BRUNSWICK — Altamaha Riverkeeper James Holland recently announced he will retire April 30 after nearly a decade of leading one of Georgia’s most active grassroots environmental watchdog organizations.
Holland announced his retirement from the Darien-based nonprofit organization, which he founded in July 2000, in a letter to Riverkeeper members, supporters and the media.
The Altamaha Riverkeeper is dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring the Altamaha River, which is Georgia’s biggest river, and its tributaries the Ocmulgee, the Oconee and the Ohoopee rivers. Long before he helped form the organization, Holland questioned Department of Natural Resources procedures in issuing permits for activities in the waters where he made his living as a crabber.
The organization aggressively monitors pollution and polluters throughout the watershed through a program of water sampling and analysis. It also monitors land-based activities that impact the health of the river including forestry and agriculture practices, wetlands destruction and development.
"With the support of our members, ARK has celebrated many successes beyond the number of environmental concerns we have corrected. Our greatest achievement is the environmental awareness that we helped create throughout our watershed," Holland wrote in his letter. "The term ‘water quality’ is now a household word in most homes, and it was seldom used 10 years ago."
Among the organization’s achievements, he said, is raising public awareness especially among school children and college students, of the river ecosystem and need to protect it.
"The youth of today remain our greatest hope for tomorrow, they know this and exhibit pride in this fact," he said.
Although stepping down as riverkeeper, Holland plans to remain active through his work photographing wildlife and "educating others about what a beautiful world we have out there."