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Are you Paddling for the Cause in the Georgia River Network Paddle-a-thon?

May 3, 2023

By: Andrea White, Georgia River Network Community Programs Coordinator 

Listen, if you are paddling this year anyway, and considering signing up for one or more Georgia River Network (GRN) paddle trips or classes, then you might as well bring all those paddle strokes to bear to help Georgia’s rivers while you are at it!

GRN is celebrating its 25th anniversary with Paddle-A-Thon — a friendly competition inviting paddlers to explore Georgia’s expanding water trail system while competing for over $8,000 in prizes and bragging rights in more than a dozen categories! The competition began at the start of the year and runs until September 6.

In addition to fundraising, GRN is introducing non-fundraising categories to get more people involved in the river movement with prizes for the individual with most miles paddled, most trash removed, and most kayak fishing trips. Participants can also organize teams to compete for prizes, including a paddle trip and dinner party for up to 25 people.

The top ten contestants who raise the most money for river protection will vie for a host of prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000 in the form of a gift certificate from Cedar Creek Outdoor Center.

“People who are having fun on our waterways inevitably start caring about anything that endangers those waterways,” said Rena Peck, executive director of Georgia River Network. “By supporting river recreation with a fun contest like this, we are also nurturing the next generation of river advocates.”

Registration fees for the Paddle-A-Thon are $35, which includes a year’s membership in GRN, a Paddle-A-Thon bandana, and a $20 discount to participate in one of Georgia River Network’s river adventure trips or kayaking skills/water safety classes during 2023.

Organizations and businesses donating prizes for the Paddle-A-Thon include Blue Sky Outfitters, Cedar Creek Outdoor Center, Public Lands, Crescent Kayaks, Westbrook Supply Co., Nestle-Purina, Wildwater Rafting, Southeast Adventure Outfitters, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, Oconee Outfitters, The Hike Inn, Patagonia, Whitewater Express, The Canoe House, Stephens County Foundation and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Join the Paddle-A-Thon competition today and help protect Georgia’s rivers while enjoying a unique adventure on the water. Explore the state’s expanding water trail system and compete for exciting prizes, all while supporting a worthy cause.

Paddlers can learn more about Paddle-a-thon at this link and complete the first of the 2 step registration here:

The second step for the Paddle-a-thon registration is here:

And then the fun begins as you paddle your way across Georgia and log your adventures as you go!

Kayak with Your K9: A Beginner’s Guide to Dog-Friendly Paddling

April 12, 2023

by Andrea White, Georgia River Network Community Programs Coordinator

Kayaking with your furry best friend can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog. There’s nothing quite like the bond that forms when you have a four-legged adventure buddy! However, it’s important to take precautions to ensure the safety of both you and your pet while on the water. In this blog, we’ll go over some tips for safely and successfully kayaking with dogs plus some tips to help you face unexpected challenges with ease.

Tip #1: Life Jackets, not Leashes

First, let’s talk about leashes and collars. When you are on land, you use leashes and collars to maintain control of your dog in any situation, but when you are on the water, leashes and collars are entanglement hazards that could lead to your dog being trapped underwater or possibly getting injured yourself trying to help your dog. Instead of using a leash or collar, consider using a specially designed dog life vest with a handle on the back. This handle allows you to easily lift your dog back into the kayak if they do fall or jump in the water. 

Without a leash to depend on, obedience training becomes a very important factor before you go adventuring, as well. Make sure your dog is well-trained in basic commands like sit, stay, and come and perhaps a specific command for getting in the boat or getting out of the boat. This will help you keep your dog under control and prevent them from jumping out of the kayak, interfering with other boats or wildlife, or getting into trouble with other dogs or children in a crowd. 

Tip #2: Start Small & Build a Routine

When it comes to kayaking with your dog, it’s important to start small and work your way up. Practice getting in and out of the kayak with your dog on dry land, then start with short trips on flatwater. Help them slowly advance to longer trips, river conditions on moving water, and more crowded situations. Learn to recognize which factors are stressful for your dog and make judgment calls to ensure that these adventures continue to be a positive experience for both of you.

Andrea White with her four-legged first mate Rascal

Years ago, when I was training my dog Rascal to go paddling with me, he had little interest in getting in the boat or doing anything I said, at first. And he was dead set against wearing a life jacket. We settled on a routine that involved him getting to swim around independently first. Then I put the life jacket on him when he got tired, and he was much more amenable about getting in the boat to hang out with me after that. His special roasted garlic hotdog bites helped, too.

Special snacks can be a great way to motivate your dog and keep them happy during your kayaking adventure. Bring along some of your dog’s favorite treats to reward them for good behavior or to distract them if they become anxious or bored. 

Tip #3: Pack the Right Gear & Plan Ahead

You may also want to bring along a first aid kit specifically for your pet, which should include items like bandages designed for furry legs, antiseptic, and tweezers for removing ticks or other debris from your dog’s fur. A buff for your dog’s head can be a critical piece of gear if they get too cold and start shivering or become agitated. 

Additionally, it’s important to know how to respond in the event of an injury or other emergency. If your dog becomes injured while kayaking, it’s important to act quickly and calmly. Apply pressure to any bleeding wounds, elevate the injured limb if possible, and seek immediate veterinary care. Just like you need to have a plan for your own safety if something goes wrong halfway down the river, you are now responsible for planning a method to get you and your dog off the water if something goes awry. 

In Summary

Kayaking with your dog can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important to take precautions to ensure the safety of both you and your pet:

  • Avoid using leashes or collars while kayaking, and instead use a specially designed dog life vest with a handle on the back.
  • Bring along special snacks to keep your dog motivated and happy, and make sure your dog is well-trained in basic obedience commands before heading out onto the water.
  • Pay attention to the things that cause your dog to get stressed or agitated and make good choices for continued good experiences.

With these tips in mind, you and your furry best friend can enjoy many safe and fun kayaking adventures together.

Columbus to Host 2023 U.S.A. Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials

March 7, 2023

Guest Blog by Risa Shimoda, Chair, US Whitewater Freestyle Committee

On March 11th, the US Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials will determine the athletes who will represent the USA in the upcoming World Freestyle Championships October 9 -14. Both the Team Trials and 2023 Worlds will be hosted in Columbus, Georgia!

Both events will showcase whitewater freestyle, one of sixteen competitive American Canoe Association paddlesports disciplines enjoyed by paddlers across the nation. Team paddlers will be chosen in seven classes: Women’s and Men’s Kayak, Women’s and Men’s Canoe (decked), Junior Men’s Kayak, Junior Women’s Kayak, and Open Canoe. Teams for Squirt boating for Men and Women will be determined through video submissions.

Mason Hargrove at Good Wave

Watch for two locals and top contenders: the 2019 Junior Men’s World Champion, 19-year-old Mason Hargrove from Phenix City, Alabama will be competing in the Senior Division, and 15-year-old Makinley Kate Hargrove from Phenix City will compete in the Junior Women’s category. 

“We are thrilled to host the USA Team Trials and further solidify Columbus and Phenix City as a “must do” for whitewater activities and other outdoor recreation activities,” said Ed Wolverton, President of Uptown Columbus whose mission is to make Uptown an inviting, livable, and perpetually active space. “Our goal is to make these competitions the best in the history of the sport.” 

Risa Shimoda

Many Columbus locals dreamed big and invested over several decades because they believed their home river could become a paddling destination, but some might say that the economic development realized by this water trail and the role the Chattahoochee River is playing to fuel the growth in freestyle kayaking has surpassed even their vision of what might be possible.

Ed Kinner, a retired engineer who devoted nearly three decades to the Chattahoochee restoration, has authored The Chattahoochee River Ecosystem Restoration Project: A Historical Technical Narrative of Ecosystem Restoration and Whitewater Development.  Recalling discussions that led to the 1998 concept study he said, “When the Chattahoochee whitewater project was being designed and constructed, I had absolutely no idea that we would end up with the “Good Wave” where national and international freestyle kayaking competitions are held, and the “Wintering Grounds” where kayakers come from all over during the winter months to train and enjoy the Chattahoochee. That this is happening simply blows me away!”

USA Freestyle Kayaking promotes freestyle kayaking by maintaining the sport’s official rules and regulations, sanctioning National Championships, Team Trials, and other inclusive events, and participating in ICF governance.

To learn more about the freestyle athletes who train in Columbus all winter long, look for showings of the 2022 documentary, The Wintering Grounds, or follow them on Facebook at The Wintering Grounds.

Ed Kinner’s book, The Chattahoochee River Ecosystem Restoration Project: A Historical Technical Narrative of Ecosystem Restoration and Whitewater Development, is only available for purchase at Whitewater Express, 1000 Bay Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901 or by calling Dan Gilbert at 770-331-2486. 100% of the proceeds from book sales go to Friends of the River.

About Risa Shimoda:
Risa Shimoda is a kayaker who gave racing K1, C1 and C2 slalom the good ol’ college try (C2 with partner Chuck Harris) in the mid-80s. Turning to freestyle, she organized whitewater events  beginning in 1987, including the 40-event National Organization of Whitewater Rodeos in the 1990s and the 2nd World Freestyle Championship in 1993 on the Ocoee River. She was responsible for the design, marketing and sale of  kayaks and gear at Perception Kayaks during that period, as well.  Risa has led the US Whitewater Freestyle Committee since it became an ICF discipline in 2005 and chairs the World River Centre and International Whitewater Hall of Fame.  Risa served as an officer of the Atlanta Whitewater Club when she lived next to Candler Park.

She has competed as a member of seven US Freestyle Teams. She co-founded the Outdoor Alliance and has provided leadership for the boards of American Whitewater, North American Paddlesports Association, Conservation Alliance, World River Centre, American Canoe Association, Stanford Alumni Association and Stanford Associates. She’s served as the Executive Director of American Whitewater (twice) and produced conferences promoting whitewater courses and parks. 

Kayak Angling Community is Leveling Up in Georgia

January 18, 2023

By GRN Guest Blogger: Tony Narcisse, Kayak Angler and Co-founder, Paddle4Tomorrow

Westbrook Supply Co in Atlanta recently hosted an excellent seminar on river kayak fishing. Speakers included Jeff Little from the Mid-Atlantic region; Dr. Steve Sammons, biologist from Auburn University (widely considered the preeminent expert on Shoal Bass); and, of course, Georgia native Drew Gregory, the poster person for river fishing from a kayak.

If you love rivers and fishing from a kayak, it was an impressive event. But, for the more observant, you witnessed something truly special – indications of where the sport of kayak fishing is heading. The event hosted some of the most recognized names in kayak fishing including legends like Chad Hoover, Gene Jensen, Westbrook Supply Co’s own Mike Manivanh, Craig Dye, Reese Melven, and Crescent Kayak leader Scott Beutjer. They assembled, not in competition as you might ordinarily find such a group, but in fellowship. They came together as ambassadors for the sport of kayak fishing. 

This hardy band of anglers spent time discussing river etiquette, river conservation, and kayaking river safety. Along the way, many got acquainted with the efforts of Georgia River Network’s Andrea White, an ACA certified kayak instructor and the driving force behind improving kayaking skills and increased safety training for paddlers on Georgia rivers.

The event simultaneously marked the culmination of a vision from some of Georgia’s preeminent kayak anglers while also signaling the beginning of a more widespread movement among kayak anglers in Georgia. We are broadening our understanding of kayak fishing in rivers, but we’re also moving toward a better understanding of our role as ambassadors for the respectful use of our rivers. This is the emerging ethos of kayak anglers overall. 

I’ve never been prouder to be among them.

Author Tony Narcisse, is a co-founder and current board member of Paddle4Tomorrow and a co-founder and past board member of Georgia Kayak Fishing.

2 Fox Theatre Tickets for Sale to Benefit Georgia River Network!

February 19, 2018

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

You pay $110.00 actual value is $220!  GREAT DEAL!!!

(Must redeem by Feb 21st!!! Performance is March 15)

Certificate for 2 ‘Preferred Seating’ tickets to “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” on Thursday March 15 @ 7:30 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta – Preferred Seating; Certificate must be redeemed 3 weeks before the performance (Feb 21) and may not be exchanged.

Buy Tix Here:

Getting away with murder can be so much fun… and there’s no better proof than the knock-‘em-dead hit show that’s earned unanimous raves and won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical—A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder!

Coming direct from New York, where a most gentlemanly NPR critic said he’d “never laughed so hard at a Broadway musical,” Gentleman’s Guide tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance… and be done in time for tea.

The Hollywood Reporter raves, “Gentleman’s Guide restores our faith in musical comedy” and The New York Times cheers, “it will lift the hearts of all those who’ve been pining for what seems like a lost art form.” Kindly get your tickets now for the new musical that will have you dying with laughter!Fox Theatre Tix

Georgia Water Coalition’s Inaugural “Clean 13” Celebration

September 19, 2017

Georgia River Network is a member of the Georgia Water Coalition Leadership Team. Help us celebrate the Coalition’s “Clean 13” on March 8, 2018. Save the date!
Check out the Georgia Water Coalition’s Clean 13 Celebration details!Square_Social_Media


August 30, 2017

It’s WATER TRAIL WEDNESDAY! Time for GRN’s Water Trail Tidbit of the Week ~In the state of Georgia, we have 70,150 miles of rivers and streams that wind their way across the state. How many miles have you covered? See a list of the rivers here:



August 29, 2017

It’s TIP TOP TUESDAY! Time for GRN’s Tip of the Week ~Are you a beginner kayaker? Check out this link for tips on what to know before you go!


Six Word Story Time!

August 25, 2017

Six Word Story Time! Playing with the popular six word novel idea, we are collecting six word stories about rivers. Post your 6 word story in the comment section on Georgia River Network’s Facebook page: This Week’s Six Word Story Stream Theme: “Sunrise ”



August 23, 2017

It’s WATER TRAIL WEDNESDAY! Time for GRN’s Water Trail Tidbit of the Week ~Did you know the Broad River Water Trail is ultimatelty 70 miles long? Check out this access points here!