Who We Are

Since 1993, our staff, board and members have served as advocates for the wise stewardship of the natural resources of the Upper Coosa River basin, or watershed, which stretches from southeastern Tennessee and north central Georgia to Weiss Dam in Northeast Alabama.

This includes the Coosa River, the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers and the tributaries of these waterways as well as the land drained by these streams and the air that surrounds this land area.

Our Rivers

The Upper Coosa River Basin occupies three different physiographic provinces including 1. Blue Ridge, the core of the ancient Southern Appalachians 2. Ridge and Valley, the largest province with primarily limestone geology 3. Piedmont, gently rolling hills south and east of the Blue Ridge. The Coosa River system begins as tiny springs in the Cohutta Mountains of Northwest Georgia (headwaters of the Oostanaula River) and in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Central Georgia (headwaters of the Coosawattee and Etowah rivers).

The Oostanaula

The Oostanaula arm of the Coosa River basin drains communities like Dalton, Ellijay and Calhoun. It is formed by the confluence of the ConasaugaRiver which begins in the Cohutta Mountains along the Georgia-Tennessee border and the Coosawattee River with headwater streams the Ellijay and Cartecay rivers beginning on the flanks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central North Georgia.

The Conasauga is 47 miles long, and ranks fourth nationally for the number of federally threatened and endangered species in a single watershed.

The Coosawattee flows about 25 miles from the town of Ellijay to Calhoun.  It is dammed to form Carters Lake just downstream of Ellijay. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Carters Dam is the tallest earthen-fill dam in North America and creates a 400-foot deep reservoir that is 2nd deepest in the eastern United States. A second, re-regulation dam is located downstream of this dam.  Two crayfish and a fish are endemic to the Coosawattee River system.

From the meeting of the Conasauga and Coosawattee, the Oostanaula flows 47 miles to Rome where it meets the Etowah to form the Coosa.

The Oostanaula contains the last remaining population of a critically imperiled snail, the interrupted rocksnail.

The Etowah

The Etowah River arm of the Coosa system drains a large swath of North Georgia including Atlanta’s northern suburbs in Forsyth, Cherokee, Fulton, Cobb and Bartow counties. It begins as a tiny spring at Hightower Gap along the Appalachian Trail, about 15 miles northwest of Dahlonega and then flows 160 miles to Rome where it meets the Oostanaula forming the Coosa River. It drains a total of 1,858 square miles. At least four species of fish, a crayfish and an aquatic insect are endemic to the Etowah system. Major Tributaries include Amicalola Creek, Long Swamp Creek, Shoal Creek, Little River, Pumpkinvine Creek, and Euharlee Creek. Allatoona Dam near Cartersville, completed in 1950, blocks the river’s path and forms Lake Allatoona.

The Coosa

Formed by the confluence of the Etowah and the Oostanaula River in Rome, the Coosa flows 600 miles to the Mobile River and Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.  From Rome, the Coosa winds to Weiss Dam near Centre, Alabama.  Below Weiss Dam, it merges with the Tallapoosa, forming the Alabama River.

Notably, the Coosa River is home to one of the few populations of naturally-reproducing striped bass in the country.  Each spring, thousands of striped bass journey into the Coosa and Oostanaula rivers in Rome from Weiss Lake to spawn.

Major tributaries of the Coosa between Rome and Weiss Dam include Big Cedar Creek, Little River, and Chattooga River.

The upper Coosa River basin has a higher percentage of endemic species (critters found nowhere else on earth) than any other basin in North America.

Biodiversity

Draining more than 5,000 square miles of land, the Upper Coosa River Basin ranges from Southeastern Tennessee and North Central Georgia to Weiss Dam in Northeast Alabama and holds an incredible array of aquatic species.

Etowah Darter

No other river basin in North America has a higher percentage of endemic species than the Upper Coosa River Basin. Thirty (30) different species of fishes, mussels, snails and crayfishes call the waters of the Coosa—and no where else—home. Researchers call the Upper Coosa Basin a “globally significant biological treasure.”

Locate Your River

Achievements

Staff

JESSE DEMONBREUN-CHAPMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & RIVERKEEPER

Jesse joined CRBI in December 2016 as Executive Director and Riverkeeper. He previously served two and a half years at Ogeechee Riverkeeper based in Savannah where he worked as the organization’s outreach coordinator. Prior to moving to Savannah,  Jesse worked for a refugee resettlement agency in Stone Mountain, served as a director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Georgia for four years, and also served for a short time on the CRBI Board of Directors. He is a 2008 graduate of Berry College where he studied Biology and English. Jesse serves on the Leadership Team for the Georgia Water Coalition and for Waterkeepers Alabama. He lives in Rome with his wife Ashley, daughter Lilliana, and son Felix. In free time, he loves to run, skateboard, and mountain bike.

Courtney Paige Altice, Communications Manager

Courtney Paige Altice is the Communications Manager with CRBI.  She was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains and spent her formative years in West Virginia where she earned a BA in International Studies from WVU in 2012.  Her time in Appalachia left her with deep reverence for the natural world and a deep passion for finding the ways humanity can live in harmony with the ecosystem.  After graduating from university she continued to pursue her passion for the environment through activism and herbalism.  She earned her PBA degree in Herbal Studies from MUIH in 2017.  She currently lives in Rome, Georgia with her two children Zyena and River.  She enjoys gardening, reading, and writing poetry in her free time.

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Board of Directors

JESSE DEMONBREUN-CHAPMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & RIVERKEEPER

Jesse joined CRBI in December 2016 as Executive Director and Riverkeeper. He previously served two and a half years at Ogeechee Riverkeeper based in Savannah where he worked as the organization’s outreach coordinator. Prior to moving to Savannah,  Jesse worked for a refugee resettlement agency in Stone Mountain, served as a director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Georgia for four years, and also served for a short time on the CRBI Board of Directors. He is a 2008 graduate of Berry College where he studied Biology and English. Jesse serves on the Leadership Team for the Georgia Water Coalition and for Waterkeepers Alabama. He lives in Rome with his wife Ashley, daughter Lilliana, and son Felix. In free time, he loves to run, skateboard, and mountain bike.

Courtney Paige Altice, Communications Manager

Courtney Paige Altice is the Communications Manager with CRBI.  She was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains and spent her formative years in West Virginia where she earned a BA in International Studies from WVU in 2012.  Her time in Appalachia left her with deep reverence for the natural world and a deep passion for finding the ways humanity can live in harmony with the ecosystem.  After graduating from university she continued to pursue her passion for the environment through activism and herbalism.  She earned her PBA degree in Herbal Studies from MUIH in 2017.  She currently lives in Rome, Georgia with her two children Zyena and River.  She enjoys gardening, reading, and writing poetry in her free time.

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