Row, row, row your boat

Yel­low River Wa­ter Trail rec­og­nized with Out­stand­ing Out­reach and Part­ner­ship Award

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - MERIS LUTZ [email protected]­

The re­cent rains may have kept kayaks and ca­noes off the river, but thanks to the Yel­low River Wa­ter Trail, Ge­or­gians will be able to en­joy the wa­ter­shed for years to come.

The Yel­low River Wa­ter Trail is lead­ing con­ser­va­tion ef­forts in the state, win­ning the 2014 Out­stand­ing Out­reach and Part­ner­ship Award from the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources’ Adopt-A-Stream pro­gram.

“The first step in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is aware­ness, and aware­ness only hap­pens through ef­fec­tive out­reach,” the pro­gram said in a state­ment hon­or­ing the YRWT. “By get­ting cit­i­zens on and around the river and pro­vid­ing re­sources to be­come more en­gaged, the YRWT is in­creas­ing aware­ness of wa­ter qual­ity is­sues in the wa­ter­shed.”

The YRWT was sin­gled out for cre­at­ing a strong net­work of com­mu­nity part­ner­ships by or­ga­niz­ing river cleanups, pad­dle trips, and wa­ter qual- ity mon­i­tor­ing. The YRWT, which pro­vides ac­cess to 53 miles of river pass­ing through four coun­ties, also does ed­u­ca­tional out­reach, in­clud­ing pre­sen­ta­tions on lo­cal river wildlife.

Tonya Bechtler, one of the lead­ers of the YRWT, said the award is im­por­tant be­cause it rec­og­nizes the peo­ple who have been work­ing tire­lessly for four years.

“We bring the com­mu­nity up close and per­sonal to their back yard rivers, and when you get peo­ple to en­joy the riv- er they will want to pro­tect it,” she said. “It’s about aware­ness, en­gage­ment, and fu­ture pro­tec­tion.”

The YRWT is cur­rently work­ing with the Ge­or­gia River Net­work and the North­east Ge­or­gia Re­gional Coun­cil to fi­nal­ize the wa­ter trail map, which will be used as a tem­plate for the rest of the state.

Bechtler urged any­one wish­ing to get in­volved to fol­low the YRWT on Face­book, Twit­ter, and Instagram for up­com­ing events, or to e-mail [email protected] yel­lowriver­wa­ter­

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