Savannah Riverkeeper voyage concludes with lock passage and homecoming celebration

15-day Savannah-Augusta river voyage complete

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.

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Watch more video diaries from the Savannah Riverkeeper’s trip at www.youtube.com/user/SavannahRiverkeeper.

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