24th Annual Conasauga River Watershed Cleanup

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Whitfield County and Murray County residents are invited to participate in the 24th Annual Conasauga Watershed Clean-up event on Saturday, October 27, 2018 to help keep local waterways clean at one of seven locations.

One of the largest local volunteer events in the community the annual Conasauga River Clean-up is hosted in partnership with several local non-profits, businesses, and environmental organizations during United Way’s Make a Difference Day.

Last year 290 volunteers picked up and removed more than 10,000 pounds of garbage from seven locations. “Volunteers that come out and participate are of all ages and walks of life so it is a wonderful opportunity to get to know other people while doing a service for your community.” Said Amelia Atwell, an event participant.

One of the six most biologically diverse freshwater river systems in the United States, the Conasauga River supports 24 endangered species and a dozen other imperiled species, including the Southern Pigtoe mussel and the Conasauga logperch, a fish found nowhere else in the world.

This year’s event takes place concurrently from 9:00 am to noon at seven different sites across both Whitfield and Murray counties. Be a part of the tradition by volunteering at one of the following locations:

1. Conasauga River at Carlton Petty Road bridge

2. Conasauga River at Highway 2 bridge

3. Conasauga River at Lower King’s Bridge and Norton Bridge

4. Holly Creek, Murray County, on the Chattahoochee National Forest

5. Mill Creek tributary in the City of Dalton

6. Coahulla Creek at Prater’s Mill

7. Lakeshore Park in the City of Dalton

Participants are encouraged to arrive early for on-site registration. Volunteers can expect to spend a couple of hours in the morning picking up trash and, depending on the location, removing invasive plants like Chinese privet. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, and long sleeve shirts. Gloves, and trash bags will be provided at each site. T-shirts with this year’s river cleanup logo will be available on a first come first serve basis.  

To learn more about the river cleanup call Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful at 706-278-5001 or visit www.KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.org to download the event flyer with directions to each site. Join and share the event on Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.

Gretchen Lugthart, a long-time organizer of the event stated, “I think we have made some progress regarding people’s attitudes toward trash in this region, but until everyone respects our beautiful streams and rivers enough to dispose of trash properly, then we will have work to do.”

Event sponsors and organizers include: Shaw Industries, J+J Flooring Group, The Nature Conservancy, Rivers Alive, Dalton Utilities, United Way of Northwest Georgia, Dalton State College, Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, Whitfield County Public Works, Conasauga River Alliance, Limestone Valley RC&D, US Forest Service, Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, Murray County and Whitfield County Extension, Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful, and Murray County Public Works.

Whitfield restoring creeks, wetlands

By Kelly Jackson
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. -- On property off Tilton Road in southern Whitfield County, an intermittent stream meanders through a field bordering the Conasauga River.

"You can imagine (that) literally this was just a big muddy pond; the cows would walk in and out of it to drink," said Norman Barashick, executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority.

That was before the authority's restoration efforts as part of its mitigation bank program. The drainage area that once was a cow pond is now a flowing stream. Around the stream are native plants and trees that will one day keep secret its very existence.

"The overall goal of this project is natural growth," said Dirk Verhoeff, environmental manager with the authority. "We're supposed to help it along, but in time it's going to take care of itself."

The authority owns and operates the Conasauga River Mitigation Bank, established in June 2005. Through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mitigation bank program, independent agencies can preserve and restore streams and wetlands in exchange for credits. Those credits can be sold to developers whose projects will impact streams and/or wetlands.

Mr. Verhoeff said that to qualify for the mitigation bank, a project must include at least 50 percent restoration.

Alan Miller, a section permits chief with the Corps of Engineers' Savannah District, said developers whose projects affect wetlands can mitigate the impacts on or off-site, buy credits from a land bank to offset the impacts or pay an in-lieu fee to the Georgia Land Trust to buy aquatic resources.

Mr. Miller said the mitigation bank program, which was created about 15 years ago, is "very robust" in Georgia. There are about 60 active banks across the state.

Mr. Barashick said the Corps of Engineers determines how many credits a mitigation bank has and how many credits a developer will need to offset an impact.

The officials said the total number of credits for any given bank is a proprietary secret and the value can't be assessed because it fluctuates.

County Commission Chairman Mike Babb, who is also an authority board member, said local governments benefit from having credits available. He said the city and county have purchased credits for development.

Commissioner Mike Cowan said the local mitigation bank is "win-win."

"You have to make the improvements to the environment to be qualified to receive the credit, so just the fact that you're improving the environment is a positive," he said.



  • Green sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Warmouth
  • Red shiner
  • Golden shiner
  • Bullhead minnow
  • Creek chub
  • Eastern mosquitofish


  • 3 tracts of property, about 120 acres
  • 200-foot riparian corridor preserved or restored along about 2 miles of the Conasauga River
  • 150-foot riparian corridor preserved or restored along both sides of about 2 miles of existing and constructed waterways
  • 3,700 linear feet of stream restoration
  • To date the authority has sold about 20 percent of potential credits for about $1 million.
  • The bank's primary service area consists of four watersheds within the Coosa River Basin. This includes portions of Bartow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield counties.

Sources: Dirk Verhoeff, Norman Barashick


Learn more about the mitigation bank program at www.sas.usace.army.mil.