Friday, November 2, 2007

Behind the Scenes - Suwannee River Watershed

We see some pretty amazing sights out in the field, and there is nothing quite like the Okefenokee Swamp at sunrise. While shooting last October, we were able to experience the amazing prairies of the eastern swamp at a time when the bird life and alligators were particularly active. Thanks to the drought, the water levels were several feet below average, forcing animal life to congregate more densely.

During this trip, we woke to rain, but soldiered out into the prairies of the swamp anyway and were treated to an amazing sunrise. Thanks to our guides Chip and Joy Campbell, we were able to sneak our boat right up to a family of elusive Sandhill Cranes as they were feeding by the water’s edge, quite a sight to see in the golden light of the early morning. From the stable platform of a motorized tour-boat, we saw dozens upon dozens of alligators corralled along the edges of the canals.

Several months later, the largest wildfire in recent Georgia history swept through the swamp. The Okefenokee images you’ll see on the Suwannee River Watershed episode document the swamp as it was before the burn. Today, the swamp is in a period of regeneration after the spring wildfires. Historically, the Okefenokee burned regularly, and over centuries, fire shaped the swamp into what it is today. I highly encourage a trip to the swamp to witness this amazing natural process.

For the episode, we also took a rare trip out of state. Though we are Georgia Outdoors, covering a topic like the Suwannee river watershed involved following the Suwannee to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico. It was nice to cross state lines and experience some different scenery. Following the Suwannee via the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, we were reminded that nature knows no such artificial borders as state lines. At the mouth of the river, we found salt marsh habitat not unlike that found on our own coast. Another reminder of how intricately connected we all are…I hope that you enjoy watching this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

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