Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 32

THE VIEW / Photography by David Hanson

THE FIRST TIME I PADDLED THE LENGTH OF
the Chattahoochee River from north Georgia
to the Gulf of Mexico was in the fall of 2009
on the coattails of a 100-year flood. Despite
the high-water sendoff, by the time I reached
Apalachicola Bay two months later, the effects
of frequent, prolonged droughts on the ecosystem were evident. The highly engineered watershed that supplies water to three states was being maxed out. Even in the semitropical Deep
South, fresh water is not a given, especially the
farther downstream you go.
I returned to the Apalachicola-ChattahoocheeFlint (ACF) river basin in 2013 with my brother, Michael Hanson, this time with a mission to
make a documentary film about the tri-state water wars. For Who Owns Water, we spoke with
some of the colorful characters I'd met on my
earlier trip and some new ones, including a canoe
outfit owner on the Flint River whose business

32 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ April 2021

was threatened by low flows as upstream users
around Atlanta withdrew increasing amounts
of water.
Elevation equals power in a water war, and
Apalachicola Bay is at zero feet elevation. So
the war became more apparent and desperate farther downstream. The ACF river system yields its freshwater and nutrients to the
brackish seawater in Apalachicola, one of the
most productive marine fisheries in the country. Apalachicola oysters are served raw on saltines and white tablecloths from Tallahassee
to New York, and, for decades, the demand
has supported a small cottage industry along
Apalachicola Bay. These wild oyster beds are
leased to families and individuals who cultivate them in a regenerative manner and harvest the yield with handmade oyster tongs
(rakes) from crusty wooden boats. It was
small-batch-craft-sea-to-plate before those

were marketing terms.
But that's over now. In 2020, Florida officials closed the Bay to fishing until 2025.
Overuse of ACF water, prolonged droughts,
the toxic drip-drip of Deepwater Horizon,
Hurricane Michael, and overfishing and illegal harvesting all contributed. Scientific
recommendations, developed through an
exhaustive multistakeholder effort, went
largely ignored. The ecologic failure of
Apalachicola Bay has been a perfect storm of
legal and political stalemates, natural disaster, man-made contamination, a lack of oversight, and greed.
Michael and I intend to return to Apalachicola
this spring to tell the story of an oysterman who's
fighting to restore his oyster lease and continue
the way of life his family pursued for three generations. He has hope, but nothing is certain in
Apalachicola right now. -David Hanson


https://www.michaelhansonphotography.com/ https://vimeo.com/ondemand/whoownswater https://www.davidhanson3.com/

Outdoor Retailer - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - April 2021

Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover1
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 4
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 6
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Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 36
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailySM2022_Day3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/outdoor-retailer-august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/outdoor-retailer-july-2021
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/april_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/march_2021
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow2020
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2019winter
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