Benderdinker kayak festival to go on as planned - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Benderdinker kayak festival to go on as planned

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Columbia County, GA (WFXG) -

Benderdinker festival founder Kristina Williams is now paddling away from a dispute that had put the brakes on part of her festival later this month.

"We have gotten permission from the landowner, Champions Retreat, and the surrounding land to paddle through and conduct our festival as planned," she said. "So that is great news."

The whole conflict started when the golf course claimed a segment of the Savannah River that circles their island property as private; something that can only be done in the State of Georgia on non-navigable bodies of water. The federal government, which shares jurisdiction on the Savannah with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said this is a non-issue for them.

"All the water there around that island is navigable waters of the united states," said Army Corp. of Engineers spokesman Billy Birdwell.

However, Georgia DNR's stance remains in a cloud of ambiguity. Williams said a permit for last year's event was issued with no problem.

"It's only this year we were told we couldn't get the permit, and where the issue really came up that it's a private waterway," Williams said. "So there is some area of clarification there for everyone."

By everyone, she means the general public. Though Williams was given permission for her event, that doesn't extend to everyday kayakers like Dakota Bridges and her husband. They paddled right through the section of river Champion's Retreat claims as their own without even knowing it!

"I think it's silly," said Bridges. "It's a river, I think it should be open to anyone. It seems kind of hard to enforce if it's private property."

Williams hopes the matter can be cleared up for everyone once and for all so everyone can enjoy the water.

"We're not out to pick a fight with anybody. This is just a good time, a fun time, for the community," said Williams.

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