RELEASE: ORK announces winners of annual photo contest

12/5/2022 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST

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.

The 2022 winners are: 

Black and White: Big Splash, Don Howe
Funny Wildlife: Great Blue Heron Waving, Janet Strozzo Anderson
Landscape: Fall in the Coniferous Swamp, Vivian Lynch
Plant life: Pink Muhly Grass, Charlotte Landon
Wildlife: Great Blue Heron, Christian Scott
Honorable Mentions:
Autumn Cypress Pond, Wesley Hendley
Ogeechee Palette, Gretchen McLeod
Sunrise, Len Kramer

All winners and honorable mentions are available to view at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or via the Flickr album. ORK has permission from the photographers to share their work. Contact ORK for files to reprint or share in publications.

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 21 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

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2022 Annual Photography Contest

RELEASE: New research fellow at ORK plans year-long monitoring project

11/15/2022
Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

NEW RESEARCH FELLOW AT OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER PLANS YEAR-LONG MONITORING PROJECT
The annual ORK fellowship provides research opportunities in the watershed

The 2023 ORK Research Fellow is Molly McKean, a graduate student at Georgia Southern University (Statesboro campus), pursuing a master’s degree in biology. She works in the lab of Dr. Checo Colón-Gaud. She worked as a research assistant under a National Science Foundation Research Experience for post-baccalaureate grant for a year prior to joining the master’s program in August 2022.

McKeon will conduct a year-long monitoring project focused on an upstream site at Rocky Ford, a site at the soon-to-be closed textile plant, and a site where Black Creek meets the Ogeechee River downstream of the new EV plant development. “Monitoring these sites particularly will help contrast and compare how the upstream site will compare with these two downstream sites and the health of the river,” McKeon says.

McKeon is a first-generation college student from the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. She started out her higher education journey slightly later in life. She first started attending community college courses, as well as working full time, in 2017. Her bachelor of science degree in biological science, with a minor in environmental science, was earned in August of 2021 from Wayne State University. While there, she worked with Dr. Donna Kashian in her aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology lab.

McKeon has participated in the National Science Foundation’s Instars and Emerge programs for underrepresented students and early career fellows in STEM fields. She has a passion for urban community aquatic ecology and taxonomy work.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) created a year-long research fellowship in 2022. The fellowship is underwritten by investments secured from the 2011 fish kill settlement.

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 21 counties in Georgia. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Ogeechee Riverkeeper Releases Comprehensive Tool Kit For Citizen Advocacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

09/07/2022
Contact: Meaghan Walsh Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE TOOL KIT FOR CITIZEN ADVOCACY
The kit includes contacts, ordinances, and other tips for protecting water quality
 
Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) launched a county-by-county campaign to update planning and zoning ordinances in 2020. While these efforts are ongoing, ORK is adding resources for citizens to organize and conduct advocacy on their own.

“With 5,500 square miles to cover, ORK relies on the assistance of residents across the watershed,” says Damon Mullis, executive director and riverkeeper. “Reporting pollution issues to attending local municipal meetings to sending photos from a day on the river – all of this helps us keep our waterways safe.”

This tool kit compiles county contacts and ordinances but it also provides lists and ideas for checking the compliance of the proposed project.

“ORK will continue to work with local governments and citizens to pass updated ordinances, but this will give citizens a blueprint for expressing their concerns today,” says Meaghan Walsh Gerard, communications and administrative director. “It’s key that residents know they do not have to simply accept destructive development practices.”

The tool kit is available for download at: https://www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/tool-kit-for-citizens/

The contacts and links will be updated on a regular basis, as needed.

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. 

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ORK received $10,000 Bass Pro Shops Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
08/02/2022
Contact: Meaghan Walsh Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER RECEIVES $10,000 BASS PRO SHOPS GRANT
Funding will be dedicated to Protect the Vernon project

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. The grant will fund ORK’s on-going Protect the Vernon project that has connected numerous community stakeholders with The ultimate goal to reduce pollution to the point that it will be delisted by the Georgia EPD as ‘impaired.’ 

So far, a total of 1293.18 lbs of trash has been collected from the creeks and canals leading to the Vernon. Styrofoam is the most common litter collected in litter booms, with an average of 292 pieces per clean up. There are a total of 61 unique bacterial sampling sites within the Vernon River watershed that ORK and Adopt-A-Stream volunteers are monitoring. Additionally, ORK has engaged 420 students at 2 different schools in 5th and 9-11th grades with onsite water quality education programming. The grant from the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Fund will help ORK continue and expand these efforts.

“We’re pleased to partner with Bass Pro Shops on this project,” said Meaghan Walsh Gerard, communications and administrative director for ORK. “You can see the waterways we are restoring from the front doors of the store – it doesn’t get any more local. We know Bass Pro Shops is dedicated to conservation efforts and their customers are equally enthusiastic about protecting the environment we all enjoy.”

Details about the Protect the Vernon project can be found at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/vernon.

About Bass Pro Fund: Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity. When customers round up loose change at the register, we’re uniting more than 200 million customers in supporting key conservation programs across North America.

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.

PRESS RELEASE: ORK, City of Savannah install litter traps to Protect the Vernon

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER, CITY OF SAVANNAH INSTALL LITTER TRAPS TO PROTECT THE VERNON
Effort is part of a long-term project to improve the health of the Vernon watershed 

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. Two litter booms were recently deployed in an effort to catch litter before it reaches the river or the ocean. The booms were installed in the Chippewa and Harmon Canals. These traps will be cleaned out regularly and the litter will be sorted, analyzed, cataloged and then recycled or disposed of responsibly. 

The booms were designed and installed by Osprey Initiative, and were paid for by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). ORK received the 5 Star grant from NFWF for its comprehensive plan involving multiple stakeholders in the area. 

In 2021, ORK the City of Savannah, and other stakeholders set out 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. The canals and tributaries that feed the Vernon River are highly impacted by urban development.

“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 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” from current and future threats. 

“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,” says Damon Mullis, riverkeeper and executive director. “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, watch an installation video, and view the successes to date: 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. 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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