River lover celebrates 60th birthday paddling Apalachicola solo

The Apalachicola Riverkeeper invites you to recruit family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor RiverTrek paddling miles and, in turn, help raise resources and awareness for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s initiatives to protect a great American treasure—the Apalachicola River and Bay.

About the Journey: October 8-12, 2009
Apalachicola River Map On the morning of October 8, 2009, a solitary paddler will launch his kayak at the northern end of the Apalachicola River just below the Jim Woodruff Dam in Chattahoochee, Florida. Five days and 107 miles later, he will reach his destination of Apalachicola Bay and the city of Apalachicola, Florida.

The first leg of the trek, Chattahoochee to Alum Bluff, is 22 miles long. The second leg, from Alum Bluff to Estiffanugla Landing is just over 20 miles. The third, fourth, and fifth legs average 21 miles each. The five to seven hours of paddling per day required to travel the river in five days can be strenuous under ideal circumstances. Extreme weather conditions can quickly and significantly degrade paddling conditions on the river, adding to the difficulty of staying on pace.

The northern reaches of this journey include a dramatic landscape of steep bluffs and deep ravines that are often characterized as some of the most significant natural features of the southeastern Coastal Plain. The river and its surrounding forests, prairies, and coastal habitats have been recognized as one of six biodiversity hotspots in the United States. This complex river ecosystem supports more than 1,500 species of native plants and animals as well as numerous species that exist only in this region. The river basin has the highest species diversity of reptiles and amphibians in the U.S. and Canada, with more than 40 species of amphibians and 80 species of reptiles. The Apalachicola National Forest, which borders the river, is one of the largest contiguous blocks of public lands east of the Mississippi River.

About the Cause
Converting land from natural communities to agricultural, industrial, and residential uses is negatively impacting the habitats of numerous plants and animals. Changes in the patterns and volume of river flow and in water quality, is affecting species that live on land as well as those that live in the water. These changes are stressing the Apalachicola River Basin ecosystem and are not going to diminish. To maintain a good habitat, some lands need natural processes of renewal such as seasonal flooding or semiannual burning.

The River needs an advocate to monitor these changes and to help organize concerned citizens who want to protect the Apalachicola River Basin. The Apalachicola Riverkeeper is such an advocate. Its leaders and members are dedicated to providing stewardship and advocacy for the protection of the Apalachicola River and Bay, its tributaries, and watersheds; to improving and maintaining its environmental integrity; and to preserving the natural scenic, recreational and commercial fishing character of these waterways. Click here to learn more about the mission and specific goals of the Riverkeeper.

About the Paddler
The paddler, Earl Morrogh, has paddled the length of the Apalachicola twice (on Apalachicola Riverkeeper-sponsored, 7-day group trips) for the experience, the challenge, and to learn more about the River. This time he is paddling it alone and for a different purpose: to raise funds to support the Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s intiatives to protect the Apalachicola River and Bay and to raise awareness about how precious and unique the Apalachicola River and Bay are. In conjunction with this effort, Earl is gifting to the Apalachicola Riverkeeper an online educational resource, Riverwise, to support the Riverkeeper’s educational outreach efforts. The primary goal of Riverwise is to develop an environmentally literate citizenry.

Earl is a board member of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. He retired from Florida State University in 2006 where he worked as an information design professional and visiting instructor in the College of Information. In 2007 and 2008 he celebrated his birthday while participating in Apalachicola Riverkeeper-sponsored paddling trips down the full length of the Apalachicola River. This year he will complete a solo paddle of the river during the week of his 60th birthday.

Learn more about Rivertrek and the Apalachicola Riverkeeper: http://rivertrek-2009.org/index.html

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