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On Friday, September 26, more than 350 friends and sustainability and business leaders will gather at ecoBenefête, the Georgia Conservancy's annual gala, to recognize the civic leadership of Columbus, Georgia as the Conservancy’s 2014 Distinguished Conservationists. The event will celebrate all those who played a role in recapturing the natural beauty and splendor of the Chattahoochee River as it runs through downtown Columbus. Accepting the award on behalf of Columbus will be John Turner, chairman of the River Restoration Committee.

WHEN:  Friday, September 26 // 7:00 PM
WHERE:  Summerour Studio // 409 Bishop Street // Atlanta, GA 30318

In 2013, after a decades-long effort that touched the terms of five mayors and included the removal of two historic but outdated dams, city leaders in Columbus unveiled the largest urban whitewater course in the world. The opening of the river corridor created one of the South’s great urban outdoor amenities and it is spurring economic development with the river and other natural areas as focal points.

Importantly, the dam removals also restored habitat critical for rare and endangered species such as shoal spider lilies, shoal bass, and a variety of freshwater mussels. The dam removals and whitewater development have benefited both the environment and the local economy, representing precisely the type of balance the Conservancy has supported during its nearly 50 year history. At the intersection of outdoor recreation and sustainable development, people and the environment thrive.

The Distinguished Conservationist award honors the remarkable achievements of great Georgians who improve our lives through the protection of the environment. The Columbus whitewater project and its supporters embody the spirit of that award.

“The Georgia Conservancy felt compelled to recognize Columbus and to honor the leadership and community collaboration that was required to complete a project of this magnitude,” says Georgia Conservancy President Robert Ramsay. “Communities across Georgia should pause and give notice to the positive and sustainable transformation of Columbus. The restoration of the Chattahoochee to its free-flowing rapids and the revitalization of a once abandoned section of the city has shown that celebrating our natural wonders, even in an urban center, is good for the environment and it is good for the economy.”

If you would like to sponsor ecoBenefête, please contact Georgia Conservancy Director of Development Mike Vinciquerra at