Coosa Riverkeeper


Frank Chitwood
[email protected]
(205) 981-6565

The Coosa Valley, rich in aquatic biodiversity and natural beauty, is the one of the most developed rivers in Alabama – The River State. From its headwaters in Georgia and Tennessee the Coosa flows to Alabama where a series of impoundments cover the magnificent shoals that so famously dominated the Coosa in the steamboat era. Unfortunately, the impoundments changed stream ecology to lake ecology, killing dozens of species that once thrived in shoal habitat. As the most aquatically biodiverse subwatershed of the Mobile River Basin, the fourth largest basin in the country in terms of streamflow, the Coosa Valley deserves protection from threats that could further degrade its remarkable character. Our organization was founded in 2010 after American Rivers named the Coosa River one of the ten most endangered rivers in the nation. The three core activities of our organization and our programs are patrolling the waters, educating the public, and advocating for the river. We engage in these activities to further our mission of protecting, restoring and promoting the Coosa River. Our approach to river conservation is driven by the river and its needs, not by politics and self-interest. We supplement our passion for the river with science and an understanding of policy. We get out on the water to see the river and the people who depend on it first hand. When there’s a lack of data or information about an issue on the river, we go collect samples or conduct research. In an age where major decisions  made by lawmakers are based mostly in politics and not in science, we speak up for our river and ensure it is protected from greed and ignorance. We take a watershed approach; we don’t just look at what’s happening on the lakes, we look at what’s happening on all the creeks because it all matters in the scope of a healthy river. Because the Middle and Lower Coosa River Basins in which we work are so expansive at 5,000 square miles, we prioritize our work based on the most urgent issues where we believe our approach to conservation will be most effective. The data that we generate through our research projects, like Water Quality Monitoring, help guide us to the restoration and conservation efforts that will have the greatest impact.

As the staff Riverkeeper, Frank oversees program work, monitors water quality, patrols the river, responds to citizen complaints of pollution, and conducts research. Frank has been the Riverkeeper since he helped found the organization in 2010. His favorite part of the job is talking to people about the value of the river and finding out their “Coosa Connection.” His least favorite of the job is when he has to tell someone it’s not safe to eat the fish where they live. The father’s side of Frank’s family has lived along the Etowah tributary of the Coosa River near Lake Allatoona since about 1830 (well before the lake was built). Frank, though, is a first-generation Alabamian. His favorite places in Alabama growing up were Camp Laney in Little River Canyon of the Coosa Valley and Talladega National Forest. 


102-B Croft St
Birmingham, Alabama 35242