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Tour to teach about streams
Participants will learn how to protect and restore banks
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Tour of sustainable stream banks

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Starting at Old Clarkesville Mill, 385 Grant St., off U.S. 441

To register: 706-754-9382 or


On Saturday, Justin Ellis will try to patch what he sees as a disconnect between land owners and the natural world around them.

Ellis, director of the Soque River Watershed Association, will lead about 50 people on a tour of Northeast Georgia stream banks with a goal of teaching how to best protect crumbling shores.

"There's a disconnect between people's understanding of ... stream properties in general, just how streams are designed to change shape through time," he said. "It's important for all of us to have a basic understanding of how that happens so that we can allow the river to work and change."

Ellis will teach participants about natural channel design stream bank restoration, an approach developed in the last 15 years.

"For the last 50 years or so our approach to handling stream banks was to straighten them, (and) if you did have erosion problems to use lots and lots of stone to try to armor the banks and very little vegetation," he said.

The natural channel design embraces a stream's natural and untouched state and tries to restore eroding banks to that condition.

Attendees on Saturday's tour will visit five stream banks. The first is a site where a future natural restoration project is planned. There, the group can view the devastation of an eroded stream bank, Ellis said.

The last site will be where the first natural restoration project in Georgia was implemented in 1998.

One site will also show the group a natural and untouched stream bank, Ellis said, which will hopefully show them what restoration projects should aim for.

There is space on the tour for 50 people and Ellis said he will take reservations through Friday. He said the tour is not just valuable for those living on the Soque River but on any stream in Georgia.

Ellis said it's been difficult for property owners to know on their own how to handle crumbling stream banks, and he would like to see communities take a more proactive approach to education about the issue.

"We can't expect people to just know how streams function," he said. "We have to be teaching each other."


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