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New riverkeeper hired for Ogeechee

POSTED: November 30, 2017 6:30 a.m.
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Dr. Simona Perry is the new director of Ogeechee Riverkeeper

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Ogeechee Riverkeeper has hired Dr. Simona Perry as its new riverkeeper/executive director.

The nonprofit’s board of directors and current team members recently announced seveal staff changes..

Before being named riverkeeper and executive director, Perry led ORK’s Oral History Project in 2016. You can read more about that project at www.bryancountynews.com/archives/49870/.

Perry, a Savannah native, earned her bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, her master’s in marine policy from the University of Washington, and her doctorate in the human dimensions of natural resources conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before returning home to Savannah, Perry worked seven years as a marine fisheries biologist with NOAA, three years as director of an environmental education non-profit, and 12 years studying and writing about the cultural and political ecology of various rivers in the Norhteast.

As riverkeeper, Perry’s duties will include encouraging partnerships throughout the Ogeechee River basin, increasing membership, strengthening the donor base, building the organization’s Watershed Watch, Healthy Waters, and Hometown Waters programs, and serving as the "go-to" person for environmental issues across the basin.

"I hope to continue to empower river landowners, as well as current and future river users, to become more directly engaged in Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s mission of protecting, preserving, and improving the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin," Perry said.

Assisting her in this mission will be director of operations and special projects Jenn West and outreach and water quality specialist Luke Roberson. Former riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn Kurilla left earlier this year.

The Ogeechee is a coastal plain river. The watershed is home to more than 500,000 people rare fish and wildlife, and covers portions of 22 counties. Pine forest, coastal sands and clays, and wetlands are major landscape features. Environmental concerns include impacts to fish, wildlife, public health, wetlands, marshes, river water quantity and water quality from activities such as titanium and zirconium sand mining, forestry practices, paper mills, solid and hazardous waste disposal, residential and industrial development, sea level rise, and invasions by exotic animals and plants.

The mission of Ogeechee Riverkeeper is to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin. The nonprofit organization, licensed by the Waterkeeper Alliance, receives its operating budget from donations, grants and proceeds from various fundraising events.

"The relationships we build and maintain with landowners, recreational boaters, fishermen and hunters, farmers, foresters, and local governments is, in the end, what will ensure these local and regional places of ecological, cultural, and economic importance are protected for everyone," said Perry. "This means building a network of individuals and organizations who no matter how diverse their perspectives can share a vision of drinkable, swimmable, and fishable waterways for their children’s children."

For more information about Ogeechee Riverkeeper, visit www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or call 866-942-6222.

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