Savannah Riverkeeper awareness voyage up the Savannah began Thursday

Jackie Ricciardi/staff Savannah Riverkeeper, Tonya Bonitatibus heads out to the 20x20 raft that she is living on on Monday, March 7, 2011 in Augusta, Ga. She has been living on the Savannah River for 6 days in order to garner more attention to the River and get 500 people to become a member of Savannah Riverkeeper.

Tonya Bonitatibus launched a 200-mile upstream voyage Thursday in hopes of bringing new attention to one of Georgia’s most famous waterways.

 

“We’ll be interviewing lots of interesting people and showing everyone the different users of the river,” said the Savannah riverkeeper, whose adventure – which could last 15 days or more – began Thursday night at Tybee Island.

Piloting a 20-foot skiff, and accompanied by crewmembers and a catahoula dog named Beaudreau, she plans to travel through coastal estuaries, Savannah Harbor and Coastal Plain swamps all the way back to Augusta, with passage through New Savannah Bluff Lock being one of the last milestones.

The trip, dubbed Savannah River Challenge 2012, is also a fundraiser, she said, with a plan to move just one mile upstream for each $200 raised for the organization – a goal of $40,000.

During 13 stops, there will be cookouts, interviews and other events, many of which will be documented in short videos to be posted each day on YouTube, she said.

“We’ll be shooting a lot of footage, maybe enough to do a short documentary later,” she said. The clips will feature the events of the day and the people she interviews.

“We’ll be talking to about 35 different people,” she said.

Their stories will help others learn about the river.

“There are too many people who don’t understand all the different components that are a part of the river,” she said. “You have lakes, cities, industries – and even the harbor – and they are all connected and they all affect each other.”

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