Sunday, September 10, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT
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Departure Location TBA 



Lisa Lemza 
Wild Ones - Tennessee Valley Chapter 

Wet & Wild! 

See one of the rarest plants on earth-- Ruth's Golden Aster (ptyopsis ruthii)-- from a guided raft on the MIddle Ocoee River.  

All registrations MUST be made by September 1.  
This trip is reserved for Wild Ones members and family only.  
Please register by clicking the "Register Now!" link below.

Registration for this event automatically closes when it is full.  If you would like for your name to be added to the waiting list, in case of cancellations, please email us using the address on the left.

The raft company, Outdoor Adventure Rafting (OAR) also must be paid by September 1. 
The cost is $31.50/person.  Call 800-627-7636 for questions and to pay for the "Golden Aster Trip."


The trip leader is Tennessee Valley Wild Ones President, Lisa Lemza, an experienced white water canoeist.  She routinely runs this section of the Middle Ocoee weekly during the release season.  There are many reputable raft companies on the Ocoee; Lisa has chosen OAR for this trip due to their superbly trained raft guides and excellent safety procedures.  

Any reasonably fit person can do this trip!  If you can do moderately heavy gardening, you can do the trip. Paddling--briefly and at times hard-- is required, but only occasionally throughout the 2-3 hour river trip. You are NOT paddling the entire trip. You will combine paddling and sitting and just taking it in. You may be called to 'get down' quickly on several rapids.  If knees are an issue, we can sit you with the guide in the back.  You will wear a TYPE 5 life vest and a helmet, provided.  Rain suits are also available.  The outing will take a total of 4-5 hours.  TRIP WILL GO RAIN OR SHINE.  In Lisa's opinion, the river is more beautiful in the rain. See more details at OAR's web site at http://raftoar.com/.



Ruth's Golden Aster grows on just a few boulders in the Middle Ocoee (and also in the Hiwassee Gorge), several in the middle of the river which can only be seen from the water.  It should be in bloom at this time.  

From Wikipedia:    "This plant grows in soil that has accumulated in the cracks of riverbank boulders on two Tennessee rivers, the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers. The rocks are subjected to periodic flooding when the river levels rise, submerging the plants and scouring the substrates they grow on. The plants grow in nearly full sunlight and cannot tolerate much shade. The flooding and scouring action of the river water prevents the growth of other plants that might shade it out. The plant is associated with Liatris microcephala (smallhead blazing star), which tolerates the same kind of habitat.

This river plant is threatened by a number of processes that affect its environment. The stretches of river where it occurs are downstream from dams. The Apalachia Dam has eliminated the natural water regime in the Hiwassee River habitat. Water is now piped out of the river to a powerhouse and most of the flow comes from tributaries and runoff from surrounding hills.This stoppage of the normal river flow has allowed plants to move into the small patches of soil occupied by the aster, leading to competition and excessive shade. Troublesome competing plant species include Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Vitis rotundifolia (wild grape), Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper), Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), Lespedeza cuneata (lespedeza), and Microstegium vimineum (Nepal grass).  Water is occasionally released from the dam when toxic pollution builds up and needs to be flushed out of the river. When the aster was placed on the endangered species list, its Hiwassee River population had declined 50% in eight years. Since then it has declined another 40% and all subpopulations are likely to become extinct within 50 years. The other population on the Ocoee River was composed of about 500 plants growing in a habitat affected by nearby mining operations, as well as power production.  It is also located in an area that is subjected to trampling associated with whitewater rafting recreation on the river.  Despite these threats, the Ocoee population, recently counted at 593 plants, is considered to be secure for the time being.

Conservation activities include propagation of the plant in greenhouses. This is made difficult by the infestation of the greenhouse plants by the powdery mildew Erysiphe cichoracearum. The mildew is not present in the wild populations. Competing vegetation has been increasing yearly, and this is likely causing a negative impact. The Cherokee National Forest implemented a plan to remove poison ivy from aster sites, and though this was effective it was not feasible. Mechanical and chemical means are used to remove the vegetation.