Georgia River Network asking riverlovers to choose Paddle Georgia 2020 destination

Participants engage in a water battle during Paddle Georgia 2019 on the Withlacoochee River. This year’s event was held June 15-21 and attracted nearly 350 people to far south Georgia and north Florida for seven days of paddling.

ATHENS — Georgia River Network is calling on the state’s river lovers to help the organization choose the destination for next year’s Paddle Georgia, a weeklong canoe/kayak adventure that will take place the week of June 21, 2020.

Fresh off Paddle Georgia 2019, which was held June 15-21 on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers, a trip on which the Athens-based river protection group celebrated the event’s 15th anniversary, GRN officials said that in 2020 they will attempt to surpass one of the most successful journeys in the event’s history.

Paddlers can choose their favorite from a list of seven suggested rivers spanning the length and breadth of Georgia at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PG2020destination. The destination receiving the most votes will get first priority.

Suggested destinations include the upper Flint River in central Georgia from Upson to Macon counties, the Savannah River between Augusta and Sylvania, the St. Mary’s River along the Georgia-Florida state line, the Satilla River in coastal Georgia, the Oconee and Altamaha rivers between Soperton and Baxley, the Broad and Savannah rivers from near Royston to Augusta, and a trip featuring three rivers in southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle: the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola rivers.

“With more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in the state, there’s no shortage of places to explore, and the rivers are incredibly diverse from rocky, shoal-filled streams in north Georgia to lazy blackwater rivers in the South,” Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia’s coordinator, said. “This year, we want our supporters to have a say in where we journey.”

Since the first Paddle Georgia in 2005, GRN has introduced more than 5,000 people to Georgia’s rivers with participants traveling more than 1,500 miles on 15 different Georgia rivers. Last month during the 15th anniversary trip, the organization surpassed the $500,000 mark for funds generated for river protection.

The 2020 edition will mark the 16th year for the annual sojourns.

“The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of our rivers, raise money to support river protection efforts and to establish water trails across Georgia for rural economic development,” Rena Stricker, executive director for GRN, said.

“When people explore a river and develop a relationship with it, they are much more likely to take action to protect our rivers.”

Paddle Georgia, attracting 300 to 450 people annually, is considered the country’s largest weeklong canoe/kayak camping journey. GRN is a nonprofit organization working to ensure a clean water legacy by engaging and empowering Georgians to protect and restore the state’s rivers from the mountains to the coast.

More information can be found at www.garivers.org/paddle-georgia.

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