Paula Reidhaar, newly hired by the Board of Winyah Rivers Foundation as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, enjoys the variety of duties her new job entails.
But, like so many residents who live near the Waccamaw River from Conway to Georgetown, there’s nothing like simply spending some time on the scenic river, Reidhaar says.
“Getting to actually be on the river doing cleanups and monitoring is a great way to appreciate the valuable and beautiful resource in our own backyard,” said Reidhaar.
The Waccamaw River is of the upmost importance to the Grand Strand area, providing drinking water and a virtual playground for wildlife enthusiasts, birders, boaters, fishermen and hunters.
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“The Waccamaw is a fairly pristine river in many ways and therefore protection is key,” said Reidhaar. “Through education of the public and volunteers we can spread environmental stewardship and have a long term, large impact.”
Reidhaar replaces Christine Ellis, who had served as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper since 2006 and is entering a part-time role with the Winyah Rivers Foundation.
Of course, Reidhaar’s duties involve much more than cleanup on and monitoring of the river.
Reidhaar’s job description involves plenty of advocacy work, such as keeping an eye on permit applications through the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that could affect the water quality in the river.
“Providing and maintaining fishable, swimmable, drinkable water is the main focus [of the job],” said Reidhaar. “Development is one major issue. The Riverkeeper works to find a balance between development, which will come, and protection of the river.”
The Waccamaw Riverkeeper is part of the Winyah Rivers Foundation, which is concerned with protecting not only the rivers that flow into Winyah Bay but ultimately the bay itself.
“The Waccamaw Riverkeeper is a program under the Winyah Rivers Foundation which focuses on maintaining fishable, swimmable and drinkable water,” said Reidhaar. The Winyah Rivers Foundation’s overarching goal is to protect the watershed of the Winyah Bay.”
Anyone interested in supporting the Winyah Rivers Foundation take note of the organization’s upcoming fundraiser – the Hobnob at Hobcaw. The event is scheduled for March 15 beginning at 4 p.m. at Kimbel Lodge and Pond Shelter at Hobcaw Barony located just north of – you guessed it – Winyah Bay.
Tickets are $25 for Winyah Rivers Foundation members and $30 for non-members. For more information, visit www.winyahrivers.org/riverroast.
Winyah Bay Heritage Festival
The heritage and lifestyle the Winyah Rivers Foundation works to protect and ensure for future generations will be on full display this weekend in Georgetown.
Aside from Native American inhabitants, Spanish explorers were credited with the first expedition into Winyah Bay, in 1526.
The bay is considered the third largest watershed on the East Coast, and drains the Black, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Sampit and Waccamaw rivers.
The event is free to the public and will be held at venues in Georgetown centered around historic Front Street. The festival features a wide-range of events and exhibitors, all related to the history of and life in the Winyah Bay vicinity.
For more information, visit www.winyahbayfestival.org.