Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2020-05-31

I’ve posted green for “Meets water quality standards” on Swim Guide all the way from Cook County Boat Ramp (GA 76) on the Little River for last weekend, and the same past State Line Boat Ramp into Florida for late last week. With little rain lately and none forecast, this clean trend should continue.

[Folsom Bridge (GA 122) in Swim Guide]
Folsom Bridge (GA 122) in Swim Guide

These water samples look clean. And this time that water was clean. Continue reading

Toll Roads webinars are illegal: ask Florida Governor to repurpose funds to pandemic relief 2020-05-28

There’s no point in attending the toll roads webinars: instead ask Florida governor DeSantis to use the toll road funds for pandemic relief.

FDOT didn’t listen to First Amendment Foundation: “All portions of the Sunshine Law continue to apply even during this horrible pandemic. No part of the Law has been suspended or modified as applied to state agencies. As a result, I respectfully request that FDOT exercise patience, cancel any and all M-CORES Task Force meetings, and reschedule the meetings only when members of the Task Force and Florida citizens can fully participate in-person and by all feasible means.

Instead, FDOT scheduled more bogus webinars this week, starting tomorrow.

[FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)]
FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)

Better: please ask Florida governor DeSantis to repurpose toll road funds to pandemic relief.

Thanks to the No Roads to Ruin (NRTR) steering committee, here is the FAF letter to FDOT (PDF).

News coverage: Continue reading

WWALS Trivia Online Tuesday, 2020-06-02

It was fun last time, so let’s do it again: WWALS Trivia Online Tuesday. Follow the above link for the zoom parameters to join us 7PM Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Our host, new WWALS board member Shelby Miller, will lead us through questions about rivers, plants, animals and minerals.

[Shelby Miller to draw]
Shelby Miller to draw

When: 7 PM, Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Where: Online.

Event: facebook

WWALS Advisor Joe LaForest will be behind the scenes keeping everything running.

Most of the questions came from charter board member Bret Wagenhorst.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Winner: Raptor, flower, paddling organization, tree base: Within These WWALS #6 2020-05-16

The winner of Within These WWALS #6 is…

Emmy Kidder.

She wins a packet of WWALS photo notecards from that watershed, sent via postal mail from WWALS charter board member Bret Wagenhorst.

Swamps and Springs WWALS picture notecards

Here are the answers to Within These WWALS #6.

Name this native raptor that can dive into water and catch live fish, has white under its wings making it easier to identify from below, and builds its nests atop trees over bodies of water, like this one shown atop a cypress at dusk.

Osprey, Pandion haliaetus.

We paddle by this nest most every time on our Banks Lake Full Moon paddles. The next one is coming up Continue reading

Tens of thousands commented against a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp

Hahira, Georgia, May 30, 2020 — From every U.S. state and beyond, tens of thousands comments poured in to the Army Corps against a permit application for a titanium strip mine far too near the unique blackwater gem of the Okefenokee Swamp. The comment period ended Thursday. You and your elected officials can still ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the right thing and deny this permit, or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement.

[44,000 commenters against strip mine on a map]
44,000 commenters against strip mine on a map

“With its unique ecosystem and incomparable beauty,” says Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “the Okefenokee Swamp is a national and international treasure, and the source of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers. With its opportunities for boating, birding, fishing, photography, adventure, and hunting nearby attracting 600,000 visitors a year and supporting more than 700 jobs, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) provides more economic benefit to each of Georgia and Florida than any other refuge.”

The groups supporting the Swamp and opposing the mine include twenty Waterkeepers from three states, and umbrella organizations Waterkeepers Florida and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org, 229-242-0102.

See below for a longer press release from Georgia River Network about the several dozen organizations loosely associated to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from anything that might harm it, such as this strip mine for private profit for paint.


Tens of Thousands Voice Opposition Over Mine Proposed to be Located Next to the Okefenokee Swamp

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Naylor Boat Ramp Out and Back, Alapaha River 2020-06-13

Join us for a one-mile paddle upstream and back from the newest boat ramp on the Alapaha River.

There’s plenty of room to stay six feet apart on the ground and ten feet apart on the water.

When: Gather 9:30 AM, launch 10 AM, Saturday, June 13, 2020

Put In: Naylor Boat Ramp, 6955 US 84 E, Naylor, GA 31641, in Lowndes County, Georgia.
From Valdosta go east on US 84, cross the river, make a U-turn when you can, go back west across the river and turn right into the park around the boat ramp. There’s also a nice beach in the park a bit downstream from the boat ramp.

GPS: 30.92507, -83.03867

Take Out: Naylor Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

[Naylor Boat Ramp, 2020:03:06 16:35:28, 30.9253889, -83.0393611]
Photo: Tasha Ekman Laface, Naylor Boat Ramp, 2020:03:06 16:35:28, 30.9253889, -83.0393611

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Last day to comment to the Corps against strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-05-28

Today is the last public comment day to ask the Corps to stop a strip mine so close to the Okefenokee Swamp you can see both from a few hundred feet up.

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Drone aerials of titanium mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-11-23.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Georgia Sen. Purdue last November,

“The initial project location is the farthest that mining activity would be from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) boundary and the Okefenokee Swamp. Any additional mining that occurs within the 12,000-acre permit area would be closer to the refuge. The northwest boundary of the permit area is within a half mile from the refuge boundary and 400 feet from the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.”

FWS also spelled out the bottom line: “It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to demonstrate what the extent of impacts of the project will be to surrounding natural resources.”

And the applicant still has not done that, not even in its second application.

A few miners profiting by selling titanium dioxide for paint is nowhere near sufficient reason to risk the unique treasure that is the Okefenokee Swamp, which is also the headwaters of both the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.

Please comment to the Corps

Today you can still ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop this strip mine:
To: CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Be sure to ask the Corps to deny the permit, or at least to require an Environmental Impact Statement.

Or use the convenient comment form in this Action Alert by Waterkeeper Alliance:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/take-action-protect-okefenokee-swamp-from-a-titanium-mine/

Or this convenient comment form by Georgia River Network:
https://www.congressweb.com/GEAN/225

For far more information about this bad strip-mining proposal, see:
http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Winner: Butterfly, bridge, pointy, flower, what river? Within These WWALS #5 2020-05-09

The winner of Within These WWALS #5 is…

Sara Jones.

She gets a packet of Withlacoochee and Little River picture notecards from the WWALS photo notecards, sent via postal mail from WWALS charter board member Bret Wagenhorst.

WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River picture notecards

Lots people who were on #PaddleGA2019 knew Spook Bridge, but apparently the plant spooked them. Continue reading

Withlacoochee River still clean 2020-05-25

Update 2020-06-02: Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2020-05-31.

Still more good water quality results from Madison Health and Valdosta for last Thursday and Friday, and from WWALS tester Suzy Hall Saturday and Monday, so all the Withlacoochee River “beaches” on Swim Guide remain green for “Meets water quality standards”.

Because there still hasn’t been hardly any rain, nothing much has washed into our waterways. Yes, now we’re really taking down our WWALS yellow diamond Caution signs.

WWALS will continue testing and consolidating results. You can help.

[Nankin Boat Ramp in Swim Guide]
Nankin Boat Ramp in Swim Guide

Suzy Hall for WWALS got 200 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on Saturday, May 23, 2020. While that’s higher than the long-term average limit of 126, it’s well lower than the one-time limit of 410.

Monday at Nankin, she got Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Strawberry Moon Paddle, 2020-06-07

Leisurely sunset paddle and watch the June Full Strawberry Moon rise over the lake.

No, there’s no curfew in Lanier County now (confirmed with the Lanier County Sheriff), and since there’s no shuttle on this outing, we can all stay 6 feet apart on land 10 feet apart on the water.

Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is in the Grand Bay–Banks Lake ecosystem. We usually see birds, bats and alligators. Sunsets are usually spectacular, and the full moon over the tree tops reflected in the lake is a sight to see.

When: Gather 7:30 PM, launch 7:50 PM, Friday, June 5, 2020

Moon and sun: Sunset 8:33 PM, Moonrise 8:41 PM

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members, optional during this virus pandemic period. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

[Sunset behind cypress]
Sunset behind cypress on Banks Lake Full Storm Moon Paddle 2020-02-09.

Continue reading