The Ebenezer Creek Watershed Protection Demonstration Project
Ambrose, Jonathan P.
Crow, Susan R.
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In 1993 the Georgia Department of Natural Resources obtained funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a watershed-based study of Ebenezer Creek, a blackwater stream which discharges into the Savannah River in Effingham County. The lower portion of the creek, designated a Georgia Scenic River and a National Natural Landmark, is a backwater swamp with an old growth baldcypress-water tupelo community. Over the past ten years this portion of the creek has shown signs of eutrophication, impacting water quality and recreational use. In an attempt to better understand the problems of the creek ecosystem and to find implementable solutions, representatives from various conservation groups and public agencies formed the Ebenezer Creek Technical Working Group (TWG). This group served in an advisory capacity during the course of the study. The overall goals of the watershed study were to determine the eutrophication status of Ebenezer Creek, identify significant nutrient sources, assess watershed management strategies, and obtain community input regarding the future management of this important natural resource area. Studies were undertaken to assess the environmental status of the watershed in terms of biodiversity, land use changes, and water quality. The sampling results from this project were also intended to provide a baseline for future environmental monitoring. Based on study results and general knowledge of the area, the Technical Working Group generated six recommendations regarding future management of the watershed. The study results and management recommendations were presented at a public forum held in Effingham County in October, 1996. Local citizens reviewed and commented on the project findings, and recommended management strategies. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process of the watershed protection demonstration project, to report the findings and management recommendations developed by the Technical Working Group, and to discuss the public's reactions and priorities regarding future management of the Ebenezer Creek watershed.