"We're trying to raise money," said Joe Cook, executive director and riverkeeper for CRBI. "One of the projects that CRBI has been working on really for the past four, five years is trying to improve public access to the Etowah. Right now you've got a 160-mile-long river and you only have four public access points on the entire length of the river.
"It's some of the best family paddling in north Georgia and also some of the most significant historic resources along the river corridor that we have in the state. It can be an incredible amenity for the communities that it flows through but it can also bring in visitors from outside the area to come into Bartow County and Floyd County and all the other communities along the river, where they'll spend money and bring money into the county. And we see getting people out on the river as a way to engage people in protecting the river."
On Oct. 16, Paddling Through History will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a tour of the 1840s plantation home, Valley View, which was occupied by Union soldiers during the Civil War.
According to a news release from the CRBI, "After the tour, patrons will stroll to the river for a six-mile paddle trip from [Valley View] to Euharlee. Along the way, they'll paddle over 1,000-year-old rock dams built by the area's original inhabitants. Native Americans used these rock weirs to capture fish, and dozens of them cross the Etowah between Cartersville and Rome.
"A catered dinner in the courtyard of the historic Valley View home will follow the paddle. The after-dinner program will include a kayak raffle courtesy of Cedar Creek Park, an auction featuring a Cohutta Fishing Co. fishing trip and a talk with local historian David Archer covering unique events that tell the story of the Etowah River Valley."
To participate in Paddling Through History, individuals need to RSVP by Monday. Tickets -- suggested donations are $75 per person or $130 per couple -- can be purchased online at www.coosa.org. Only a total of 75 tickets are available.
"Our hope is that they will gain an appreciation for the river itself and our really rich cultural roots that are very much tied to the river," Cook said. "We hope they'll gain an understanding of how we continue to depend on the river just as the Native Americans did and just as the ancestors of the Nortons, who now own Valley View. They were dependent on the river back then. We're still dependent on it and we still need to take care of it."
Cook said he is encouraged by recent developments to provide public access along the Etowah River, including a boat launch in Euharlee that is near completion.
"CRBI in the past five years has secured $55,000 to develop public access points along the river and we're seeing that pay off with the development of new boat launches," he said. "We hope to break ground within the next six months on a boat launch at the U.S. 411 bridge over the Etowah near Kingston. A lot of the money that we have raised will be going toward the development of that public access area -- a parking area, a boat ramp. So we're excited about that. And upstream, we've also been working with the city of Canton. We were able to secure through a legal settlement ... $25,000 for the city of Canton to build a boat launch on some of their property in Canton.
"So ultimately, we'll have a trail that extends all the way from Dawsonville to Rome. So it's very exciting. And we're seeing these water trails being developed all over the state. So it's very exciting to see what's happening all over the state where local governments and local organizations like ours are trying to work together to establish these water trails. Ultimately, it will be a great amenity for the people that live near the rivers and it will be a great tourism development tool to bring people into communities and really enjoy the great resources that we have here in the state."
For more information about Paddling Through History and the CRBI, visit its website, www.coosa.org, or call Cook at 706-232-2724.