Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trail Dedication at the Ulcofauhatchee River






The Alcovy River is an 80-mile Georgia river with its headwaters beginning in Gwinnett County in Metropolitan Atlanta. It was originally named the Ulcofauhatchee River by the Muskogean Indians but it was changed by new American settlers to “Alcovy River.” Settlers moved on this land before the treaty of limits between the Unites States and the Creek nation of Indians on January 22, 1818. “Alcovy” is certainly easier to say than the original name. Below is a picture of the river I took in May 2009.


(Click on any picture or collage to enlarge them, and click again on each picture)

The Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) owns several hundred acres of land bordering the river in two other counties, Newton and Walton. Their headquarters the “Alcovy Conservation Center” are located on 119-acres on the Alcovy Greenway – a continuous system of public and privately owned natural areas and open spaces bordering the Alcovy River.




My husband received an invitation from GWF to attend the dedication of a new trail and information kiosk located at the “Alcovy River East End” a 16.7 acre property the Federation purchased in 2002. This is how on November 1st we drove the 1 hour 40 minutes to Newton County (about 36 miles east of downtown Atlanta.) We were pleased to be outdoors again after our last drive in John’s Mountain (posted on this blog last week.) First we listened to Jerry McCollum, GWF president, and Ms Terry Tatum, 5-Star Project Officer, giving information on the river and the partnership.




The 5-Star Wetlands Restoration Project is made up of a dozen different organizations and their members involved in the reclamation and restoration of this piece of land and river which had been the dumping ground for construction debris.


(photo courtesy Georgia Wildlife Federation)


Jerry gave a certificate of recognition to Scout Troop 222, one of the twelve partners. The troop spent many hours working on the East End project assisting in trail construction and maintenance. Jerry then gave another certificate of recognition to the original team that started the environmental study on the Alcovy River and its long term protection. My husband was one of them. (Jerry graciously acknowledged he had been given his first job as an intern when my husband was Chief of Resource Planning at the Department of Natural Resources under Governor Jimmy Carter.)




All the attendees were presented with a guide on the Alcovy River in Newton County. The beautifully illustrated magazine called Ulcofauhatchee: A guide to life along the Alcovy River explains the history of the river, its ecological significance and the work done by the 5-Star Partners.


(Guide and photographs copyright the Georgia Wildlife Federation)

This guide has many stunning photographs showing historical places along the river, like a mid-century cemetery, the remaining walls of a gristmill and of a bridge burned by Sherman’s Army during the Civil War. It also gives a detailed map, which could be used as a driving map, of all the former plantations that settled near the river.




The Alcovy River starts as a small and creek-like stream then widens with a shoal at mid-run to finally end with a series of white water rapids. I did not see the shoal or the rapids but found these pictures on the Net (courtesy Georgia Tourism and Courtney McGough.)




In May 2009 we visited GWF Alcovy Conservation Center and hiked the trails bordering the river (see post here .) I was surprised to see swamps. My husband explained that they were a relic from the time the oceans receded eons ago. The swamps act as filter and keep the Alcovy one of the cleanest of all the Piedmont Rivers. At the time, in spring 2009, I took pictures of the Tupelo Gum trees (Nyssa aquatica) shown below and at the top of this post.




I wish I could have seen the swamps with autumn foliage as pictured on this page of the guide below, but we were going to East End to look at the new trail.



In the Muskogean Indian language “Ulcofauhatchee” means River among the PawPaw trees. Hatchee means river – there are several US river names ending with “hatchee” like the Loxahatchee River in Florida, the Buttahatchee River in Alabama, the Sequatchie River in Tennessee, etc. After the presentation refreshments were served. They included home-made cookies containing local Pawpaw fruits. They were tasty – I had never eaten a Pawpaw or even seen one. I found these pictures on the Net (authors unknown.)




The guide indicated that these fruits can still be found in organic farms specializing in native fruits and vegetables. I’ll try to find some.



The attendees then drove to the Alcovy River at East End for the unveiling of the new information kiosk and trail. With the shadows it was not easy to take a good picture.




We listened as it was explained how the Scouts and volunteers spent many hours clearing Chinese privet, an invasive species. We then walked along the new trail bordered by fallen young trees.




Some of the group walked to a canoe launch but I did not go as the trail went down a steep hill. I went to look at the river in a small area with many dead-falls.




In the 1960s the State of Georgia had plans for numerous watersheds to be dredged, including the Alcovy River. The fight to stop dredging and channelization of the Alcovy River in Atlanta and before Congress in Washington, DC, drew national attention. This started a movement to end the damaging practice which destroys floodplain and riverine habitat throughout the country. The battle to save this small river in a rural area of Georgia ended the destructive way we deal with watersheds. This also changed the way governments managed watersheds – the little, swampy, Alcovy River made a significant impact for the good of our environment.


32 comments:

RennyBA said...

Again a wonderful, readable, informative and interesting post - thanks for sharing!

Also here to invite you over to a celebration ;-)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

So very interesting, my dear....And what important Hitory this lovely river made---not just for Georgia, but for all rivers in our Beautiful Country....

Thérèse said...

Dommage que les noms d'origine soient abandonnes...
On n'a qu'une envie en decouvrant ce site c'est d'y aller se promener en toutes saisons.
Un magnifique exemple ecologique!

Wanda..... said...

Enjoyed reading of your lovely Alcovy River. Reminds me of our Little Miami River, which was designated Ohio's first National Wild and Scenic River around 1970. There's now a scenic bike trail along most of it.

Lonicera said...

My favourite pictures are always streams and rivers, particularly in dappled shade, with rocks. I go into the image, sit on a rock and gaze at the stream for a while, then shake myself awake and move on. Yours have had me idling for far too long! Lovely post, thank you.
Caroline

Filip Demuinck said...

A nice place for walking.

Greetings,
Filip

The Broad said...

Such a beautiful place and such an interesting history. What an extraordinary fruit the paw paw looks to be -- it sounds delicious. The woodland looks very similar to that of north western Connecticut where I grew up -- and the river is remarkably like parts of the Housatonic -- another Indian name and I'm happy to say it hasn't changed!

Nance said...

Living long in SC (rather against my preference), has taught me to value and appreciate Southern wetland ecosystems. I greatly enjoyed this post!

Ann said...

such a marvelous post!!
thank you so much for sharing!!

Frances said...

Vagabonde, you are a born teacher!

Taking this tour with you and learning so much about the area of the Alcovy River, and about what dedicated folks did to aid the environment is really inspiring.

I particularly appreciate the references to the boy scouts. It's very encouraging to realize that very young folks are learning the value of our beautiful land and water.

You are teaching me, born in the South, a lot about life far away from my current home in New York.

Many thanks! xo

Pierre BOYER said...

Great project !

Pierre

Marja said...

I love rivers and I am going to visit my friend one day in Georgia Look forwards to see it with my own eyes Good on the scouts. I've been a scout leader for a long time in the past Great fun

Kay said...

This is such a wonderful conservation project! They should really be congratulated for their hard work.

I didn't know that's what a paw paw looks like. Very interesting!

Fennie said...

Most informative post, Vagabonde. But why aren't Paw-Paw grown commercially. I would I am sure enjoy a fruit that tasted like custard - and if it grows naturally. Hatchee sounds like 'hatchery' but I suppose this is coincidence. The native languages weren't written, were they?
(At least before the Europeans arrived). Why was this, I wonder? As always your posts prompt more questions.

Pondside said...

Til today, I'd never heard of a Paw Paw, nor did I know that Hatchee means river - now am going through the list of place names with Hatchee at the end!
It's amazing what vision and hard work can accomplish - team work and dedication - what a beautiful place that's been restored.

Pat said...

They should be proud - restoring such beauty.
I kept thinking of that sad song of the young woman who threw 'something' from the .......hatchee Bridge.

PEA said...

How wonderful that you were able to take part in the dedication of the new trail! My youngest son Corey works in the Land Reclamation and Restoration department for the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario and through him I've learned so much about how important it is to get rid of invasive plant species, especially those that are not native. They've also planted thousands of trees. I found the info on the Ulcofauhatchee River so interesting and I for one would love to be able to go on that trail. I love walking in trails like that!! Beautiful photos as well:-) xoxo

Tim said...

Very informative article and beautiful photos!

Jeanie said...

We have a Paw Paw in Michigan, but I never realized it was a fruit! Not quite sure where I thought it came from, but that was probably the last thing in my mind!

What a fabulous resource this place is, and to see it so beautifully supported is truly heartwarming. I love that the Scouts participated. And how wonderful to be there for the dedication. I'm sure the photos in the book are glorious, but somehow, I'm not sure they could compare to yours.

I must tell you I always appreciate the wonderful things I learn whenever I visit this spot. Your writing tells the story, weaving wonderful anecdotes and bits of history and knowledge without ever getting "routine." What a lovely spot to visit on a Sunday morning.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Another interesting and very informative post. We used to grow pawpaws in S. Africa but the tree looks quite different to the one in your photo. Diane

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful post about a beautiful area, Thank you, Vagabonde. You remind me that I really want to locate a paw paw tree -- I know they grow in our area but I've never seen (or tasted) one.

Val said...

well big congratulations for saving this beautiful wetland and river watershed, and for changing the course of history; those pawpaws are interesting; we have pawpaws here but not like that - ours originate in india i think; like the mangoes and tomatoes etc
they are generally large and orange with lots of tiny round black seeds that look like peppercorns and can be used as such.
i love the name of this river! the original name altho i can see why they shortened it:)

Ginnie said...

Once again, dear Vagabonde, you're teaching me about the state where I lived for so many years! There is a Paw Paw, MI, if I'm not mistaken, so I'd love to know more about that fruit. I LOVE mangos so I bet I'd really like paw paws! :)

Ruth said...

This is a thrillingly encouraging post. To see the difference your husband's team made, and how this river project changed policy moving forward is brilliant. Like Ginnie, I did not know about the paw paw fruit, though we have Paw Paw, MI. I never knew what it meant, but wondered about something Native American. It sounds delicious. And now I wonder if they can grow in Michigan.

Barb said...

It's great anytime more green space is added for preservation. The trails along the Alcovy look scenic. I must admit, my attention was really riveted at he mention of cookies - I have never even seen a Paw Paw!

Ann said...

Very interesting post with nice pictures... love those kind of places.

For awhile I thought that the Pawpaw fruit is a mango, looks very similar on the outside.

Reader Wil said...

Merci de cette belle promenade! Nous avions aussi
eu ces fruits en
Indonésie et dans le jardin de ma fille en Australie, mais ils sont plus grands par là. En Indonésie on les appelle papaja.
Merci de votre visite de mon blog.

Al said...

That looks like a lovely trail, and a fun ceremony. Excellent photos!

Olga said...

I agree with this post. I have so many traumatic feelings in regards to people using up nature and giving nothing in return, even though they demand so much more than they're able to give.

Friko said...

It's good to learn that there are people dedicated to preserving special environments, rather than to exploit and destroy them.

This is a very interesting article.

yves1947 said...

HELLO VAGABONDE
une petite visite de courtoisie pour te remercier de tes commentaires sur mes blogs : c'est un réel plaisir de te lire.
tes reportage photos et tes textes sont très enrichissant et me font découvrir un monde que je ne connaissait pas : merci pour le partage
bon jeudi
***bisous***

Emm said...

What a beautiful river and what a travesty that people would dump construction waste in it. I think it is great that people are working so hard to conserve it. I love paw paw! I haven't ever seen it in UK but I was weaned on them in South Africa.

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