By Amalia Kortright, For The Tribune
MOBILE — University of Alabama students Chris Cochrane of Gadsden, and Collin Williams of Nashville, completed a 340-mile paddling trip, titled “Kayaking for Conservation,” from Tuscaloosa to Mobile to raise awareness about river conservation efforts. The students traveled down the Black Warrior River and the Tombigbee River for 15 days.
Cochrane is a recent graduate of Alabama’s environmental science program, and Williams is currently studying marine science. Both students wanted to highlight the importance of freshwater conservation to Alabama’s ecosystem, as well as apply skills that they learned in school to the outside world.
“People don’t usually talk about freshwater conservation until something terrible happens, so we really wanted to expose the citizens of Alabama, and the
country as a whole, to this important concept,” said Cochrane.
Cochrane and Williams concluded their journey at Scott’s Landing in Mobile on Friday, May 27, and were welcomed by family, friends and staff from Mobile Baykeeper when they arrived. Williams hopes their trip will encourage others to remain aware and respectful of Alabama’s ecosystem, which contains 38 percent of North America’s fish species, and the most freshwater fish, crayfish, turtle, muscle and snail species of any state in the U.S.
“I hope our trip inspires others to get outside and experience everything the streams and rivers of Alabama have to offer,” said Williams.
Proceeds from the trip will benefit Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Mobile Baykeeper, two organizations from Alabama that are affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance. According to Executive Director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper Charles Scribner, their trip is an important way to show the links between Alabama’s rivers.
“Through river exploration, a great American tradition, these students have highlighted the connectivity of Tuscaloosa and Mobile, while also supporting the two Waterkeeper groups who protect that vital nexus,” said Scribner.
Mobile Baykeeper has also expressed their gratitude for the students’ efforts.
“What these guys did to raise awareness for river conservation in our great state is beyond admirable,” said Mobile Baykeeper Development Director Justine Herlihy.
Black Warrior Riverkeeper is an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Black Warrior Rivershed. Mobile Baykeeper seeks to protect and maintain the Mobile Bay Rivershed and coastal communities. More information on these organizations is available at www.blackwarriorriver.org and www.mobilebaykeeper.org.
For more information about the students’ journey, visit their Facebook page, “Kayaking for Conservation.” Donations are still being accepted to support their cause here.