-revitalize a river-
“The Great Coharie River Initiative has excited and aroused the passion of the Coharie Tribe. Our elders and youth understand more every day the healing medicine that our river holds and we now have reclaimed a part of us that was lost.” – Greg Jacobs, Coharie Tribal Administrator
The Great Coharie River Initiative
The Great Coharie River has served the Coharie Tribe for generations as a spiritual center to fish, swim, relax, and commune with nature. However, in the 1990s two hurricanes devastated the river. Fallen trees and debris clogged the once free-flowing water, and the beaver population grew so much that their dams took over the river banks.
Nearly 20 years later, the Tribe is working to bring back the river. They began by partnering with the NC Forest Service to safely clear the Coharie River. They purchased supplies and equipment, including chainsaws and a work boat. Volunteers, which included members of the Coharie and neighboring tribes and area residents, removed fallen trees, debris, and beaver dams.
After three years of work, 13 miles of the river have been cleared, and volunteers have logged more than 5,000 miles on the water.
The restoration project has brought together young and old to experience the river again. Elders share stories from their youth, and many people talk about the healing quality of the river. The river is now open to the public, and many people swim, fish, and kayak on its waters. The nonprofit Friends of the Sampson County Waterways has provided kayaks and paddles to the tribe, and organized eco-tourism trips for groups that want to visit the river.
By restoring the river, the Coharie people have passed on a tradition of environmental stewardship to the next generation; taught others about the importance of appreciating and using natural spaces; and built community around outdoor activities and community health.
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The Coharie Tribe initially worked to restore the river by themselves, but after they partnered with the NC Forest Service their impact expanded. If you have a natural space that needs to be restored or protected, look for partners who can help. A great place to start is the NC Conservation Network, which connects nearly 100 environmental and community justice organizations.
The Coharie also reached out to other tribes and local people residents to provide the manpower necessary to get the work done. You might find similar support through local outdoor organizations, schools, and community groups. Advertise in your local paper, through social media, and by speaking at public events.