Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 34

Around GEORGIA

By H.M. Cauley

Nurturing nature
Georgia Conservancy creates advocates through outdoor
adventures statewide

WILLIAM BRAWLEY

J

Participants take a break during a day hike at Sweetwater Creek State Park
in Lithia Springs.

Building advocates
The concept of a grassroots organization to promote
conservation, sustainable planning and the outdoors grew from
a gathering of Georgians 53 years ago at Sweetwater Creek in
Lithia Springs.
"It was on a hike there-before it was protected as Sweetwater Creek State Park-that a number of concerned citizens
began talking about where Georgia was going with its environmental policies," says Brian Foster, the organization's communications director. "The idea behind the trips component of the
organization was that, if you haven't explored a place firsthand,
you might not be as vocal about fighting for those places if they
come under threat."
The organization has several programs aimed at advocacy,
land conservation, coastal conservation and sustainable growth.
About 10 years ago, it expanded its monthly nature outings
to include more weekend trips and greater stewardship
opportunities.
"We as the staff saw a lot of places that weren't being

34

Georgia Magazine

34-36_Around_GA_0320.indd 34

highlighted as outdoor recreation destinations," Foster says. "So
we grew our trips into a new program dedicated to taking folks
outside, maybe for a weekend in the Okefenokee Swamp or hiking
part of the Appalachian Trail."
Since then, the list of offered excursions has grown to two
dozen or more per year and covers ground in a variety of ways,
including hiking, biking, paddling, snorkeling and fishing. Locations have included Cloudland Canyon State Park in the northwest, Cumberland Island National Seashore off of the coast and
Seminole State Park in the southwest.
"We do a lot of flatwater paddling trips; we've become known
for that," Foster says. "It's an easy way to introduce people to
paddling. We try not to have many barriers because of skill levels,
so while we have a couple of trips that might require a little bit of
experience, we also have a number of paddling trips where you
can learn along the way."
Participants don't need their own outdoor gear to sign up for
a trip, says Clark Harrison, director of the Georgia Conservancy's

March 2020

2/12/20 3:54 PM

WILLIAM BRAWLEY

ohn Williams had a tough time finding kindred spirits who shared his passion for the
outdoors among the 700 or so other Plains
residents. This search for canoeing, kayaking and
camping partners led him to the Georgia Conservancy. The nonprofit organization hosts regular
outdoor excursions designed to showcase the state's
natural bounty as part of its overall mission of promoting the conservation of natural resources.
"I found them online about six years ago, and
they had so many members who looked like a nice
group of people," Williams says. "As I went on more
trips to the barrier islands, different rivers and
caves, I met people from all over Georgia."
Williams also supports and promotes the message of the Georgia Conservancy-sponsored trips.
"The conservancy's job is to preserve and
protect the natural resources we have," he says.
"And if more people get out and see them, more will
want to protect them. It's an essential program to let
people know what Georgia has."



Georgia Magazine - March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - March 2020

Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 4
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 5
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 6
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 7
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 8
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Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover4
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