Two dams on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Ga., have altered the ecosystem and prevented the waterway from flourishing. But with the help of a $1 million donation from Aflac, the Chattahoochee Restoration Committee will soon restore the river to its natural state, helping native species like fish and flowers thrive.

John Turner, chairman of the Chattahoochee Restoration Committee, explains in this video how the project will make a significant impact on the local community.

The restoration consists of three 'big ideas': removing two historical dams to restore two and a half miles of river ecosystem, establishing a new outdoor recreational space with the largest stretch of urban whitewater rafting in the world, and revitalizing the natural river environment. Among the local species that are expected to flourish once again in the Columbus stretch of the Chattahoochee River are shoal bass, the shoal spider lily and Alabama shad fish.

The Aflac donation represents a sizable boost to the $26 million project, which is spearheaded by Uptown Columbus Inc. and will include a Riverwalk, a Rails-to-Tails project, a new pedestrian bridge and a new commercial plaza.

“We became engaged with the Chattahoochee Restoration Project based on Aflac being founded in Columbus, Georgia in 1955,” says Alfred Blackmar, Vice President of Facilities and Green Committee Chair at Aflac.

“The restoration of rivers will have a great impact on the local community,” he said. “It's going to bring thousands of people to Columbus. We're very proud to be working with the restoration group and look forward to helping them execute their vision.”

For more information on the project, go to ColumbusGaWhitewater.com.

Transcript

John Turner: Chattahoochee River Restoration Project was built on three big ideas, and the first is that we want to remove two historic dams and that will restore about two and one half miles of the river. The second ideas is in doing that, we're going to expose some very significant rapids. So we'll create a recreational resource that will be important for the entire region.

And third, by activating the river, we're going to be a catalyst for revitalization. This will probably be the longest, and the most significant section of rapids in an urban environment, in the world.
A significant portion of our funding is attributed to the environmental benefits of the project. The species that'll benefit most, one is the shoal bass, and it has been out-competed by species that are adapted for a pond-type environment.

And then there's the shoal spider lily that also wants to be in this exact kind of environment, and then maybe the most interesting species, is the Alabama shad. Alabama shad migrate to spawn, in precisely this kind of environment. So there's a major project underway and we have funding that's associated with that. It's a $26 million project, and Aflac invested $1.0 million for what we want to accomplish. Aflac is a big supporter of this project.

Alfred Blackmar: We became engaged with the Chattahoochee River Restoration Project, based on Aflac being founded in Columbus, Georgia in 1955. The restoration of the river's going to have a great impact to the local community. It's going to bring thousands of people to Columbus. We're very proud to be working with the River Restoration group and look forward to helping them execute their vision.

John Turner: If a town our size wants to accomplish something of this scope, we need the big support from major corporations like Aflac, and they've been front and center in making sure that this project happens.