Alapaha River Water Trail letter to Lowndes County Commission

Delivered on paper to Commissioner Joyce E. Evans a week ago, and sent by email to all the Lowndes County Commissioners today, with attached PDF. -jsq

WWALS Watershed Coalition
3338 Country Club Road #L336
Valdosta, GA 31605
11 September 2014

Re: Alapaha Water Trail

Dear Lowndes County Commissioners,

WWALS Watershed Coalition is implementing a small grant from Georgia River Network (GRN) to establish an Alapaha River Water Trail. Map, in Alapaha River Water Trail, by John S. Quarterman, for, 23 September 2014 In addition, a grant application opportunity has come up that could result in funding to Lowndes County for related facilities, and perhaps to extend that Water Trail into a system of Blueways also including the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers. In addition to improving local quality of life, either or both could contribute to the economy of Lowndes County by bringing in boaters on the rivers who would buy locally, and providing features attractive to knowledge-based businesses and their employees. All at little or no cost to the county plus grant funding.

The GRN grant involves preparing, publishing, and distributing a map, brochures, cards, and online materials showing access and other points of interest on the Alapaha River and lakes in its watershed. These include Grand Bay and of course the new park at US 84 the county has funded through SPLOST. WWALS would like to put a kiosk at that park about the Water Trail, with a large map, text, and brochures.

As you know, such a water trail fits with the Greater Lowndes 2030 Comprehensive Plan STWP FY 2012-2016, which reads in part:

4.2.8 – Investigate, understand, and utilize Community Blueways.
4.2.9 – Upgrade public park facilities to include more lights, shelters, pathways, etc. where applicable.
4.2.10 – Continue to develop alternative-use trails within public parks.
4.2.11 – Investigate locations for additional bicycle and multi-purpose trails.

A Water Trail (a Blueway) is multi-purpose by definition, being used for canoes, kayaks, swimming, fishing, etc. Water Trails also typically have associated hiking or biking trails.

WWALS would like to ask for a resolution of support for the Alapaha River Water Trail from Lowndes County, and would be happy to help draft such a resolution. Also, GRN has many examples of such resolutions and a template on their website: of Support

In addition the Georgia Trails and Greenways Grants will this year distribute grants for up to $100,000 in its Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

The application will be available October 1st for submission in November. It’s an 80/20 match, but the 20% match can be met in kind. The Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Rec Authority (VLPRA) has indicated it may be willing to be the lead agency.

An RTP grant could be used for further facilities on the Alapaha River Water Trail, such as funding that kiosk at the new park at US 84. It could also be used to extend that into a system of Water Trails including the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers, incorporating VLPRA’s multiple existing boat ramps on those rivers and providing funds to improve them. For example, improving the access road to the GA 133 boat ramp would be an excellent item to include in an RTP grant proposal.

WWALS would like to ask the County Commission’s support for VLPRA’s application for an RTP grant.

WWALS is also contacting nearby counties about both the Alapaha River Water Trail and the RTP grant opportunity.

Thank you for your consideration,

John S. Quarterman

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

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.