Adel, GA, 18 February 2013 — WWALS Watershed Coalition opposes closing Old State Road to Hotchkiss Landing at the Alapaha River, and proposes Lowndes County instead increase access and conservation of the Alapaha River by creating a park, which will also boost the regional economy.
The Lowndes County Commission will vote Tuesday February 26th on closing the only public access to the Alapaha River in that county. A regional watershed group, WWALS Watershed Coalition, suggests instead that the county purchase land along the Alapaha to create a county park with a boat ramp and trails to match the ones on the Withlacoochee River in Langdale Park.
“A park would simplify maintaining the 100 foot natural vegetative buffer required by the state in a Protected River Corridor,” said Dave Hetzel, WWALS President. “It could even reduce potential liability to the county from stranded boaters coming downstream from Lanier County, by giving them easy access to the shore for their safety,” said Karan Rawlins, WWALS Board Member. It would conserve the wooded Alapaha River that has been featured in literature about the county for fifty years or more now. “And that would help water quality in the river,” said Al Browning, WWALS Board Member.
Such a park, especially as part of a multi-river park system, would be attractive to new and old businesses and their employees. “That would be a boon to the local economy,” said Garry Gentry, WWALS Board Member. “I believe we had nearly 15 people from as far away as Tifton on a canoe and kayak trip to that landing in 2009,” said Bret Wagenhorst, WWALS board member. The Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area could use a riparian park system worthy of a major MSA. Perhaps Lanier County would like to participate, as well, with a park on the other side of the Alapaha River.
Funding for such a park could come from several sources; Lowndes County’s Comprehensive Plan says $500,000 is available for just such purchases; the Georgia Department of Natural Resources makes grants for such purchases using federal funds; and local residents are sufficiently interested that they may help raise funds.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority is aware of these possibilities, and is willing to explore them. WWALS invites the Lowndes County Commission and other interested parties to help, for conservation of water and woods, for recreation, and for the regional economy.
WWALS is an advocacy organization working for watershed conservation of the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems watershed in south Georgia and north Florida through awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen advocacy.
WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. incorporated 8 June 2012. Its board currently includes four people each from Lowndes and Tift Counties and one from Berrien County, ranging from farmer to financial consultant to elected official to invasive species researcher to ophthalmologist to college student.
Dave Hetzel (President), John S. Quarterman (VP), Brittney Hull (Treasurer), Nathan Wilkins (Secretary), Gretchen Quarterman, Bret Wagenhorst, Garry Gentry, Karan A. Rawlins, Al Browning.
Pictures of the Alapaha River at Hotchkiss Crossing:
John S. Quarterman, Vice President
wwalswatershed at gmail.com
WWALS Watershed Coalition
3338 Country Club Road #L336
Valdosta, GA 31605