Tuesday, the Georgia Wildlife Federation held a dedication of the Alcovy River at East End to recognize our partners in the 5-Star Wetlands Restoration Project and open the East End property to the public. This was the culmination of two years of building partnerships, empowering communities and restoring our natural resources through work in the 5-Star program. An informative kiosk was unveiled at the 16-acre property of shaded hardwood swamp and wetland with half a mile of frontage on the Alcovy River. Previously the site was a favored dumping ground of construction debris. After hundreds of hours of work by the 12 dedicated partners in the 5-Star program, the property now features more than a mile of maintained trails, a public canoe launch and an outdoor classroom.
The restoration of the East End property is a look at what is possible through the partnership and dedicated efforts of many. The relatively small property is an ecologically significant and useful site, adding an access point to the Alcovy River and educational facilities with a minimal impact on the natural habitat. This increases the community’s recreational opportunities to enjoy the natrual world while adding to the awareness of the need to protect much more than the 16 acres of East End.
All 12 of the programs partners were on hand to be recognized for their part in restoring this important river habitat. Members were also presented with a copy of Ulcofauhatchee: A guide to life along the Alcovy River. The magazine is published by the GWF and is a guide to both the ecological and historical significance of the Alcovy River in Newton County.
East End is now a vital link the Alcovy Greenway, a protective corridor surrounding the river, which provides the vast majority of the drinking water in Newton County. In Ulcofauhatchee, the history of the river and its connection and importance to the community of Newton County is discussed. Rivers are surrounded by life and community because they are essential to life. We must have them to survive. And they must be healthy. The difference between the past and the present is that they knew this intuitively because their relationship to the river was physical and literal. Certainly environmental mistakes were made and consequences under-estimated but their actions were kept in check becuase they had to interact with the water in order to live. It was a first-hand knowledge and responsibility.
East End is bringing to life another opportunity in Newton County for people to interact with this essential part of their life. The Alcovy River is protected by the greenway and an impressive 150-foot buffer ordinance in Newton County, but that also keeps it out of sight. It’s importnat to be aware that when you are protecting rivers like the Alcovy, you’re protecting the water you cook your food in, the water your children drink. The Alcovy River, like many others around the state, is still the life-blood of the community, whether you know it or not.
Five Star Restoration Program Partners are:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
National Association of Counties
Wildlife Habitat Council
Environmental Protection Agency
Alcovy River at East End Wetlands Restoration Partners are: Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Conservation Fund, Newton County, Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division, GA DNR Environmental Protection Division, Oxford College of Emory University, Georgia FFA-FCCLA, Georgia Exotic Pest Plants Council, Georgia River Fishing, Newton County Master Gardeners, Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc., Boy Scout Troop 222.