Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle in Valdosta Daily Times

Good article; thanks VDT. Although it looks like WWALS will need to display a large banner saying: WWALS Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers, one of our many monthly paddles.

[Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman, Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter --GQ]
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman, Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter –GQ

Brittanye Blake, valdosta Daily Times, March 5, 2023, Up the River: Paddle focuses on clean waters

See also the WWALS video of what the Mayor and Chairman said.

VALDOSTA — Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter led the Fourth Annual Withlacoochee River paddle last weekend.

[Getting in, 10:12:31, 30.8514595, -83.3475713]
Getting in, 10:12:31, 30.8514595, -83.3475713

The paddle has become a tradition since the mayor’s first year in office. The paddle is a two-mile or an 11-mile river paddle, passing the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and down to Spook Bridge.

Well, it is in the Suwannee River Basin. Although it is on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers.

Back to the story:

The paddle is an outing which also serves as a clean-up for any trash found in the pathways.

Every WWALS outing is a cleanup.

[Some trash bags, 15:15:23, 30.7893767, -83.4512986]
Some trash bags, 15:15:23, 30.7893767, -83.4512986

Back to the story:

Gretchen Quarterman, executive director of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, said the partnership started in 2020 as a way for the community to appreciate its surroundings.

“We are really showcasing that the Withlacoochee in Valdosta is a beautiful and primitive feature that citizens can use any day,” she said.

[Happy paddlers, 10:29:38, 30.8497396, -83.3333480]
Happy paddlers, 10:29:38, 30.8497396, -83.3333480

Quarterman said the WWALS Watershed Coalition advocates for the rivers in the Suwannee River Basin to maintain the water quality and hold polluters accountable.

Slaughter said, “The paddle supports the preservation of our rivers with clean up but certainly it is the camaraderie and appreciation of everyone coming together to protect our blue waves in Lowndes County.

[Trash bags with Bird Chamberlain --Gretchen Quarterman]
Trash bags with Bird Chamberlain –Gretchen Quarterman

“Now with the acquisition of the land near Troupville Boat Ramp, we will be able to put in a park that will have trails, possible campsites and an educational component to ensure that the history of Troupville is highlighted. This would be great for our young folks.”

7.a. Purchase of Between the Rivers, L.L.C. Property
Videos: Lowndes County buys land from Helen Tapp for Troupville Nature Park and River Camp 2022-12-13

Matheson said the paddle idea developed from a meeting with 13 counties in Florida about the sewage build up in local rivers. He said the issue prompted him to take action and join forces with Slaughter to address pollution issues.

WWALS videos: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08
WWALS videos: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08

“We remained committed to keeping our waterways clean from the first year I met with other officials. Now that we have the rivers clean, we want everyone to enjoy by making this an activity for families.

“The nature park is a dream come true for the city and county. Anyone that has a love for this water, the more eyes the better and maybe that will encourage the community to take better care of our waterways.”

Matheson said the tradition will forever be the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle as they both support and have love for the local rivers.

Actually, I said to the Mayor on his radio show, “Mayor, you have to share.” And he’s right that he had the original idea after the dozen downstream Florida counties met with the Valdosta City Council. However the county got involved, it’s good Valdosta and Lowndes County are participating in this paddle.

[Chairman, Mayor, City Manager on Deloach Ramp, 11:13:14, 30.8380884, -83.3701976]
Chairman, Mayor, City Manager on Deloach Ramp, 11:13:14, 30.8380884, -83.3701976

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!