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Journalists visit area woodlands

Trip includes lecture on plants

Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hovey Smith visited each folding table at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, offering those seated a taste of the dish he toted in a plastic container.

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"Carp salad?" Smith asked groups at each table.

Few appeared to take him up on his offer. Those who did found it similar in appearance and taste to tuna salad.

"It's better than tuna salad," Smith said. "Carp is not as oily."

Smith, a geologist from Sandersville, Ga., was one of about 25 scribes to visit the area during the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association's annual spring conference, held May 7-10. The association is composed of staff and freelance journalists who cover outdoor recreation opportunities and conservation stories throughout the state. Its membership averages about 40 and includes writers from newspapers, magazines and trade publications.

The conference helped the writers fish for stories and gave Columbia County officials the chance to promote the area in hopes that the resulting material would spread news about the county's outdoors scene to the rest of the state.

"We're a pretty hardcore group," said Smith, 67, who has written many books on bow fishing and bow hunting, including recipes. "We like each other. We like each other's company."

The Savannah Rapids event kicked off the weekend. Food was catered by Rhinehart's and the event was sponsored by the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Among those in attendance were county Commissioners Charles Allen and Trey Allen, and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Tingen.

The conference was organized by Rob Pavey, the outdoors editor for The Augusta Chronicle and newly elected president of the state writer's association.

Pavey's itinerary included a guided striper and hybrid outing on Thurmond Lake, a guided field trip to Heggie's Rock and a Savannah River boat tour. The weekend also included fly fishing, golf for those so inclined and a trip to Savannah River's New Savannah Bluff.

Dr. Judy Gordon, a local botanist and retired professor, led a tour of Heggie's Rock -- a 120-acre granite outcrop in Appling. The tour included lessons on the plant life that thrives in the shallow soil.

The highlight was a lesson on the spreading quill wart, a plant that lives in the bottom of some of Heggie's shallow depressions and is found only in Georgia. Gordon also pointed out Spanish Bayonet, a flower with razor-sharp leaves at its base, various mosses and lichens, and animal tracks. A large snapping turtle greeted the visitors as they made their way down the dirt road to the rock.

"That was so neat," Bob Kornegay, a writer from Blakely, Ga., said. "It did not disappoint at all."



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