WWALS, Georgia Power, and Valdosta: Knights Ferry Cleanup, optional Nankin Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-18

Update 2020-04-20: Livestream.

Update 2020-03-19: Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL.

Update 2020-03-14: Radio TV, and unfortunately the novel Coronovirus may curtail the paddle, but the Cleanup is still on.


Earth Day Cleanup at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River: WWALS, Georgia Power, and Valdosta, April 18, 2020

Hahira, Georgia, March 4, 2020 — Celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day by helping clean up Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Saturday morning, April 18, 2020. Afterwards, those who want to can paddle with us down the Withlacoochee River to Nankin Boat Ramp, cleaning up on the water and when we get to Nankin . This event is the first ever sponsored by WWALS, Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia.

[During Paddle Georgia 2019-06-16]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, During Paddle Georgia 2019-06-16.

“Through this clean up effort we think we’ve found a way to create synergy around environmental stewardship with groups such as ‘Citizens of Georgia Power.’”

[Citizens of Georgia Power]
Citizens of Georgia Power

“WWALS and the City of Valdosta to make sure our waterways are clean and also make sure the public has access to the area’s wonderful natural resources such as the Withlacoochee River,” said Joe Brownlee, Southwest Regional Director for Georgia Power.

[GA Power H Rgb]
GA Power H Rgb

The cleanup is free and starts at 8 AM, Saturday, April 18, 2020. The site is Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 6499 Knights Ferry Rd, Valdosta, GA 31601, in Lowndes County, Georgia. From I-75 Southbound, take Exit 16, turn right onto US 84, then left onto Rocky Ford Road, then right onto Knights Ferry Road, and continue to the end of the road. From I-75 Northbound, Exit 11 is more complicated but quicker.

“We’ll bring as many participants as we can, and I’ll be promoting this event on my radio station, Talk 92.1 FM,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson.

[City of Valdosta]
City of Valdosta

The paddle is free to WWALS members, and $10 per person for non-members. At 10 AM we’ll shuttle most vehicles down to Nankin Boat Ramp, with everybody piling into a few cars to return to Knights Ferry. We’ll start paddling at 11 AM. The paddle is 6.6 miles, so even with dawdling to clean up, it should take about 3.5 hours, leaving plenty of time before dark to clean up at Nankin. If you don’t have a boat, let us know in advance, and we may be able to provide one. Bring the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags.

[Map: Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, I-75]
Map: Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, I-75

“WWALS welcomes this widespread cooperation about our rivers. Maybe we can turn this into a series, with the next cleanup and paddle in Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Suwannee Riverkeeper logo

If your city, county, company, or other organization would like to co-sponsor this cleanup and paddle, let us know. Co-sponsoring can mean anything from helping get the word out to financial contributions. And new co-sponsors will be a good reason for more press releases.

“We would be pleased to co-sponsor and assist with promoting the event on our Brooks County FB page, and to recruit some participation to represent us,” said Jessica J. McKinney, Brooks County Administrator.

[Brooks County]
Brooks County

“Like our BIG Little River Paddle Race fundraiser coming up the following Saturday, this Knights Ferry event, like all WWALS cleanups and paddles, is primarily an opportunity to get out on our rivers and leave them cleaner than we found them,” said WWALS Outings Chair Bobby McKenzie.

We will have a table of WWALS materials, including information about our advocacy, which we consider a positive thing. Our co-sponsors are aware that participation in such events does not mean that WWALS will not continue to oppose some of their policies or actions; nor does it mean that we might not pursue litigation some time in the future. We will answer questions about any topic relevant to our outings or advocacy, and you can ask questions of the co-sponsors, too. But this day is primarily for everyone to enjoy while cleaning up one of our rivers.

How to come: Just show up, but if you can please also mark yourself coming on the facebook event or meetup so as to encourage others.

“We hope to be able to take down our Caution signs for bacterial levels before then. Thanks to WWALS and other testing by the city of Valdosta, Lowndes County, and three Florida agencies, now we know when our rivers are clean and when they are not. And we’re narrowing down the sources of contamination. No, the recent contamination has not been coming from Valdosta,” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall.

[WWALS and Lowndes County]
WWALS and Lowndes County signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

Both Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps are on the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, with two dozen landings on two tea-colored blackwater rivers in two states. Thanks to Lowndes County Public Works for the water trail road signs in Lowndes County.

“We will reprint and replant our pair of metal Water Trail signs at Knights Ferry before the cleanup. And maybe all this good activity at Knights Ferry will convince people to stop stealing our signs!” said WWALS Water Trails Committee Chair Dan Phillips.

Backup: In case of low or high water, weather, or (heaven forbid) bacterial contamination, we will have to cancel.

[Knights Ferry by Suzy Hall]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of high water at nights Ferry.

“On our website are many opportunities to sponsor WWALS events, water trail signs, and brochures, or water quality test kits, or to become a member. Materials and advocacy and staff time cost money, and we hope our outings and advocacy benefit you, so maybe you would like to help,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

[WWALS Logo]

Contact: Bobby McKenzie, 808-445-4503, chevy752001@yahoo.com
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper®
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632