Clean Withlacoochee River Thursday for WWALS Boomerang Saturday 2020-10-22

You couldn’t ask for better water or weather conditions than for the WWALS Boomerang tomorrow (Saturday), from Georgia into Florida and back from State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.
wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang/

And for the rest of the Withlacoochee and probably the Suwannee River, too. Even the report we got of a spill Monday in Valdosta appears to have been a false alarm. All water quality test results are advisory, since conditions can change rapidly. But no significant rain is expected, so happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend, especially at State Line Boat Ramp!

[Chart, State Line, Boomerang, FL-6]
Chart, State Line, Boomerang, FL-6

The weather prediction at Clyattville, GA, is for 70 degrees at 9AM, and 80 at noon, partly cloudy, with little chance of rain. There’s also been little rain for a week, so nothing much has washed into the rivers.

Those pesky shoals should be easier this year. The water level yesterday at the USGS Quitman Gauge was 2.3′ (85.81 feet NAVD88). The Thursday before last year’s Boomerang, October 24, 2019, it was 1.65″ (85.15 feet NAVD88). So the Withlacoochee River is about 2/3 of a foot or 8 inches higher than it was last year.

All that plus clean river water! Continue reading

Rivers Alive bandana for cleanup before WWALS Boomerang tomorrow 2020-10-24

Come on down at 8 AM tomorrow (Saturday) and help clean up at State Line Boat Ramp before registration starts for the WWALS Boomerang, and you’ll get one of these Rivers Alive bandanas.

[Rivers Alive bandana for cleanup before WWALS Boomerang]
Rivers Alive bandana for cleanup before WWALS Boomerang

Before paddlers race from Georgia into Florida and back, we’re going to spiff up Mozell Spells, Madison Highway Boat Ramp, or whatever you call it, at GA 31, CR 150, below Horn Bridge. You can help!

And you can go ahead and bid in the online silent auction:
https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsboomerang2020

Rivers Alive is “Georgia’s annual volunteer waterway cleanup event that targets all waterways in the State including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, and wetlands.”

We already did that earlier this month, and these bandanas came in afterwards. So we’re giving them out at this additional cleanup! Continue reading

Lunch and drive by mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-06

Since there are two weekend outings in the Okefenokee Swamp 7-8 November 2020, I suggested some paddlers may also want to drive by the proposed titanium mine site southeast of the Swamp. Kim Bednarek, Executive Director of Okefenokee Swamp Park, suggested we meet first at Lacy’s Kountry Store in Moniac, for lunch, talks, and discussion. She and Rena Ann Peck, Executive Director of Georgia River Network, will say a few words. Also saying a few words will be either Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman or WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. Possibly we will have another speaker.

[Moniac marked by green ellipse]
Moniac marked by green ellipse on the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and the Okefenokee Swamp.

No doubt everybody will have plenty to discuss, considering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just abdicated oversight of streams near the mine site and Twin Pines Minerals says it will plow ahead yet TPM still needs five Georgia permits.

This is just a small, informal, side trip. We will only be able to see the mine site from the public highway. Yes, I did ask TPM if they would hold a tour for us, but they said they were only allowing employees and contractors on their site.

When: Noon, Friday, 6 November 2020.
Please come early so we can start at noon.

Where: Lacy’s Kountry Store, 389 GA-94, St George, GA 31562.
They have a wide selection of foods you can order.

GPS: 30.518918, -82.224829

Event: facebook

May I also recommend you read this book: Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, by Janisse Ray. Continue reading

Silent auction online for WWALS Boomerang paddle race

You don’t have to wait for Saturday and the WWALS Boomerang to bid in the online slient auction:
https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsboomerang2020

You can bid on paintings by Julie Bowland, a day trip by NWXpeditions, a Life Outdoors archery package, a one month SBMS Crossfit membership, kayak racks, cake, bowl, pump, and more!

[Silent Auction]
WWALS Boomerang 2020 Silent Auction

You can even buy a $30 ticket to the Boomerang through the silent auction link.

Everything about WWALS Boomerang 2020 is here:
wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

Videos: Vote on wood pellet farm –Adel City Council 2020-09-21

The Adel, Georgia, City Council passed the two ordinances for the wood pellet plant with no discussion, yet with some votes against, and protestors outside and inside, on September 21, 2020. There are still things you can do to stop this polluting project that would export our trees from throughout the Suwannee River Basin and beyond, to Europe to burn, producing yet more CO2.

[Protesters outside and in, and the Adel City Council split vote for the wood pellet plant]
Protesters outside and in, and the Adel City Council split vote for the wood pellet plant

Below are links to each LAKE video of those agenda items, with a few notes.

See also Vicki Weeks, Dogwood Alliance, 16 October 2020, Industrial Logging and the Wood Pellet Industry Hurt Us All.

And Dogwood Alliance’s petition to call on Georgia leaders to protect our forests.
https://www.dogwoodalliance.org/actions/stop-the-destruction-of-georgia-forests/

You can also ask GA-EPD to reject the air permit application. Probably more on that later.

For background, see: Continue reading

Adel spilled ten days ago; did not show up in downstream water quality data 2020-10-10

Adel, Georgia, spilled 7,500 gallons of raw sewage from its West Ninth Street lift station ten days ago, according to GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report today.

The spill occured on Saturday, October 10, 2020. Apparently there were no detectable effects downstream at Valdosta and below, but we’d still prefer Adel not to spill raw sewage.

[Adel spill]
Adel spill

It’s about 34 waterway miles downstream to US 41 on the Withlacoochee River, which is the first place for which we have data. On the Monday two days after the spill, Valdosta did see elevated Fecal coliform at that North Valdosta Road location, but E. coli was within limits. Those US 41 readings were actually lower than for the Friday the day before the Adel spill. Same story farther downstream at GA 133 and US 84: lower Valdosta test results Monday than Friday.

Downstream from US 84, all results by Valdosta and Madison Health into Florida were good for Monday and the rest of that week. So apparently the Adel spill had no detectable effect downstream at Valdosta and farther. See the Continue reading

This Saturday, with more sponsors and higher water: WWALS Boomerang paddle race into Florida and back to Georgia 2020-10-24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, September 4, 2020 — The water’s up, and we’ve added sponsors at State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River 9 AM this Saturday, October 24, 2020. For the WWALS Boomerang paddle race you can choose 1, 2, or 3 miles downstream into Florida, and then back up. There will be food, drink, prizes, and an online silent auction.

[WWALS Boomerang 2020]
WWALS Boomerang 2020
PDF

Tickets are on sale now, $30 online or at the event.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2020-tickets-118844038719

Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie says, “There is plenty of room for distancing at the boat ramp, and even more room on the water. We will have someone at the one big shoals to direct you.”

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said, “Thanks to Bobby for getting Olympia Bend Shooting Range as a sponsor! There’s no need to be shooting up our water trail signs. And let’s not forget Life Outdoors, who are supplying two archery packages in the online auction, along SBMS Crossfit, NWXpeditions, and others.”
https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsboomerang2020

Bobby McKenzie added, “With Madison Outpost Adventures we now have four outfitter sponsors, adding to VSU CORE, NWXpeditions, and Banks Lake Outdoors. Thanks to Carter & Sons for cooking barbecue that WWALS will serve for purchase. Drinks will be available from Kona Ice, and we will have water dispensers. In addition to the $100 First Prize, each of the many winners will get a Boomerang tumbler!”

Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 24, 2020, with the race to begin at 11 AM.

Come early if you want to help clean up at the boat ramp. We’ll give you a spiffy Georgia Rivers Alive bandana facemask.

[Open containers of alcohol prohibited]
Open containers of alcohol prohibited

State Line Boat Ramp is at 6461 Madison Highway, Valdosta, GA 31601. If online maps misdirect you, try 6600 Madison Highway. You may also know it as Mozell Spells, or Madison Highway Boat Ramp; it’s at Horn Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, just north of the GA-FL line on Madison Highway, also known as GA 31 and Madison County CR 150.

Heading south down I-75, take Exit 11, turn west, and keep going until you see the boat ramp sign, then turn right. From Madison, Florida, head up CR 150 until you cross the river, make a U-turn, and head down to the ramp.

Everything about WWALS Boomerang 2020 is here:
wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang Continue reading

Sign up for final toll road Task Force meetings 2020-10-19

Please register today to comment with in the last M-CORES Task Force meetings Tuesday (Suncoast Corridor) and Wednesday (Northern Turnpike Corridor). You must register online by 5PM the day before each meeting.
https://floridamcores.com/calendar-of-events/

Previous public comments overwhelmingly oppose these toll roads, but we need still more comments.

[Pie-chart 93-percent-AGAINST 10 14 20-0001]
Pie-chart 93-percent-AGAINST 10 14 20-0001
PDF

Please tell the Task Forces to reject their Final Report, because it established no need, yet left it possible for FDOT to continue preparing to build these toll roads. Ask the Task Force to outright reject the Report and instead to report No Build.

After the Florida Governor cut $1 billion from the budget is no time to be wasting tax dollars on toll roads for which their own Task Forces can find no need. In addition to all the damage these toll roads would do to our rivers, springs, and swamps, without need, these Florida toll roads would be broke from the start, just like Texas SH 130.

Yes, this is yet another deadline after the report comment deadline. But please do also comment to the Task Force.

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS is a signatory of the Join Comment Letter by members of No Roads to Ruin (NRTR), and Suwannee Riverkeeper voted in the unanimous Waterkeepers Florida approval to sign that letter.

NRTR has released a Press Release with analysis showing 93% of public comments so far oppose the toll roads, with only 4% for and 3% unclear. That puts numbers on the massive public opposition that was visible even in the Suncoast Connector Task Force report “summary of the most common comments/themes received from the public”.

[Graph 93-percent-AGAINST 10 14 20-0001]
Graph 93-percent-AGAINST 10 14 20-0001
PDF

Rural Florida needs fast Internet service, but no new roads are needed to do that. For hurricanes, better shelters and rural solar and batteries for power afterwards would cost much less and be much more effective than these toll roads.

Please add your comment to the Task Force saying No Build! Continue reading

Suwannee paddle for Visit Suwannee County + FL 6 & State Line 2020-10-16

The movie extras took a side trip up Sugar Creek on a 1.5 mile paddle down the Suwannee River from Suwannee Springs, after the old 93rd Drive bridge, pursued by the Suwannee County Sheriff, to the Suwannee Canoe Outpost at the Music Park.

[Sheriff, Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, Gretchen]
Sheriff, Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, Gretchen, departing Suwannee Springs beach

Thanks to Charissa Setzer of Visit Suwannee County, Florida for the invitation for paddlers to be videoed for a tourism advertisement.

Thanks to Bret Miller of NWXpeditions and Mylinda Greene for the mini-distanced-shuttle. Thanks to Dawn and Lisa of Madison Outpost Adventures for joining us, along with Steven E. Scott of Luxury Lawns, Gretchen Quarterman, and John S. Quarterman.

NWX and MOA along with VSU CORE are outfitter sponsors of the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back, coming up next Saturday, October 24, 2020, at State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.

[Third Annual WWALS Boomerang]
Third Annual WWALS Boomerang

Thanks to Steve of Suwannee Canoe Outpost for the take-out hospitality.

Also thanks to the Sheriff’s deputy for helping carry my boat up at Suwannee Canoe Outpost.

See also facebook pictures by

All us paddlers are now officially models, since we each signed a model release.

Suwannee Springs

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading