Many people have helped me develop this project, and I want to publicly thank them here, roughly in chronological order. My parents, Walter and Roberta, gave me the freedom to seek adventure and the belief that I could accomplish most anything that I really worked hard at. My brother, Buck, helped me learn about boats and fishing and provided a fine example of seeking adventure and not being afraid. The United States Marine Corps toughened me up, taught me some useful skills, and gave me the opportunity to know and appreciate other lands and other peoples.
My wife and best bud, Kathy, let’s me do most anything that I want and encourages me to do those that she doesn’t think are stupid. (She’s usually right about those, too.) My son, Alex, is a great paddling companion, mostly on rivers of the northwest and an intelligent, steady, skilled, and dependable partner. While this has nothing to do with the trip, he is also a fine man and a great dad. My daughter, Erin, has instructed me in paddle strokes and kayak rolling, and went with me on a wonderful paddling adventure in North Carolina that had been recommended by Tom Palmer. Erin’s Appalachian Trail through-hike inspired me then and now.
Ben LaChance and Mike Saunders have both instructed me and encouraged me in the fine art of paddling and have shared a number of adventures with me. Joe Cook conceived, started and continues to manage Paddle Georgia. Joe and I worked together to develop some run of the river water sampling strategies, and he continues to advocate for Georgia’s rivers, particularly the Coosa. April Ingle, executive director of the Georgia River Network, works with Joe on Paddle Georgia and she and her staff do more than anyone to my knowledge outside of government to protect Georgia’s rivers. The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is the original and still the most effective group advocating for the protection of a single river in Georgia and probably in the country. The Upper Chattahoochee Basin Group is a consortium of local governments that has funded my water quality work on Lake Lanier and it’s tributaries for many years, and they advocate for the protection and wise use of the lake through many other projects. Their support has allowed me to support dozens of students over the years and to develop skills and equipment that will serve me on this project. My dear friend and former colleague, Dr. Mac Callaham, taught me most of what I know about limnology and water quality and set me on the path to doing water quality research.
My colleagues, both academic and administrative, at North Georgia College & State University have helped me grow as a teacher and a researcher, and have allowed me and encouraged me to undertake this project. This is not all inclusive, but I want to mention in the approximate order in which they became involved, Dr. Dick Prior, Dr. Mike Bodri, Dr. David Potter, Dr. Pat Donat, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, Dr. Dan Thompson, and Dr. Royce Dansby-Sparks. The US Geological Survey has provided advice and technical support. Georgia Power Corporation, particularly Tony Dodd, has provided water testing equipment, instruction, encouragement, and friendship. The good folks at the Water Protection Branch of Georgia DNR Environmental Protection Division, ably led by Dr. Liz Booth with great support from Dr. Roy Burke, Alan Fizer, and others, have been instrumental in helping me refine my vision of the project and have generously loaned me equipment and provided crucial data.
The Stonepile Writers Group has encouraged me in creative writing and given me the courage to write and put some stuff out there. Thanks in particular to Dr. B. J. Robinson, Dr. Tonette Long, and Dr. Brian Corrigan. Johnny Molloy, who has written more and better paddling and hiking books than anyone I know, has encouraged me and given me numerous pointers on keeping good notes and then pulling them all together.
Many others have helped me and encouraged me with this project. If for no other reason, I feel compelled to make a good show of it just to keep from letting them down. I am sure that I have forgotten someone who played a key role, for which I humbly apologize, but you know I meant to say, “Thanks,” if only I had a better memory.