Much of our impetus for this project was derived from the pleasure inherent in the concept and the exercise of canoeing the entire navigable length of a river. In the summer of 2001, three of our party canoed the Oconee and Altamaha Rivers from Milledgeville to Darien. The experience spurred a desire not only to do the same trip again, while putting in higher in the hills where the Oconee rises, but also to paddle the Ocmulgee and its tributaries, so as to cover most all of the basin of the mighty Altamaha. Add to this the great diversity in physical province, habitat type, and degree of human impact, that is so clearly illuminated by a look at where all of Georgia’s rivers flow, and you have much of our reason for wanting to do so much paddling. Navigating a single river (or a whole basin) from source (or close to it) to sea is exciting; traveling several rivers this way provides for useful comparisons and contrasts.
As a group, we share interests in natural history, ecology, conservation, and literature. Of the four core members of our group, all are graduates of the University of Georgia. Taken together, our previous employment in the realm of biological fieldwork has involved fish sampling in the north Georgia mountains and Piedmont, woodland songbird surveys in the Piedmont and on Sapelo Island, work in the salt marsh at Sapelo, stream ecology studies in Puerto Rico, USGS sea bird study in Alaska, marsh bird study in the upper Midwest, tropical bird study in Hawaii, and an NPS riparian vegetation study in Utah. Dean also worked for a time at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in southeast Georgia, an edifying experience not irrelevant to our present concerns. These experiences capture our original essence at the outset of Georgia River Survey, yet we all continue learning about and promoting a nature ethic through various avenues, including, but not limited to, teaching and writing about nature and its conservation.