Water trails workshop to be held in Porterdale

PORTERDALE -- The Georgia River Network will host its 4th Water Trails Workshop in Porterdale this weekend.

The event is open to the public and registration is under way now online at www.garivers.org. Admission to the event is $10 and includes morning coffee and lunch.

The workshop is entitled "Water Trails that Work -- Discovering the Keys to Successful Water Trail" and takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Porterdale Mill Lofts at 1109 Main St. The workshop is bringing together experts and representatives from around the state to speak on the crucial elements of water trails.

Speakers will include Katherine Edmonds, the American Rivers' Southeast Forest and Water coordinator, who will talk about economic benefits of water trails, promoting river recreation and how to use water trails to bring tourism and promote conservation.

Bob Thompson, Porterdale city manager, will speak on how comprehensive planning through a charrette set the stage for the city's community agenda related to planning the Yellow River Water Trail.

Other speakers are Matthew Pate, programs manager for Forsyth County Parks and Recreation; Dan MacIntyre, with Georgia Canoeing Association; Dave Teffeteller of the Coosawattee Watershed Alliance; Mike Crook of Middle Chattahoochee River Stewards; William Tietjen of Georgia Adopt-a-Stream; Bonny Putney, outreach manager for Chattahoochee Riverkeepers; Jamie Jones, owner of Meanders River Restoration; Harold Harbert, outreach manager of EPD's Watershed Protection Branch; and Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network's Community Programs coordinator.

Georgia River Network is supportive of local efforts to establish a water trail on the Yellow River, Moody said.

She said the network provides assistance to groups interested in developing water trails in their communities. The intent of the workshop is to "give people a platform to share ideas and network and present any challenges and success stories they have had on their water trail developments in their communities," Moody said.

A water trail is referred to as a stretch of water along a river or shoreline that has been mapped out with the intent of creating an educational, scenic, and enjoyable experience for recreational users.

The components of establishing a successful trail, and the key topics of the workshop, are planning, community support, conservation, public information, recreational opportunities, education and trail maintenance, Moody said.

There is currently no state designation for a water trail in Georgia; the only way to be officially designated is on the federal level, Moody said, but that can be competitive and time-consuming. But Georgia River Network has standards to guide local groups on establishing a water trail.

For more information, email Gwyneth@garivers.org.