Monthly Archives: November 2023

Winner of the VIBE Sea Ghost 130 kayak raffle 2023-11-27

Update 2023-12-13: Raffle kayak delivered to winner Janet Martin 2023-12-12.

Monday at Banks Lake before we paddled, we drew the winner of the Vibe Sea Ghost 130. It retails for $1,300, but was used only once by Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson before he gave it to WWALS. It comes with paddle, seat, and rudder.

We raffled it for $10 donation per ticket.

[Kayak, drawing, the winner]
Kayak, drawing, the winner

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman had put all the tickets in a box, yes, including the online tickets, which she transcribed onto paper tickets.

WWALS Board Member Kimberly Godden Tanner took the tickets out of envelopes for the places they were donated, such as Alapaha Station Celebration, Florida Folk Festival, various outings, and the WWALS River Revue, plus two more got tickets minutes before. Continue reading

Logging Railroads in the Okefenokee Swamp 1889-1942

Here are maps of logging railroads in the Okefenokee Swamp, and detailed maps of railroads and the town on Billys Island.

[Logging Railroads and Billys Island, Okefenokee Swamp]
Logging Railroads and Billys Island, Okefenokee Swamp

The Billys Island maps are by Chris Trowell or revised from his maps. As the redrawn map says, Billys Island is 1.8 miles from Stephen C. Foster State Park, upstream on the Suwannee River and its East Fork. As you can see by the map, it was quite a bustling place. Until the trees ran out.

I don’t know who drew the map of all the railroads in the Swamp, but I would guess Chris Trowell may have had something to do with it. This is presumably the same C.T. Trowell frequently cited in the documents for Floyds Island in the National Register of Historic Places, and his paper included, “Seeking a Sanctuary: A Chronicle of Efforts to Preserve the Okefenokee,” C.T. Trowell, 1998.

These railroads did not all exist at the same time, since they pulled up tracks from one place to go another place.

These maps came from a ranger at Stephen C. Foster State Park, back in 2021. Naturally, right now I cannot find the email he sent with the maps. Continue reading

Clean Rivers 2023-11-23

Update 2023-12-02: Mostly clean rivers 2023-11-30.

Most of our testers were away for the holiday, but those who tested got clean results for the Alapaha and Santa Fe Rivers. Plus the usual bad results for Sugar Creek last Sunday.

There was some rain in the past few days, but not much. Some rain is predicted for Sunday, but it it’s like the last predicted rain, it won’t amount to much, either.

In the last week, no new sewage spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida.

So happy swimming, boating, and fishing this weekend!

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-11-23]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-11-23

Kim Tanner tested the Alapaha River Monday at Lakeland Boat Ramp and Naylor Park Beach and got very clean results.

Joanne Tremblay tested the Santa Fe River Wednesday. For the US 27 bridge she wrote, “Looking good. The river was swirling gently with leaves. There is a midriver spring right above the ramp. There is also a riparian neighborhood that hugs the high banks along this stretch and a couple of shoals that aerate and solarize the waters.”

For US 41 she wrote, “This location is a few miles down from River Rise. Here the river is mostly surrounded by protected State Park with very few residences tucked in.”

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall tested Sugar Creek last Sunday and got too-high results, “Still yucky.”

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman delivered testing supplies to several testers.

If you want to get trained to be a WWALS water quality tester, please fill out the form:

The most recent Valdosta results we have are for Wednesday and Friday upstream, which were good. As usual, Valdosta’s last week upstream results corroborated what WWALS saw Thursday last week.

As previously noted, Valdosta’s last downstream tests were September 1, 2023. Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Beaver Moon Paddle 2023-11-27

Update 2023-12-26: Pictures: Banks Lake Full Beaver Moon Paddle 2023-11-27.

Join us for a leisurely Sunset and Full Moon Paddle on our watery living room, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Before we paddle, we will be drawing the winning raffle ticket for a Vibe Sea Ghost 130 kayak; you can still get raffle tickets.

When: Gather 4:30 PM, launch 5 PM, moonrise 5:40 PM, sunset 5:31 PM, end 6:40 PM, Monday, November 27, 2023

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County, on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT).

GPS: 31.034824, -83.096725

[Full moon rising over Holly Jones and family in the raffle kayak they won 2022-12-07]
Full moon rising over Holly Jones and family in the raffle kayak they won 2022-12-07

Continue reading

Okefenokee season, fall 2023

Apparently it’s Okefenokee season this fall, with resolutions for the Swamp and against the proposed strip mine, when Clinch County also reserved cash match for a Dark Sky Observatory, one of three natural resources economy projects around the Swamp. There is some movement on listing the Refuge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site including an art auction dinner in Brunswick. Charlton, Ware, and Clinch Counties held their first-ever collaboration, Okefenokee Gateway Getaway. There were dinners and paddles at all three entrances to the Swamp, including a WWALS paddle to camp at Floyds Island, the most remote spot in Georgia, with people from Miami, Alabama, South Carolina, and Atlanta, and a Georgia Water Coalition panel attended by Suwannee Riverkeeper.

You can still help stop the proposed titanium dioxide strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp:

[Collage of Okefenokee season, fall 2023]
Collage of Okefenokee season, fall 2023

In August, Echols and Clinch Counties passed resolutions for the Swamp and against the proposed titanium dioxide mine. When DeKalb County passed a resolution in November, it mentioned those, and a previous resolution by Waycross and Ware County. Continue reading

Vegetative Buffer Encroachment on Mud Swamp Creek for Valdosta Old Clyattville Road Widening 2023-10-19

Valdosta’s widening of Old Clyattville Road will affect a drainage ditch out of the SAFT America battery plant on Gil Harbin Road, which is currently hiring. The drainage ditch goes into Mud Swamp Creek, which joins Grand Bay Creek east of Valdosta to form the Alaphoochee River, which flows into the Alapaha River just across the GA-FL line, and then into the Suwannee River.

The project will require mitigation bank credits, probably from the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank, half of which was previously denied deannexation by the Valdosta Mayor and Council. The city hired TTL to do most of the application work, and apparently also Lovell Engineering Associates to plan the actual road work.

WWALS did not file any comments with GA-EPD, because we did not find any irregularities in the actual project. We did find some interesting tidbits in the application, such as a historic cemetery, railroad, and archaeological sites.

[Collage of Valdosta application for Vegetative Buffer Encroachment on Mud Swamp Creek for Clyattville Road Widening]
Collage of Valdosta application for Vegetative Buffer Encroachment on Mud Swamp Creek for Clyattville Road Widening

Also, the USGS Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) boundary for the Upper Mud Swamp (HUC 031103021001) is incorrect. We may contact USGS about that. Continue reading

Floyds Island 1838, Hebard Cabin 1925, Okefenokee Swamp

Answers to some popular questions about Floyds Island, up the Middle Fork of the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can help stop a proposed strip mine near the Swamp:

[Collage, Floyds Island]
Collage, Floyds Island

Who was Floyds Island named for?

The Okefenokee was a Creek hunting ground in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Briefly in 1836 and for most of 1838 theSecond Seminole War in Florida extended into the Okefenokee. Roads and forts were built around the perimeter of the swamp, and Georgia militia and U.S. army troops patrolled intensively. They burned down a Seminole village on an island that they subsequently renamed Floyds Island, for Charles Rinaldo Floyd. In response to this violence, the Seminole began to leave the swamp in 1838, but skirmishes continued to occur along the Georgia-Florida boundary as late as 1840.

C.T. Trowell, New Georgia Encyclopedia, Originally published Sep 20, 2002, Last edited Feb 23, 2022, Human History of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Who was Charles Rinaldo Floyd? Continue reading

Pictures: WWALS at Brooks County Skillet Fest 2023-10-21

It was a good time at the WWALS booth at the Brooks County Skillet Festival.

[Collage @ Brooks County Skillet Festival 2023-10-21]
Collage @ Brooks County Skillet Festival 2023-10-21

Thanks to Jan Powell, Kimberly Tanner, and her Brazilian exchange student for assisting WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the WWALS booth.

Quitman is on Okapilco Creek, which runs into the Withlacoochee River. The Withlacoochee, and, upstream, the Little River form the east border of Brooks County with Lowndes County.

There are more pictures below.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see Continue reading

Liquefied natural gas issue on Brightline railroad –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2023-11-12

Cecile Scofield got this op-ed into TCPalm, Sunday, November 13, 2023, “Liquefied natural gas issue on Brightline railroad”

According to a recent article, Brightline (Fortress Investment Group) is looking for land adjacent to existing tracks away from the St. Lucie River bridge in downtown Stuart. The property must also be able to support other development opportunities for Brightline.

In 2014, Florida East Coast Railway discussed moving liquefied natural gas on its network with the Federal Railroad Administration. On Sept. 24, 2014, AAF Holdings LLC filed an application with the Florida Development Finance Corp., for $1.75 billion in private activity bond financing for “All Aboard Florida.” About $440 million would be used to construct new track and rail between Cocoa and Orlando, the gateway to Tampa and the Panama Canal.

[Brightline Route to Disney World and Tampa Bay]
Brightline Route to Disney World and Tampa Bay

In November 2014, James Hertwig, former CEO of FECR, said he thought the laws would change where double-stacked 10,000-gallon liquefied natural gas international standards organization containers would run from South Florida to Jacksonville, creating a virtual rolling natural gas pipeline. However, the single-tracked St. Lucie River railroad bridge presented a problem. Constructing an LNG production facility in Stuart or north of Stuart could be a solution.

Continue reading

Pictures: Arriving Floyd’s Island, Okefenokee Swamp 2023-11-04

Update 2023-11-19: Floyds Island 1838, Hebard Cabin 1925, Okefenokee Swamp 1925-01-01.

Alligators and pitcher plants on the Suwannee River to Floyds Island, logging railroad, Indian mound, and tents there, and somebody fell over in a chair.

[IG: Collage, SCFSP to Floyds Island, Okefenokee Swamp, 2023-11-04]
IG: Collage, SCFSP to Floyds Island, Okefenokee Swamp, 2023-11-04

People came to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from as far away as Miami, Alabama, South Carolina, Savannah, and Atlanta, as well as from Williston, White Springs, Pearson, Douglas, and Hahira.

Thanks to Shirley Kokidko for organizing, and for Randy Madison for leading when Shirley could not go. Continue reading