This spring river lovers have the opportunity to save endangered species—the kind that live in our local rivers and streams and the kind that work to protect these species— through the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s Canoe-a-thon. And, they can win some $5000 in prizes while they are at it.

CRBI, the Rome-based river protection group, is now enlisting individuals to raise money through the organization’s annual Canoe-a-thon as part of WATERFEST XI, an environmental education and paddlesports extravaganza set for May 6-7 at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome.

The Canoe-a-thon allows individuals to raise money on behalf of CRBI and compete to win some $5000 in prizes. Those raising the most money can win everything from Air Tran plane tickets to a new Old Town canoe. CRBI hopes to raise at least $8000 through the Canoe-a-thon to fund its efforts to protect North America’s most biologically diverse river basin.

“The Coosa River basin is home to 15 federally protected species, and we work to enforce laws that keep these critters with us,” said Joe Cook, Executive Director & Riverkeeper. “But, if our organization is not adequately funded, we become endangered too. About 70 percent of the money we spend on our programs comes from local donors.”

Participants in the Canoe-a-thon have from now until May 7 to raise as much money as possible. Donation forms can be downloaded at CRBI’s WATERFEST website: or participants can set up their own online fundraising page at

Those raising the most money can choose from a host of great prizes including Air Tran Airlines tickets, 7-day mountain vacation getaways from Villas at Coosawattee in Ellijay, a new canoe from Old Town, a new kayak from Cedar Creek Park, clothing from Patagonia and much more.

Those who donate $5 or more to the Canoe-a-thon receive a ticket (or tickets depending on donation level) to win a new canoe courtesy of Cedar Creek Park in Cave Spring.

WATERFEST XI will feature a 13-mile race on the Oostanaula River, Canoe & Kayak Tug-O-Wars at Ridge Ferry Park and an Environmental Fair. The Fair includes live reptile and raptor show, a mammoth aquarium stocked with fish from the Oostanaula River, exhibits, children’s activities, great food and an Environmental Quiz Bowl tournament for area elementary schools.

Registration is now open for the Race and Tug-O-Wars at

Lead sponsors of WATERFEST include Johnson Outdoors, Carlisle, Necky Kayaks, Ocean Kayak, Old Town Canoes & Kayaks, Extrasport, South 107, Q102, 93.5 Life FM, WRGA, Temple Inland, Pirelli, Mohawk Industries, Soymet 101, Villas at Coosawattee, Georgia Power Co. and WSB-TV and its Family 2 Family affiliates SCANA Energy, Air Tran, Kroger, American Signature Furniture and Northside Hospital.

Other sponsors include Harbin Clinic Vitality Center, SCANA Energy, Whittington, Jones & Rudert, MACTEC, Marglen Industries, Terra Renewal, Burgess Insurance Services, Profile Extrusion, Blue Sky Outfitter, Cedar Creek Park, Greater Rome Bank, Rome-Floyd Parks & Recreation, Purple Mountain Natural Foods, Egghead Solutions, Matt Owens Logging, Old Tymer BBQ, The Medicine Shoppe, Dixie Homecrafters, Village Theaters, Tellus Museum, Lavender Mtn. Hardware, Travel Leaders, Santa Fe Cattle Co., Patagonia Atlanta, Lieberman Chiropractic, Papa Johns, Planet, Adams Outdoors, Kaliedo Sno and Harvest Moon Café.