ATLANTA — House Resolution 281, which was assigned to the Natural Resources & Environment Committee and is a resolution of support recognizing and encouraging the proliferation and use of water trails in Georgia, passed a committee vote unanimously last week.
HR 281 also “recognizes Georgia River Network and their water trail partners for their dedicated public service to the State of Georgia and encourages the exploration of existing water trails and the development of future water trails around the state.”
Water trail partnerships throughout Georgia can receive an appropriate copy of this resolution suitable for framing and distributing on social media by request from the Clerk of the House by calling (404) 656-5015 or online at legis.ga.gov.
A water trail is similar to a hiking trail but on a waterway with safe public access points, information kiosks and signage, and family friendly amenities such as picnic areas and facilities along the route.
Georgia River Network, a statewide nonprofit organization, requires that a water trail fulfill six criteria to be considered “established” and part of the Georgia Water Trails Network. There are currently 15 established and 17 developing water trails in Georgia.
“Water trails have many benefits for relatively little investment, and they can help diversify local economies,” said Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network’s director of Programs & Outreach, in a statement.
Georgia River Network has been assisting communities throughout the state in the development of water trails as a way to boost economic development, bring in tourism and increase recreational opportunities.
“Georgia River Network’s Water Trails Technical Assistance Program helps communities form comprehensive water trail stakeholder partnerships as well as providing them with guidance and resources to begin developing a sustainable water trail.” said Moody. “It’s a win-win for everyone — and most importantly our rivers, as water trails are an effective way to introduce people to river issues and to engage them in the protection of their local waterways.”
Establishing water trails and the creation of new opportunities for public enjoyment of state waters is also supported by the Georgia Water Coalition, an alliance of 230 organizations committed to ensuring that water is managed fairly for all Georgians and protected for future generations.
The group said in its 2017 biennial report: “All Georgians and visitors to the state should have opportunities to enjoy recreation on Georgia’s waters. One way to improve the public’s access to and enjoyment of state waters is to establish and fund a statewide water trail system. Water trails provide extremely cost-effective recreation opportunities and are dynamic creators of tourism and economic development in rural areas. Users of trails often become dedicated advocates for rivers.”
Georgia River Network is offering Water Trails Workshops as part of its Weekend for Rivers Conference for communities interested in building a water trail. The workshops will take place on April 29 at the Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge.
Visit http://garivers.org/2012-04-17-22-59-07/weekend-for-rivers.html to learn more and register.