Hey
all you Georgia paddlers, hope you had a safe and fun holiday and
July. Keep praying for rain. Just got back from Paddle Georgia on the
Flint River. Like all of Georgia’s rivers, the Flint is extremely
low and suffers from lack of rain. GCA had a large presence with GCA
safety boats guarding the 300+ paddlers on the Day 2 journey through
Yellow Jacket Shoals and during the week with deadfall and technical
places.

Vincent
Payne did an awesome job giving the safety talk before the paddle
started with the “Paddle Safety Bingo” game. Even those of us who
have heard the safety talk too many times to count listened and
learned something. If you ever have to do a safety spiel for a large
group, this is an effective, fun way to get the job done.

The
Flint is extremely clean, but we had decided months before to do a
clean up on Monday’s paddle. I learned a lesson about assumptions,
and did not say what NOT to pick up since I had seen very little
trash of any sort the first 2 days. We had a huge shock when piles of
tires and trash were brought in that evening. One canoe with 3
teenagers had 13 tires in it! (Don’t ask, you need to see the
pictures). We ended up with 35 tires and over 800 pounds of trash.
The DNR Ranger told me it was the biggest clean up ever on that
section of the Flint!

Most
of the tires were placed long ago by fishermen to give fish a place
to nest. We have seen the same thing in Lake Lanier. Tires were
generally considered “non-hazardous” and OK to use for this
purpose. The research has proved different and we have begun removing
them. If you remove tires from a river, please keep the following in
mind. If the tire is submerged, will remain so and is adding
stability to the riverbank and is not a hazard, I generally suggest
leaving it. If it is sticking out and has exposed areas and might be
a breeding place for mosquitoes, it is an excellent candidate for
removal.

Be
extremely careful when handling and removing tires. They harbor
critters that can bite, sting and generally cause you to have an
unpleasant journey. Ask Jim Albert: I have not seen him since he
helped us on an Upper Chattahoochee River event and had multiple
critters from a tire gang up and attack him in his canoe. Tires also
have mud, sand and rocks and are extremely heavy. Balancing a tire on
a kayak is almost impossible: canoes have more success but they still
take excellent balance and control. Unless you have a place to off
load your tire quickly you will be traveling down the river with the
beast.

The
other issue is disposal. Tires can not be put in a regular dumpster,
they have to be recycled. If you don’t have a trash collection
exemption or figure it out ahead of time, they can cost $3.00+ each
and you have to get them to the recycle center. If you are planning a
clean up, tires must be addressed and disposal determined before you
start the event. If you have some tires that are bugging you, by all
means get them, but if you are just generally doing a clean up, I
suggest “NO TIRES.”

Rivers
Alive’s (www.riversalive.org) 10th year of supporting waterway
clean ups is this year. We are producing special T-shirts and will
have 2 shirt choices in the offering along with boat stickers.
Registration is open so get your river event on the calendar.

Upper
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (www.chattahoochee.org) is holding the
first headwaters “Save the Hooch” event at Indigo Joe’s
Restaurant in Cumming on July 26. This is a Sweetwater Beer event, so
beer will be featured and on sale along with music and food. Come
help us “give our liver to save the river.” Times and other
information on the UCR website, See you on the river, keep it clean!

by
Bonny Putney, GCA “Trash Queen”
From The Eddy Line, August
2008