I have arrived back in Marietta after having been immersed in a week on the Altamaha River through participation in Paddle Georgia 2012. I will start by saying the experience was one of the more profound for me of the 4 Paddle Georgia events I have attended. This year had a definite undercurrent which was the discharge produced by the Rayonier Mill in Jesup. I plan to write about my experiences and my opinions on this issue and encourage dialog in the blog of opposing opinions and corrections to any factual information I may have wrong. I wanted to come away from this week with a clear position on this matter but I still have many questions and when I look at the issue it has many layers which cloud the “right” solution to the problem. The trip really created some dialog between many Paddle Georgia members and there are a surprising number of views on this issue. This year I believe was a milestone in Paddle Georgia history. Everyone was aware that we would be paddling directly through the discharge area and like it or not everyone had to contemplate what that experience would be like and to form at least a cursory opinion on what should be done about the problem. We paddled directly through number two (pun not intended but appropriate) on Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen list. This becomes the starting point for the discussion. The Rayonier Corporation is the largest employer in Jesup with over 900 employees. We stayed at the Jameson Inn while in Jesup, and our view was of closed businesses directly in front of us and across the street. With a population in 2010 of approximately 30,000 Jesup is a prime example of the struggles of small town America. People are friendly here, the Wayne County tourism board worked hard to make our visit pleasant, locals were curious about our trip and very engaging. Staying in Jesup for a few days put a face on the other side of this issue, the people who rely on Rayonier for their livelihood and prosperity. I think everyone was impacted by this issue during the week and many will continue as I am to work through the facts and better understand the issues involved. Paddle Georgia may be officially over as an event but I believe this year stands out as one which will continue to shape the actions and opinions of all participants as we return to our respective watersheds.