We were able to visit Stekoa Creek on Sunday, April 8, 2018. We followed some paths of the creek in both expected and unexpected locations. Some parts of the creek were filled with trash and plastics, while other parts would pass through developed areas (i.e. next to a pharmacy) and recreational areas like parks. However, these locations make it easy for people to access and pollute.
Stekoa Creek is known as a polluted creek that is located in Rabun County, Georgia. Stekoa Creek Park was opened to the public on August 2015 and was built by the Chattooga Conservancy. Building the park involved cleaning up the trash and rubble that polluted the creek, in addition to the removal of invasive species, such as kudzu and privet, by the community.
Below you can find a map of different parts of Stekoa Creek, including coordinates and images of each location.
Stekoa Creek: Source to Sink
Rabun Gap Biomass Plant
Georgia’s first biomass-fueled powering plant is the Rabun-Gap Biomass Plant, established by Multitrade Rabun Gap LLC. Multitrade is owned by an energy management company based in Syracuse, NY called PurEnergy LLC. The plant has a production capacity of 20MW, and its electric customer is the Coweta-Fayette Membership corporation. This project reused an old textile mill by reusing the mill’s boiler and ancillary equipment. To convert the mill to a biomass plant, a cooling tower, turbine, energy generator and other equipment was added. Georgia is #1 in the nation for the cultivation of commercial timberland and is #3 in the nation for biomass potential, given the amount of available biomass in the state (Stuckey, 2010). We stumbled upon the plant while tracing the Stekoa Creek by car. While the plant was not directly situated by the creek, it is unclear of its environmental impacts given the carbon emissions generally given off by the burning of biomass and the unknown sinks of the residue created by biomass burning.
Sky Valley presents an interesting topography comparanda to Dahlonega. Effectively, all the key places in the town are located in the valley. While perhaps not the best comparanda in terms of commonalities of townships, Sky Valley originated as a resort town (pseudo -country club). Hit hard by the housing bubble in the early 2000s, Sky Valley stands as a shell of its former glory and a reminder of the economic crisis our country is still recovering from. From a planning perspective, the valley is not entirely self sufficient as it is mostly residential with few communal/recreational places, and little to no commercial development. Interesting, the location of the communal places in the valley increases their visibility as the residential housing in the area encircles the valley on higher elevated terrain. The topographic map above shows this formation, with the higher elevated residential zones highlighted in yellow, enclosing the depression of the valley. The steep terrain is not the easiest or most cost effective place to build, many houses rely heavily on extensive man made supports/stilts.
The old ski lodge nested in the heart of the valley is a visual reinforcement of the town’s economic perils (on topo map the red box). While architecturally stunning, upkeep has been neglected and the building is entering into the point where restorative costs likely exceed current capital. This building reflects a quintessential northern Georgia mountain aesthetic, with cedar shingle roofing on steep exaggerated eves create an effective snow and water repellent that suit the local climate. Large portions of the roof are covered with lichen and other moss-like greenery. While almost certainly a long term structural threat, the organic build up ads to the buildings charm.
Leaf Packs and Stream Health
In areas with higher human density (such as beside parking lots or major roads), there was a distinct absence of leaf packs. The high amounts of run off, tree clearing, and channelization that go alongside development prevent the build up of leaf packs. This indicates that human presence is detrimental for macroinvertebrate and thus overall stream health.
Contributors: Jessie Moore, Graham Stopa, Katya Miranda, Angela Jiang, Jim Park
Stekoa Creek Park: Greenspace Restored as a Community Asset. (2017, January 10). Retrieved from http://www.wandernorthgeorgia.com/stekoa-creek-park-greenspace-restored-as-a-community-asset/