PRESS RELEASE: ORK announces the winners of the annual photography contest

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST
Professional photographer Parker Stewart helped choose winners

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has chosen the best photographs from across the 5,500 square mile watershed submitted for the annual photography contest. Judges sorted through images that highlighted what makes the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, and the surrounding areas, ecologically and aesthetically remarkable. This year, guest judge and photographer Parker Stewart led the selection process.

Stewart is based in Savannah, Georgia, and is currently focusing his time photographing the coast of Georgia and the river basins that flow in the region. “I was so excited to be asked to judge the Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s annual photography contest,” Stewart said. “The Ogeechee is such a beautiful and diverse expanse. There’s nothing better than exploring and photographing the winding black water rivers which flow out towards the most pristine barrier islands on the east coast.”

The 2021 winners are: 

Black and White –  Winner: Scarboro Landing, Janet Strozzo Anderson; Runner-up: River Rain, William Harrell
Funny Wildlife – Winner: Tree Climber, Wesley Hendley; Runner-up: Cormorant, Janet Strozzo Anderson
Landscape – Winner: Kings Ferry Landing, Ted Grey;  Runner-up: White Chimney Creek, Claude Howard
Plant life – Winner: Tree, Near Morgans Bridge, James Maddox; Runner-up: Stump, Kathleen Kuehn
Portrait – Winner: New Friends, Montana Tohm
Wildlife – Winner: Barred Owl, William Harrell; Runner-up: Pileated Woodpecker, Wesley Hendley
Honorable Mentions – Heart Tree, Tamara Shurling (Plant Life); Kayak Trail, Brett Tatom (Landscape); Free, Gretchen McLeod (Landscape); Big Daddy, Merritt Garrett (Funny Wildlife)

Winners receive a one year ORK household membership and official ORK swag. All winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions can be viewed here or via the viewer below.

2021 Annual Photography Contest


About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

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PRESS RELEASE: Hancock County adopts ordinances to protect Ogeechee River, residents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11/22/21
Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

Southern Environmental Law Center
Contact: Emily Driscoll, 404-521-9900
Director of Program Communications
edriscoll@selcga.org

HANCOCK COUNTY ADOPTS ORDINANCES TO PROTECT OGEECHEE RIVER, RESIDENTS
Update petitioned by Ogeechee Riverkeeper and drafted by Southern Environmental Law Center

Last week, the Hancock County Board of Commissioners amended its zoning ordinance to require some special use permit applicants to explain in detail how their proposal would impact the surrounding community and environment.

In March 2021 Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) helped organize a group of concerned citizens to prevent the development of a quarry in Hancock County. The site was along the banks of the Ogeechee River and immediately adjacent to a residential neighborhood. County commissioners ultimately denied the special use permit to the developers, but the process revealed just how vulnerable the county’s rural areas are to other damaging developments. 

ORK and Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) worked with local citizens and municipal officials to draft the amendments for Hancock County. The updates require the permit applicant to provide a community impact assessment that analyzes environmental conditions, water and air pollution, and truck traffic. Importantly, it also requires information on vulnerable populations, socioeconomic standards, public health data and protection, and other demographic data. The developer must now submit all of this information with their application. 

“These changes bring added transparency for the public and for county officials when considering a permit application,” says Damon Mullis, riverkeeper and executive director of ORK. “Both county residents and leaders need to know the true effects these proposals will have on their quality of life.” 

ORK opposed the quarry development due to its proximity to the Ogeechee River, and possible adverse effects on water quality, potential damage to the aquifer that locals use for drinking water, and likelihood of it becoming a pollution source.  While residents’ reasons varied, concerns included complications from silica dust, negative health effects to livestock, infrastructure damage, social and housing inequities, disturbance to local businesses and tourism industry, historic property damage, and more. 

Mullis added: “We appreciate the Hancock County commissioners for recognizing the need to make these improvements. We are confident that they will protect the community and our environment.”

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

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ORK’s statement regarding the quarry defeat (March 2021)

Catfish and the Quarry – The Bitter Southerner (October 2021)

 

PRESS RELEASE: ORK to hold panel discussion on plastic pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10/18/21
Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) will hold its annual meeting on Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 6 p.m. It will be held virtually and is open to all. Registration is required. The meeting will begin with organization updates before launching into a panel discussion on plastic use and pollution. The panelists are:

  • Hermina Glass-Hill — Field Representative, Oceana (Georgia)
  • Jennette Gayer — State Director, Environment Georgia
  • Don Bates — Founder, Osprey Initiative

The discussion will be led by ORK staff.

When attendees register, they will receive a link to stream the documentary film The Story of Plastic. Attendees will watch the film before the panel discussion and will be able to ask questions of the panel. The Story of Plastic takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic pollution and the worldwide effect it has on the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it. The panel discussion will also offer specific ideas and actions that can help combat plastic pollution in our watershed.

For registration links and more details, visit https://www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/events/meeting-plastic/


About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

RELEASE: OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10/15/21
Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST
Multiple categories will put on a spotlight the beauty of the area

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) is soliciting the best photographs of the year 2021 from across the 5,500 square mile watershed. Judges will be looking for images that highlight what makes the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, and the surrounding areas, remarkable.

“From the Ogeechee Shoals to the wide estuaries, pine forests to coastal marshes, our watershed is home to an incredible variety of ecological features,” said Meaghan Walsh Gerard, communications director for ORK. “We are also a habitat for more than 160 rare species of plants and animals. By displaying the amazing ecological wealth we have, we hope to inspire more people to protect it.” 

Photographers can enter in multiple categories: Landscape, portrait, wildlife, plant life, underwater, aerial, black and white, and funny wildlife. Since this will be an annual event each December, ORK requests that any images submitted be taken within the same calendar year. ORK hopes to see entries from across the 22 counties encompassing the watershed. 

Submissions are due by November 5, 2021. Winners will be announced early December 2021. Complete rules and submission guidelines are available at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/annual-photography-contest.

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

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RELEASE: Ogeechee Riverkeeper, City of Savannah Vernon River Restoration Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
05/03/21
Contact: Meaghan Walsh Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER, CITY OF SAVANNAH LEAD VERNON RIVER RESTORATION PROJECT

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) and the City of Savannah are partnering to lead a long term project to protect the water quality and ecology of the Vernon River. The Vernon River receives a significant amount of the stormwater leaving the City of Savannah, via Wilshire Canal, Harmon Canal, Casey Canal, and Hayners Creek, all part of the Ogeechee River watershed. The goal is to improve water quality, restore ecological habitat, and “Protect The Vernon River” from current and future threats.

The canals and tributaries that feed the Vernon River are highly impacted by urban development. When stormwater runs across parking lots, through streets, and off of other impervious surfaces it doesn’t have a chance to be filtered through soils before reaching the marsh. This, along with aging sewage infrastructure, failing septic systems, and disconnected riparian habitats, has negatively impacted the canals and creeks of the Vernon watershed.

In 2001 a group of citizens came together to focus on protecting the Vernon River from urban pollution when it was listed as ‘impaired’ by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD). This allowed ORK and the City of Savannah to apply for grant funding and conduct further testing to trace causes and share the results. In 2012 the committee expanded to a group of stakeholders to create a Watershed Management Plan (WSMP). The plan was released in 2013 and a number of recommendations have been enacted. 

This year, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, the City of Savannah, and other stakeholders are updating the WSMP with new data and recommendations with the goals to: restore the waterways in the Vernon River basin to the point that it can be delisted as an impaired waterbody by GA EPD; and to reduce the amount of litter and plastic pollution entering the waterways.

“All of Savannah’s stormwater infrastructure flows into a public waterway,” says Laura Walker, Water Resources Environmental Manager for the City of Savannah. “These waterways are lifelines to Savannah’s environmental and economic health. We work hard every day to try and keep them fishable and swimmable. But we need everyone to treat the storm system with care. We need everyone to protect the storm drains, ditches, and creeks and keep them clean.” 

The steering committee includes representatives from:

  • The City of Savannah
  • Cuddybum Hydrology
  • Ogeechee Riverkeeper
  • Savannah State University
  • Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (UGA)
  • Town of Vernonburg
  • Concerned residents from neighborhoods throughout the watershed

“With its gorgeous views and vibrant wildlife, the Vernon River exemplifies why our coastal rivers are such jewels and worthy of our protection,” says Damon Mullis, Ogeechee Riverkeeper and Executive Director. “We are so grateful for the broad group of stakeholders working with us to minimize the threats that urban runoff, and litter and plastic pollution pose to this special waterbody. Local residents are encouraged to volunteer for litter cleanups, citizen science programs, educational events, and more in the coming months.”

Sign up to volunteer, view data, and read the 2013 WSMP at: https://www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/vernon

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 402 miles long, the Ogeechee-Canoochee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles of land across 22 Georgia counties. ogeecheeriverkeeper.org