An upstream passage through New Savannah Bluff’s wood-gated locks was the final hurdle for Savannah Riverkeeper’s 15-day fundraising adventure that ended Thursday.
“We’re finally back into Lake Augusta,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, the group’s director, who left Tybee Island on March 2 and traveled 200 river miles while conducting interviews and making a series of documentary video clips about the river and its many features.
The lock, built in 1937 to boost a lagging commercial shipping industry, serves as an elevator of sorts that allows boats to move back and forth from the lower river to the Augusta pool, which is held at a higher elevation by the New Savannah Bluff Dam.
The trip’s memorable final day began farther downstream with a fog-shrouded sunrise and a biscuit breakfast around a campfire.
By late afternoon, a final stop was made along a sandbar strewn with gravel and prehistoric shards of Indian pottery.
“We did one last interview there,” Bonitatibus said.
The subject – Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy research biologist Jason Moak – talked about fish migration, the plight of the endangered sturgeon and other river issues.
Back at the Savannah Riverkeeper office building at the city marina, it was time for Gatorade and a homecoming party with food provided by downtown restaurants.
The trip, dubbed Savannah River Challenge 2012, was created as a way to draw attention to the river. It was also a fundraiser and membership drive, netting about $26,000 for the nonprofit organization.