoam as well as various other remnants of discarded waste were collected and hauled back to the boat in buckets and trash bags while we continued to make our way north.
When we ran out of time we ended our efforts for the day, hauling the trash we collected back to the arranged drop off site and leaving behind a much cleaner shoreline on Goat Rock Lake.
In all we covered about 3/4 of the Goat Rock shoreline on the Georgia side and collected 209 lbs of trash. We marked locations still needing to be cleaned up for when we return to continue our efforts.
If you’re interested in joining us for our next clean up, please check out our Facebook page for volunteer opportunities.