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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 11:57am

As River Trickles, So Do Tourists

Months of drought and smoky conditions are taking their toll on some South Georgia tourism businesses.

Many rivers in the region are at record low levels.

Businesses that rely on a steady stream of fishermen, kayakers and boaters are watching the trickles in their local rivers with concern.

The Satilla River is flowing at less than a tenth its normal level about 20 miles from the coast.

Stanley Mieloch of Satilla River Outfitters in Woodbine says, many tourists aren't renting his canoes because there isn't enough water.

"The kayaks and the canoers don't show up because there's no places to go," Mieloch says. "It's all dry up in the estuaries."

The situation is better near the coast where tides rush water in and out -- and on the strong and fast Altamaha River.

"It's bone dry," Mieloch says. "Thirty miles up, you can't run a boat, or twenty miles up, you can't even run a boat out of it."

Smoke from wildfires burning near the Okefenokee Swamp is a compounding factor.

Mieloch says, folks just don't want to go outside.