Altamaha Riverkeeper recently announced that its Oconee River Project Director, Ben Emanuel, will leave ARK at the end of October to join American Rivers.
For the past two years, Emanuel has led the Oconee River Project of ARK, a grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the habitat, water quality and flow of Georgia’s biggest river, the Altamaha, from its headwaters in the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Ohoopee to it terminus at the Atlantic coast and estuary.
Founded in 1999, ARK has more than 1,200 members who support its work to protect the Altamaha watershed.
Emanuel’s work in the Oconee River basin has included advocacy and outreach with the Athens-Clarke County government and with the local business community on water conservation and efficiency, watershed protection and smart land-use planning.
In 2010, he spearheaded a community response to a severe toxic chemical spill in Athens’ Trail Creek following a fire at a local chemical plant.
During his time with ARK, Emanuel also worked for the statewide Georgia River Network, based in Athens. Prior to that, he served as the city editor at Athens’ alternative newsweekly, Flagpole Magazine.
Emanuel joins American Rivers as associate director of water supply in American Rivers’ Decatur, Ga., office and will work in collaboration with the Flint Riverkeeper.
Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of the nation’s rivers and streams through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects and the annual release of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers.”
ARK is making plans now, along with other organizations and community members in the Athens area, to continue the work that Emanuel and supporters have taken on in the upper Oconee River basin.
“It’s been a privilege to work for ARK and the Athens community to protect our environment and the Oconee River. I’m excited to see this important work continue,” Emanuel said. “In the past two years, this community has rallied behind the goal of protecting the Oconee River from the various threats, ranging from high demand for water supply to water pollution problems like the Trail Creek chemical spill. I look forward to joining American Rivers and continuing to work for clean, healthy rivers throughout Georgia.
“Ben has developed ARK’s constituency in the Oconee basin and has worked tirelessly to build support to protect the Oconee River,” ARK Executive Director Deborah Sheppard said. “We are grateful for Ben’s many contributions and will definitely miss him. We look forward to continuing this work and wish him well in his new position. Please contact us if you are interested in lending a hand on the Oconee.”