Another Fun Fall Retreat

By : Sue Harmon, Board past president

More than 90 ForestWatchers attended this year’s Fall Retreat, coming together to stay abreast of current management issues in the Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest and to have a good time while doing it!  Fellowship, inspiration, and good food alongside the beautiful Lake Trahlyta at Vogel State Park made for an event that helped keep us all educated and motivated to continue our work to preserve, protect, and restore this forest that we love.

If you couldn’t make it this year, we hope you’ll consider joining us next year.  Save the date: October 10, 2020, and check with our office about accommodation options.  Consider making a weekend of it, so you can join the Friday evening potluck and the Saturday evening campfire and music.

Highlights from this year include:

  • A big picture review of current forest issues by our Executive Director, Jess Riddle
  • Two informative presentations by our partners at Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Four panelists sharing their environmental advocacy work
  • Memorable role playing when Jess morphed into a Forest Service Ranger just by the change of a hat!
  • BBQ slow cooked on site
  • Delicious crock pot entrees donated by numerous volunteers
  • A choice of three afternoon naturalist outings or a film screening of Burned:  Are Trees the New Coal? 
  • Saturday evening live music around the campfire
  • Raffle and silent auction prizes – some great bargains were had – that’s for sure!

We thanked all the many Retreat volunteers by name in a recent email alert – over half of those in attendance helped in one way or another!  Yes, volunteers are the heart of this organization and without them, this retreat would not have happened.

We would now like to take this opportunity to thank once more all the sponsors and contributors, who donated upfront help make this event happen:


Ben Cash & Vicki Miller

Janet Chapman

Tom & Sally Colkett

Tom & Jeanette Crawford

Mark & Lucy Dickerson

Ted & Lynda Doll

Marie Dunkle

Andy & Melinda Edwards

Sue Harmon

Robin & Janet Hitner

Shepherd & Sarah Howell

Robert Kibler 

Patty Lowe

Denny & Lois Rhodes

Doug & Elaine Riddle

Jan & Dennis Stansell

Marilyn & Ted Stapleton

University of North Georgia Foundation

Lloyd & Bonnie Unnold

Jim & Patricia Walker


Applewood Pottery (Jami Pederson)

Donna Born

Craig Burkhalter

Dahlonega Merchants

Hildreth Davis

Janice Eaton

Melinda Edwards

Anne Heikkila

Dietrich Hoecht

Neill Herring & Sally Bethea

Tom MacMillan

Pamela and Christopher Martin

 Mercier Orchards 

Northeast Georgia Locally Grown


Theresa Ponader

 Brenda Smith

Jan Stansell

 Stover Mountain Orchard (David Govus)  

 Cal & Sandi Tax

Speakers & Hike Leaders:

Sam Evans

Peter McIntosh

Gina Rogers

Jess Riddle

Tally Sweat

Mark Warren

Vicki Weeks