The Augusta Canal’s newest amenity makes its debut this week, offering visitors a chance to enjoy the sweet smell of solar-powered pottys.
Two new restroom buildings, designed for the area’s runners, cyclists and trail users, have been completed at the grassy meadow downstream from the Interstate 20 bridge; and near the Sibley Tailrace Bridge on the new River Levee Trail.
The permanent facilities, each with a men’s and women’s toilet, are made from pre-cast concrete and designed to please the most eco-conscious visitor, according to the manufacturer, CTX, Inc.
“The building is designed with sweet smelling technology,” the Augusta Canal’s Web site notes. “A black plastic vent pipe, located on the back side of the building, always faces south so that when heated by the sun, the pipe creates a continual air flow through louvered vents in the building near the floor.”
That positive flow carries the inside air out through the vent, to keep the inside of the building odor free, it continues.
Restrooms have become more and more in demand along the popular towpath as visitation continues to grow. The restrooms at the grassy meadow, or “The Clearing,” will replace the two orange portable toilets that were added several years ago.
RIVER LEVEE TRAIL: Closer to Augusta, work is continuing on the new River Levee Trail that includes bridges spanning the historic tailrace structures behind both King and Sibley mills off Broad Street.
Augusta Canal Authority Project Manager Russell Foster said the 1,800-foot trail, which begins north of the Olmstead Bulkhead Bridge near Rae’s Creek and passes through wooded and grassy areas between Riverwatch Parkway and the Savannah River, will officially open in October.
The $1.2 million project, which began with land clearing in early 2013, will offer visitors new vistas of the river and back gates of the mills.
In addition to the two bridges, the trail includes a boardwalk leading to the top of the Savannah River Levee, where it will dead-end -– for now.
Future plans call for extending the trail eastward along the levee, creating a pedestrian crossing at the Hawks Gully bulkhead and connections to 15th and 13th streets downtown.
CHANGING A NAME: The organization that created and grew Phinizy Swamp Nature Park into a popular outdoor education venue is changing its name to better reflect its role in environmental research.
Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, founded in 1996 and initially called EcoSystems Institute, will now be known as the Phinizy Center for Water Sciences.
“This new name encompasses dedication to the mission of using unbiased science to find solutions for water quality issues and providing water-based environmental education,” the center said in a statement, adding that the popular park will continue to be a focal point.
“While the center’s work monitoring rivers has expanded beyond the local area to include multiple areas in the southeast, the local association with the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, home base of the program, is of great importance to its identity.”
STORKS AND CORKS: Silver Bluff Audubon Center will hold its annual “Storks and Corks” fundraiser from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 9, which includes wine, a dinner buffet and a chance to observe wood storks that visit the site each summer.
The 3,250-acre sanctuary near Jackson includes a series of ponds built especially to cater to the hungry birds, which were added to the Endangered Species List in 1984 but are being delisted because of a successful recovery.
The tall, bald-headed wading birds are America’s only true “stork.” They can only nest over water and depend on wetlands for food. The birds feed by running their opened beak through the water and snapping it shut when it touches prey, a technique known as tacto-location.
The number of breeding pairs in the Southeast slid to about 5,000 in the late 1970s.
The decline was blamed on wetland habitat loss and alteration in Florida. Many wood storks now nest in Georgia, which has about 20 percent of the U.S. nesting population; or in nearby South Carolina.
Tickets are $50. To register, call (803) 471-0291.
PRIMITIVE HUNTS: Dates have been announced for primitive weapons hunts at the Bussey Point management area in Lincoln County.
Archery-only hunts will be Sept. 19-20 and Oct. 10, while muzzleloader hunt dates will be Oct. 11 and Nov. 14-15.
The Army Corps of Engineers plays host to these hunts annually to maintain the deer population within the carrying capacity for the 2,545-acre area and to improve the quality of the herd.
The bag limit is two does and one quality buck each day of each hunt. Quality bucks are those with racks having four points or better on at least one side, or a 15-inch or greater outside spread.
Muzzleloader hunts are limited to 100 hunters per day to be registered on a first-come, first-served basis. Archery hunters may participate in all scheduled hunts.