bees knees

For thousands of years the mighty Altamaha River has flowed unimpeeded through south central Georgia, ever bound for the sea. Formed by the confluence of the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Ohoopee Rivers near Lumber City, the Altamaha River watershed is the largest river system east of the Mississippi, offering priceless habitat along its 140 mile course. Over 100 species of rare or endangered plants and animals find shelter in this basin, including the Georgia spiny mussel, Atlantic sturgeon, the swallow-tailed kite, the American oystercatcher and the piping plover. Further inland, the watershed includes old stands of longleaf pine, colonies of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher turtles, Alabama milkvine (Matelea alabamensis) and other rare plants.

In 1999 the Mexico-based Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network recognized the Altamaha River Delta in Glynn and McIntosh Counties as a major reserve for shorebirds, one of only 40, highlighting its importance as a stopover for migratory and wintering birds traveling between the Artic and South America. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources estimates this area supports at least 55,000 species of seabirds and shorebirds annually, stating "There are very few places as valuable to such a large and diverse number of coastal birds in all the southeast United States."

Hwy 121 Bridge - West View
Appling/Tattnall County Line

Designated a Bioreserve in 1991 by The Nature Conservancy, The Altamaha River is on their list of 75 "Last Great Places" in the world. Currently, a 6 year $4.2 million dollar project funded thru a grant from the National Science Foundation involves researchers from the University of Georgia Marine Institue on Sapelo Island, Georgia Tech, Indiana University and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Focusing on the Altamaha River's complex system of water movement, this study will help to clarify relationships between intertidal creeks and marshes as well as long term trends in land use patterns and the withdrawal of freshwater from the watershed.

The Altamaha River is a little known paradise for paddling, bird watching, camping, fishing, powerboating, and hiking. Photographers, artists, writers, and nature-lovers of all ages may enjoy the abundance of this pristine waterway. Boat ramps, picnic areas and hiking trails along the waterway are provided by state, federal and county facilities. As we explore this river we will share with you our information, hoping to blaze a trail of new awareness thru firsthand experience.

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Already I can report that, on a recent Sunday afternoon in Big Hammock WMA, we spotted 2 deer, 8 wild hogs, a wild turkey, 6 white ibis, a great white heron, a map turtle, a rattlesnake and a king snake within a 2 hour period. One can only imagine the adventures yet to come as we venture further west into Appling County and beyond.

Our challenge is to enjoy, protect and preserve this treasure for ourselves and for those who follow. Support the Altamaha Riverkeepers: "We ALL live downstream!"

sweet slough
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