Landowner Helen Tapp spoke a week ago at the Lowndes County Commission about their historic purchase of her 71+ acres to add to 49 VLPRA acres to make a Troupville Nature Park and River Camp.
Below are videos and transcript of what she said about her vision and hopes for the site. For the entire meeting, see the LAKE videos.
7.a. Purchase of Between the Rivers, L.L.C. Property
Lowndes County Engineering Director Chad McLeod said the purchase is for land from Land Between the Rivers, of approximately 71.47 acres, for $121,500.
On a motion by Commissioner Demarcus Marshall, seconded by Commissioner Scottie Orenstein, the Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase.
Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter then said they were honored that landowner Helen Tapp had come down from north Georgia to speak to them.
She thanked them and said that out of respect for their time with their full agenda she was going to stick to her comments and also might get emotional. She said:
In consideration of your action today, I want to thank you for your leadership in securing land for what promises to become a major community asset the Between the Rivers Nature Preserve, I call it.
I don’t know what you’ll ultimately name it. Of course, Troupville might be in the name. Then again, I’m fond of Land Between the Rivers. Maybe the name will include River Park or River Camp. But I respectfully request that part of its official name include the words Nature Preserve, to ensure that the goal of this site’s conservation easement are highlighted and honored. Perhaps the Troupville River Park and Nature Preserve will be the name, who knows.
But together with the 49 acres already owned by the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority, now there will be 120 contiguous acres in public stewardship, for recreation, reflection, exploration, interpretation, and celebration.
Just as the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers come together here,
this place can be the confluence of art, science, history, education, outdoor activities, and community collaboration.
banners, boats, sandbars, and saws: WWALS chainsaw cleanup at Land Between the Rivers, 2022-06-25
As the county continues to develop, this small piece of nature will become an increasingly important haven for the plants, animals, and people of the area.
Today is the realization of a dream for me, to have this land conserved and in the public domain. But in truth, it’s not anything about me, and it’s just the beginning. There’s so much potential.
I hope that the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority, county and city authorities, and community leaders will encourage the establishment of a friends of the park group, that represents a wide range of stakeholders, from a variety of disciplines and interests, from water sports and fishing and water quality, to history, science, the arts, and education. A friends group can be the boots-on-the-ground champions for the place, raising awareness and support, and leading projects.
For example, I envision an annual celebration with lectures, awards for competitive art exhibits, and science projects. I would even be willing to contribute financially toward this kind of initiative.
Flyer, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022
A friends group could also be instrumental in planning and advancing development of a river camp for paddlers as part of a blueway for the county, as has been proposed to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program.
Already many people have come together to secure this land for the public in perpetuity. From the Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS to the Valdosta-Lowndes Historical Society, Keep Lowndes Beautify, the Chamber of Commerce, and One Valdosta-Lowndes, there is already a collective vision and network of support. It can and should be nurtured and grown.
The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, which holds the conservation easement on the 71 acres, will be an excellent partner and resource in support of local stewardship.
This land was undoubtedly a gathering place for native Americans before colonial Georgia was established. It has been in my family since the early 1800s. And now it will be public land for the forseeable future.
Just as you have sheparded this project to this point, I hope you will continue to lead your voice and leadership to support this special spot with its blackwater, white sand, palmetto thickets, and cypress giants.
I salute you and I thank you. And I offer special thanks to Rachel Thrasher who couldn’t be here today, and Chad McLeod who have been so great, and Ms. Dukes.
I encourage you, and I’m told for the public record, I need to give you the website, I encourage you to look at the website, which is www.landbetweentherivers.com
And some of you may remember this from 2019,
Dignitaries at Confluence, 2019-06-15
when over 300 people from around the state paddled by this site and got a fan, and it says:
Helen Tapp welcoming Paddle Georgia 2019-06-15
“green space that will be available for public fishing, water trail paddling, camping, hiking, birding, nature journaling, art, historical site interpretation, heritage, education, ecological studies, watershed protection, and more. And the site of Troupville, Lowndes County’s former county seat.”
Troupville River Camp at the center of the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).
I thank you very, very much. And I hope, even though I will no longer have any standing, with regard to this property, and I can be just looked on as a crazy lady from Atlanta, I hope you will let me be a friend of the park in the future. Thank you very much.
9. CWTBH – John S. Quarterman
First I said I would send in written comments about the the rezoning for a Dollar General on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road, which earlier in the same meeting the Commission had tabled until January 24, 2023. I asked for letters that had been sent about that rezoning, per an open records request I had filed the preceding Friday. It turns out the county had already sent the correspondence the previous day.
Then I complimented them about the land purchase. Apparently they are quite modest, since some of them didn’t want to hear it.
Here is what I said, minus interruptions:
I want to congratulate you all for doing that. Good things sometimes take awhile. I know it’s been at least four years since Helen started talking about this. And you can look at it as taking even longer, because she has a plat there from 1908 for that land, so you can look at it as 114 years, but you finally did it!
That’s the positive. You did something that took 114 years. You’ve accomplished it.
And what you’ve accomplished is also that the land purchase accounts for most of the required cash match towards the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program grant application, if y’all should choose to cooperate in doing one this year. As you probably know, August First is when applications open for that.
Project Timeline from 2019
Now, for that application they want to know, and I’m sure everybody else wants to know, I do, where’s the money going to come from for ongoing maintenance.
And I’m going to be on the Mayor’s radio show Thursday morning. I’m going to remind him that I think he mentioned to me that One Valdosta-Lowndes was going to rustle up that money and this would be a great year for them to do that.
I have one other thing. Which is I’d like to invite…. First, on trash. Thank y’all for what you’re doing about trying to keep the trash from blowing off, because that often gets into the waterways, gets into the rivers.
Lowndes County Litter Control at Nankin Boat Ramp. Photo: Bobby McKenzie, who was an intern for WWALS at the time.
Including Saturday, we’re doing a cleanup on the Withlacoochee River, y’all are invited, from Knights Ferry to Nankin Boat Ramps. If you want to come, we’ll be happy to provide you with a boat, PFD, gloves, whatever.
So, and thanks again for purchasing that land. It took some time, but good things take time. You accomplished it! Thank you.
Lowndes County buys land from Helen Tapp for Troupville Nature Park and River Camp 2022-12-13
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission, Valdosta, Georgia, December 13, 2022
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®