September 2021

Ribbon-Cutting for Three New Cochran Shoals River Overlooks

On Tuesday, August 24, CNPC and CRNRA held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate completion of the replacement of three river overlooks at the Cochran Shoals unit along the Fitness Loop. Well-loved by park visitors for years, the original overlooks had deteriorated beyond repair. In 2019, Chattahoochee Road Runners, a running club that often runs in the park, approached the CRNRA about a donation in memory of member Michael Kaye. Kaye loved the park, and the club’s donation became the catalyst for CNPC to begin fundraising to replace the overlooks. In 2020, donations in memory of another park lover, Chris Poucher, provided additional funds for the project. Further support for the overlooks was contributed by individual and corporate donors, with CNPC collectively raising $60,000 to complete the project.

Construction began in March of 2021, starting with an unstable overlook that had been closed. The first new overlook was opened in April 2021, followed by the completion of the second overlook in May and third in early August. The overlooks were constructed using helical piers, which is a more efficient method of construction that does not require working from the riverbed and offers a low impact approach to minimize disturbance in sensitive areas. All three overlooks boast expansive river views and are now open for visitors to enjoy. For more information on the overlook project, click here.

Volunteering for the Park: How You Can Make a Difference

Are you a regular visitor to the CRNRA? Your national park needs your help. Joining the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program is a great way to support the CRNRA by providing assistance with ongoing needs required to maintain its 15 park units with over three million visitors per year.

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available for people with different interests and abilities. For people who would like to help the park while they visit, they can pick up trash they see along the trails and alert the park to any trail changes or safety issues by submitting an online service request. For more organized volunteering, there are regular trail days at different park units with opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced volunteers. Opportunities range from picking up trash and removing invasive plants to trail clearing and maintenance and downed tree removal. Training classes are offered on various safety and technical protocols. Volunteers can also become site stewards for a specific park unit, regularly walking the trails and monitoring them for changes and safety issues to alert the park.

There are multiple ways you can volunteer to support the park:

Become a CRNRA VIP (Volunteers in Parks):

To become a volunteer for the CRNRA, you must register and complete required National Park Service (NPS) forms.  To learn more about the NPS Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program and begin the signup process click here

Standing volunteer workdays are the first and third Saturday each month, and monthly volunteer meetings are held every second Thursday of the month at the Island Ford Visitor Center. To see the current calendar, click here.

Bring your company or group to volunteer:

Gather with your co-workers and peers for a team-building outing and support the park by spending the morning volunteering with CNPC in the CRNRA. CNPC will work with your group to determine the best and most meaningful project for your team, which will likely include working on the trails or cleaning up litter. Group volunteer events are typically offered on Friday mornings. Please contact Martha.Seabrook@ChattahoocheeParks.Org if you are interested in having a group volunteer event with your company or organization. 

Photo of UPS volunteer work day

Volunteer with CNPC:

CNPC needs your talents and enthusiasm to support our mission to support the park. There are opportunities for tabling, leading hikes, helping at events, and more. Please contact CNPC at for more information on how to get involved.

A Volunteer’s Perspective: Giving Back to the Park

By Susan Ferguson

Put me on a trail and I’m happy. After moving to Atlanta about 9 ½ years ago, I joined the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC) and became an active member. My first year, I logged 200 events (mainly hikes) and realized I was leaving a lot of footprints. Since most were on CRNRA trails, I became a volunteer. Now a site steward for Vickery Creek, I love helping people at the park and encouraging them to volunteer.

In 2019, I became the AOC liaison to the park with the goal to increase awareness of volunteer needs and encourage good stewardship of parks and trails. I worked with CRNRA’s Dave Thomas to introduce the program to AOC Trip Leaders and shortly after led 'Hike-Learn-Protect' educational hikes at several units. Following a break for Covid, the program was restarted this summer, and thirteen AOC members participated in CRNRA’s August Trail Day. Going forward, I plan to organize AOC volunteer events and promote monthly CRNRA trail days. Initially, I wanted to give back to the park, but what I didn’t expect was the joy I would receive as a volunteer.

Exploring the National Park System in Georgia: Leading the Way, Volunteers Maintain the Appalachian National Scenic Trail

    The Appalachian Trail, or AT, is a long-distance hiking trail in the Appalachian Mountains, starting at Georgia’s Springer Mountain and continuing over 2,100 miles to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin. A unit of the National Park System, the official name of the AT is the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Georgia hosts approximately 80 miles of this unique national park unit.

    Maintenance of the AT is a superb example of volunteerism. The AT is primarily maintained by volunteers from a network of 31 “maintaining” trail clubs working under the umbrella of the National Park Service, other designated land managers, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In Georgia, the AT is maintained by volunteer members of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC), a maintaining trail club founded in 1930 to manage, protect, and maintain the AT in Georgia. To accomplish its mission, the GATC truly divides to conquer. The GATC has divided the trails it maintains into Districts, which are further subdivided into roughly one-mile Sections. Every District has a leader, and each Section has at least one responsible maintainer.

    The GATC’s network of approximately 200 trail maintainers volunteer their time to perform tasks such as building and regularly clearing drainage features, cutting overgrowth, picking up trash, and painting blazes. Volunteers also build new trail when rerouting is required, usually due to erosion. Other volunteer jobs include building and maintaining structures such as signs, bridges, steps, shelters, and privies. There are volunteer sawyers (certified for chainsaw and crosscut) dedicated to removing blowdowns and others focused on mapping and managing tools. The most coveted volunteer activity is that of privy maintenance, in which volunteers regularly “level the pile” and perform “privy switches” when the bins become full. Seriously, they probably couldn’t pay anyone to do that!  And that’s the beauty of volunteering.

    Our CRNRA is a very different national park than the AT, with additional opportunities and challenges but with the same need for volunteers. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in the CRNRA, which do not include privy maintenance, please visit the volunteer page of our website. 

    Photo: GATC volunteer sawyers David Groves, Mark Neas, and Clardy Schwarz clear a blowdown in the Mark Trail Wilderness Area using a crosscut saw.

    Family Fun: Introducing Volunteering

      Parents are always looking for ways to foster an early love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors to their kids. Introducing the concept of volunteering through outdoor-oriented volunteer activities is an excellent way to teach them the importance of supporting their community and conserving natural spaces, including national parks.

      For young ones, early family-friendly volunteer activities could include picking up trash along a local trail. Older children could volunteer for trail maintenance days, join a river clean-up, or help with education events. Starting volunteering early creates awareness and positive experiences to support a lifelong interest in giving back.

      Birds in the Park: Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

        Many people have hummingbird feeders in their backyards and delight in watching the constant feeding and beautiful flashes of color. For hummingbird lovers, the CRNRA is a fantastic place for observation. The many native flowers along the river and trails draw a variety of pollinators, including hummingbirds, most commonly the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).

        Ruby-throated hummingbird males and females both boast iridescent green feathers that glitter in the sunlight, but only males have the tell-tale bright red throat. With wings beating around 53 times per second, they zip between nectar sources in a continuous hunt for tubular flowers, preferably red or orange, to support their incredible expenditures of energy. They also eat small insects such as mosquitoes and gnats and even small spiders, pulling insects from their webs. Important pollinators, hummingbirds distribute pollen that clings to their foreheads and long beaks as they dip deep into flowers.

        To see hummingbirds in the park, look for wildflowers along the river and trails, then stand still and look for movement. There may be a variety of pollinators amongst the flowers, including larger butterflies and smaller bees, but the hummingbirds will distinctively dart from plant to plant. For more information on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, go to

        Photo of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird by Samir Kamat

        Flora and Fauna in the Park: Spotted Jewelweed

          Searching for hummingbirds? Look for Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), also known as native impatiens, found throughout the park. Adored by pollinators, Jewelweed has beautiful, pouchlike yellow and orange flowers and can grow two to five feet in height.

          Jewelweed gets its name from water droplets such as dew and rain that bead up on the large leaves and sparkle like jewels in the sun. The sap from its stems has been used for centuries by Native Americans to promote healing and remove pain and itching from rashes like poison ivy, insect bites, and wasp stings. The large leaves are edible and can be cooked like greens, while small leaves and seeds can be eaten raw, with seeds tasting like toasted walnuts. Also known as "touch me nots," ripe jewelweed seed pods burst open when touched and distribute seeds several feet in all directions, an adaptation for seed dispersal. To learn more about Jewelweed, go to

          Photo of Spotted Jewelweed by Vicki’s Nature

          Book of the Month: On Trails by Robert Moor

            Trails are designed to take us from one place to another, but the paths they take to their destinations vary widely. In 2009, Robert Moor was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail when he began thinking about the importance of trails as a foundation of journeys. He spent the next seven years exploring trails around the world to understand how they are formed, why they follow direct or meandering paths, and how we choose which paths to take both physically and metaphorically. Moor traces the impact of trails from the development of civilization and connecting communities to modern applications such as the internet. Readers will find On Trails to be filled with intriguing questions and insights about trails and where they lead us.

            Upcoming Events:

            Volunteer in the Park:

            NPS Trail Day, September 18

            LEARN MORE

            Wellness Event:

            Yoga in the Park with SweetWater, September 23

            LEARN MORE

            Walk & Talk:

            Geological Wonders of the CRNRA, October 14

            LEARN MORE

            Family Event:

            Picnic in the Park, October 17

            LEARN MORE

            Kids in the Park:

            Artful Nature Mapping,

            October 23

            LEARN MORE

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            YOU can help us achieve our vision of an inspired and thriving community of support for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

            CNPC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are proud to support our Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a unit of the national park system managed by the National Park Service.

            Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy
            P.O. Box 769332, Roswell, GA 30076
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