Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Running The Oconee River: North from Dyar Pasture

May 11th, 2012. We launched at the boat ramp at the Dyar Pasture Recreation Area off SM Copeland Road in Greene County. We headed north to see how far we could go. Since we’ve had a drought for several years, the river level is lower than normal. In addition, the Oconee River drains into Lake Oconee. Georgia Power generates hydro power at the dam at the southern end of the lake. They pump water back into the lake. As a result the level of the lake may lower by a foot or so when power is being generated.

Our route

Looking towards a dock at a wildlife viewing area behind an impoundment just north of the boat ramp. This is part of the Dyar Pasture Recreation Area.

Vegetation comes right down to the water along undeveloped sections on the river. The land to the right (east) is part of the Oconee Wildlife Management Area.

A closer view of the shoreline along this section of the river; cattails on the left and Devil’s Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa) in bloom on the right.

Another section of the river.

We were being watched. The left (west) side of the river is private property with fields coming down to the river.

As the river flows around bends, sand banks are created in the inner bend of the river. Vegetation has grown on these banks.

The river narrows further north. The effect of the water erosion is apparent by the height of the vertical bank – at least six to seven feet high, if not higher - on the east side of the river. We had to navigate around fallen tree trunks.

Catalpa (Catalpa species) trees were blooming. I’m not sure if this was a Northern or Southern Catalpa.

At some points the forest was relatively open at the rivers’ edge. Had it been possible to go ashore, we could have made our way into the woods.

We were able to travel about four miles up the river. The water was three to five feet deep at the southern end of the trip. Then the water was shallow; we were running in one to two-and-a-half feet for the rest of the trip. The water level was lower on the return trip than on the outbound trip, indicating that power was being generated while we were on the river.

Highlights of the trip next…
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

Southeastern Flora:
Aralia spinosa (Devil's Walkingstick)
- Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa)

Name that Plant

- Aralia spinosa (Devil's Walkingstick, Hercules' Club, Prickly Aralia, Prickly-ash)

- Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa, Indian Cigar Tree, Catawba Tree)

- Catalpa bignonioides (Southern Catalpa, Fishbait Tree, Cigar Tree)

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