Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers are agreed that we are postponing the Mayor’s Paddle due to predicted thunderstorms for tomorrow, Saturday, February 6, 2021,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.
“We don’t want to risk inexperienced paddlers in this kind of weather,” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie, who made the decision to postpone. He added, “The reschedule dates we are considering are Saturday, February 27, and Saturday, March 13. Stay tuned for more on that.“
“We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who had already reached the same conclusion. Bill Holt of Valdosta Boys & Girls Club concurs.
“Plus with rain today and 24-hour test incubation period, nobody can test the river again before a Saturday paddle,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. agreed.
“Yes, we may all look silly if the weather clears tomorrow, but we’d rather look silly than risk people paddling in a thunderstorm,” added WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman.
“There’s also a river access issue. With the rains today, it was not clear Outhouse Port-A-Potties could even get to the midpoint to deposit a potty, much less get it back out after rains tomorrow,” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.
“Speaking of river access, some of you are aware that it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: when we do this paddle, WWALS will have a 16-foot trailer to haul boats and a golf cart for people who don’t want to walk the quarter mile up to the road. At the midpoint, we will also have a truck and trailer waiting to haul out the (few, we hope) people who want to get out there. Thanks again to The Langdale Company for access to both places,” said WWALS member Steve Miller, who is supplying the golf cart.
But not tomorrow. There will be NO paddle tomorrow, Saturday, February 6, 2021.
WWALS will have people at Troupville Boat Ramp to inform anybody who has not gotten the word by then. But we will not be paddling tomorrow.
“When we do paddle, All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.”
About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632
Ashlyn Johnson, Public Information Officer
City of Valdosta