What is a Watershed?

The Watershed

Imagine a bowl.

In the bottom of the bowl runs the a specific body of water, in this case, the Etowah River. The sides of the bowl are the high points of land, from which rain or snow drains down through tributaries to the river. Everything that happens in the bowl affects to quality of the water.

Watershed MapThe Upper Etowah River Watershed encompasses 610 square miles or 390,400 acres. It includes parts of 5 counties — Lumpkin, Pickens, Dawson, Forsyth and Cherokee — and over 100 tributaries including Shoal, Amicalola, Yellow, Setting Down, Long Swamp and Sharp Mountain creeks. The river begins in the mountains near Dahlonega, and runs 98 miles until it reaches Lake Allatoona.

This is only a fraction of the entire Etowah Basin, which drains approximately 1,858 square miles and includes all 150 miles of river.

Tour The Watershed Here
Meet The Darters

The Upper Etowah River watershed, located in central north Georgia just above Atlanta, encompasses parts of five counties: Lumpkin, Dawson, Pickens, Forsyth, and Cherokee.


What does “Etowah” mean?

It was the name of one or more Cherokee settlements. One, which existed until the Removal of 1838, was upon the Etowah River, about where the present Hightower is located in Forsyth County Georgia. Another may have been on Hightower Creek in Hiawassee River in Towns County Georgia. The name commonly written Etowah and corrupted to Hightower, cannot be translated and seems not to be of Cherokee origin.

It is the name of a former Cherokee settlement near the head of the Etowah River in Georgia. The Cherokees regard this a foreign name, and its occurrence in upper Georgia as well as central Alabama, may help to support the tradition that the southern Cherokee border was formally held by Creeks.

from “History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees”, by James Mooney


Fish Diversity in the EtowahWith 76 native fish species, the Etowah watershed is biologically one of the richest river systems IN THE WORLD!

It is one of the most imperiled river basins as well. We have already lost 15 fish species since the first biological inventories were done in the late 1800’s.

UERA Office Locations
Central Office
Mail: UERA P.O. Box 307
Canton, GA 30169

Cherokee Central Office
180 McClure St.
Canton, GA

Dawson Satellite Office
Dawson County Agricultural Services Center
298 Academy Ave.
Dawsonville, GA

Pickens Satellite Office
Keep Pickens Beautiful Office
Jasper, GA