Press Releases

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WWALS Press Releases

  • 2024-04-01: Sponsors, WWALS River Revue,

    Hahira, Georgia, May 1, 2024 — WWALS thanks our sponsors for the WWALS River Revue fundraising dinner, including the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest: Wild Green Future, Georgia Power, and Brooksco Dairy.

    WWALS President Sara Jay Jones said, “We thank all our sponsors so far, and we look forward to many more! Many people and businesses will be hearing from me and others in the near future.”

    [WWALS River Revue sponsors so far]

    Our first Stream $1,000 sponsor is Brooksco Dairy, back again from last year.

    Our first Big Shoals $5,000 sponsor is Georgia Power, which contributed $1,000 to keep tickets free to the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, and which has granted funds to the WWALS water quality testing program for four years running.

    Our first Headwaters $10,000 sponsor is Wild Green Future, who contacted us from Live Oak, Florida, and whose grant paid for an 86lb thrust trolling motor, two Lithium-iron-phosphate 100Ah batteries, a 9.9hp Mercury outboard, and a 25hp Yamaha outboard, as well as a Husqvarna 24-inch chainsaw, and some related equipment. We have used all these things on recent chainsaw cleanups to remove deadfalls from the Withlacoochee River, and with the WWALS jon boat as a safety vessel for the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle.

    M.C. Chuck Roberts said, “I invite everyone to join us for the WWALS River Revue, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, 5-8 PM, Saturday, September 7, 2024. It’s an indoor fundraising dinner to benefit WWALS Watershed Coalition, with an evening of food, drink, and entertainment.”

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “The Gala will include the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. Musicians, don’t wait until the deadline to send in your song. Also, we could use more volunteers to help at the show and committee members to help plan it.”

    Here’s the song submission form:
    https://forms.gle/ett6ne6DxMc8Ln897

    WWALS Board member and organizing committee member Scotti Jay Jones said, “Your sponsorship or ticket helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.” Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/songwriting2024

  • 2024-03-29: Send in your song for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2024-03-29.

    Hahira, Georgia, March 29, 2024 — On April First, really, no fooling, submissions are open for the 2024 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    WWALS President Sara Jay Jones said, “Musicians, don’t wait until the deadline to send in your song. Also, we could use more volunteers to help at the show and committee members to help plan it.”

    The Seventh Annual Finals will be held at the WWALS River Revue, an indoor fundraising dinner to benefit WWALS Watershed Coalition, with an evening of food, drink, and entertainment. That’s 5-8 PM, Saturday, September 7, 2024, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Your ticket or sponsorship helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.”

    [Song Submissions Open, No Fooling, April 1, 2024, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Finals: Turner Arts Center, Valdosta, GA]
    Song Submissions Open, No Fooling, April 1, 2024, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Finals: Turner Arts Center, Valdosta, GA

    There will be plaques for each best song per genre, prizes of $50 each for best song sent in from inside and from outside the Suwannee River Basin, and a $300 First Prize. All finalists get videos posted on YouTube, and a one year WWALS membership.

    Here’s the entry form:
    https://forms.gle/ett6ne6DxMc8Ln897

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/songwriting2024

  • 2024-03-19: Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine –Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21.

    Hahira, GA, March 19, 2024

    Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, will give the third WWALS Webinar, about the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers: why we protect it and the proposed strip mine that threatens it, as well as a recent Conservation Fund study.

    This webinar will be by zoom, noon-1 PM, Thursday, March 21, 2024.

    [Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine --Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar]
    Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine –Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar

    “WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper continue our work to protect the Okefenokee Swamp, 85% of which is in the Suwannee River Basin. We conduct outings for direct exposure, we have gotten city council and county commission resolutions passed, and we talk to Georgia state legislators, while expanding the issue into Florida. But the mine site is in the St. Marys River watershed. So I am very pleased that, since she’s been St. Marys Riverkeeper, Emily Floore has taken a strong position and action to support the Swamp and to oppose the mine,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    Register in advance with zoom for this meeting:
    https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrdOmtqzkpGt3UGEP7SDw6JJaAVAPt9d30

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting….

  • 2024-03-16: Atkinson County, GA, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the strip mine 2024-03-14,

    Thanks to the Atkinson County Commissioners for passing this resolution unanimously Thursday evening. We will get a signed copy soon.

    [Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine]
    Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine

    Shirley Kokidko, who lives in Pearson, the county seat, said a few words. I gave the shortest speech ever, “We could speak for half an hour. But if the Okefenokee Swamp isn’t worth protecting, what is?”

    As they voted, they said things such as, “this would affect our fishing.”

    A Commissioner sought me out in the parking lot afterwards to remark, “This is our heritage, our way of life.”

    After Berrien County, plus the city of Nashville, this is the second county on the Alapaha River to pass such a resolution.

    It is the fifth such resolution in Georgia state Senate District 8, after Valdosta, Ware County and Waycross, Clinch, and Echols Counties. Maybe Senator Russ Goodman will be interested in that.

    Berrien County and the city of Nashville are in District 13, of Senator Carden Summers.

    In Georgia state House districts, Berrien County and the city of Nashville are in District 170, Penny Houston.

    Atkinson County is in District 176, James Burchett, as is part of Ware County and Waycross.

    Echols, Clinch, and part of Ware Counties, as well as part of Waycross, are in District 174, John Corbett.

    Valdosta is in District 177, Dexter Sharper, with bits in District 175, John LaHood.

    Plus….

  • 2024-02-29: County opposition to the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp has crossed the GA-FL line.

    County opposition to the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp has crossed the GA-FL line.

    The Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Florida, on February 20, 2024, passed this resolution. A signed copy is forthcoming.

    [Hamilton County, Florida, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the strip mine 2024-02-20]
    Hamilton County, Florida, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the strip mine 2024-02-20

    That makes four counties on the Suwannee River downstream of the Okefenokee Swamp: Ware, Clinch, Echols, and Hamilton.

    Plus many other counties and cities.
    https://wwals.net/2021/12/10/resolutions-for-okefenokee-swamp-against-strip-mine-suwannee-riverkeeper-sgrc-2021-12-09/

  • 2024-02-12: Paddles through Time: Historical and Archaeological Sites of the Withlacoochee River of South Georgia and North Florida –Tom Baird, WWALS Webinar 2024-02-15.

    Tom Baird, archaeologist of Tallahassee, Florida, will give the second WWALS Webinar about the history and archaeology of the Withlacoochee River in Georgia and Florida.

    “Tom will talk about arrowpoints, fish weirs, spears, atlatls, mounds, missions, wood mills, and ghost towns, as well as current threats to the Withlacoochee River and archaeological opportunities,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    [Paddles Through Time by Tom Baird]
    Paddles Through Time by Tom Baird

    Register in advance for this meeting:
    https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErfuuoqTgtGtecqMIzKE5VCGr8wh_6aKjH

    Tom Baird is an education consltant who has previously worked as a high school teacher, commmunity college instructor (oceanography and microbiology), director of a science and environmental center, supervisor of science (K-12) in Pasco Co., FL, Director of Science (PreK-12) in Pinellas Co. FL, Principal of a math/science/technology magnet high school in Pinellas Co., FL, and director of a National Science Foundation program.

  • 2024-01-29: Fifth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2024-03-02,

    Valdosta, Georgia, January 29, 2024 — Join us on March 2nd for a leisurely paddle with the Mayor of Valdosta and the Chairman of Lowndes County on the Withlacoochee River, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, and along the site of future Troupville River Camp and Nature Park.

    “The annual paddle event provides a unique opportunity for residents to come together and explore the natural beauties of Lowndes County, immersing themselves in the serenity of our waterways,” said Bill Slaughter, Chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. “We encourage residents of all ages to come out and join us for a fun morning.”

    “Together, we will showcase the natural beauty of our blackwater rivers and continue to work towards finding the most cost-effective solutions to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash that is littering our creeks and rivers,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “With this event, we aim to empower our community and inspire everyone to take action towards protecting our precious waterways. It will take all of us working together to make a difference, and we are excited to lead the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

    “Welcome to this one of our many paddles. All elected officials present, from both Florida and Georgia, get in free, and will have three minutes each to speak at the put-in. You can paddle up to them and ask questions,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA.”

    [FB: Paddlers 2023-03-04]
    Paddlers 2023-03-04; Photo: John S. Quarterman

    On a new route this year, we’ll go seven miles in four hours, with an early takeout.

    Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, March 2, 2024 to Langdale Park, drop off your boats, and drive to Troupville Boat Ramp. Shuttle from there back to Langdale Park.

    One 15-seat van provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We love supporting this event and giving back to our community! This is just another event that shows how good the Mayor and the Commission Chairman are always working together to help this community,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. This will be an outside event, but we will recommend those riders taking advantage of the shuttle service to please wear a mask.

    We’ll paddle three miles from Langdale Park Boat Ramp through past Three Mile Branch to Sugar Creek with early takeout. On this all-wooded route it is hard to believe you are next to the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin. There are no houses, but you may see creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, birds, and turtles. Valdosta is getting much better at keeping sewage out of the creeks and rivers.

    “I’m happy to lead this paddle again,” said Phil Hubbard.

    Tickets: This outing is $30 (thirty dollars) per boat as a fundraiser for WWALS. You can pay the $30 at the outing, or online:
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mayor-and-chairmans-paddle-langdale-park-to-troupville-2024-tickets-799890352577

    For the rest, see https://wwals.net/?p=64027.

  • 2024-01-09: WWALS River Revue, September 7, 2024,

    Hahira, Georgia, January 9, 2024 — Save the date for the second annual WWALS River Revue. This indoor sit-down fundraising dinner will be held 5-9 PM, Saturday, September 7, 2024, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia. Tickets are $100 a person. It will include the 7th Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, with 2023’s First Prize winner Jane Fallon as 2024 Headliner. Chuck Roberts returns as Master of Ceremonies.

    Follow this link for sponsorship opportunities and more:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/songwriting2024/

    [IG: WWALS River Revue, September 7, 2024, and Jane Fallon winning First Prize, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023, as M.C. Chuck Roberts looks on]
    WWALS River Revue, September 7, 2024, and Jane Fallon winning First Prize, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023, as M.C. Chuck Roberts looks on
    Jane Fallon Returns as Headliner for WWALS River Revue 2024 and Chuck Roberts Returns as M.C.

    WWALS President Sara Jay Jones said, “Get your song ready about the Suwannee or another river, creek, spring, sink, swamp, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin. We will open song submissions in the Spring.”

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Your ticket or sponsorship helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.”

    Organizing Committee member Arinda Kennedy said, “Maybe you’d like to join the organizing committee!”

  • 2023-12-26: Fannie Gibbs Begins WWALS Webinars 2024-01-11,

    Hahira, Georgia, December 26, 2023 — WWALS Webinars is a new monthly series of lunchtime talks via zoom about topics related to the Suwannee River Basin.

    On Thursday, January 11, 2024, from noon to 1PM, we are starting with Fannie Marie Jackson Gibbs of Brooks County, Georgia, long active in issues near the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers, especially involving African-American family history. She will talk about the ongoing sewage problems in Quitman, the annual Juneteenth celebrations she organizes at Reed Bingham State Park Lake where WWALS brings boats, family history, and anything else she wants to discuss.

    [Fannie Gibbs in a boat at Reed Bingham State Park, Junteenth 2020]
    Fannie Gibbs in a boat at Reed Bingham State Park, Junteenth 2020

    “We thank Fannie Gibbs for speaking at WWALS River Revue 2023 in September, and we welcome her back to speak longer in this first WWALS Webinar,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones.

    “I’m honored to have worked with Fannie for many years, and I hope you will all zoom in to hear what she has to say,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

  • 2023-12-01: South Georgia Naturalist Chris Adams to speak at WWALS Griffis Fish Campout and Okefenokee Swamp and Suwannee River Paddle 2023-11-08

    Naturalist C.B. Adams will speak Friday evening, December 8, 2023, at Campfire Cooking at Griffis Fish Camp and Suwannee River paddle. He will bring props and artifacts. He said, “I can guarantee you it will be a jam up program.”

    [C.B. Adams, Griffis Fish Camp, Campfire Cooking, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp]
    C.B. Adams, Griffis Fish Camp, Campfire Cooking, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp

    Chris “Turtleman” Adams is a South Georgia Naturalist, Historian, Farmer, & Folklorist. He has worked with Georgia Native Cattle Company and Okefenokee Adventures, and he runs the Wiregrass Ecological and Cultural Project, bringing awareness to the heart of the Deep South and showcasing its natural & cultural communities.

    Join us to camp overnight Friday at Griffis Fish Camp. Campers arrive starting at 4 PM Friday. Chris will start talking around sunset at 5:29 PM.

    Mastermind of this event, Shirley Kokidko, said, “Chris will have an hour before dark to show the artifacts but we’ll also have a fire so he can talk as long as he wants.”

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “You heard Chris briefly at the WWALS River Revue in September. Next Friday you can hear him at length.”

    On Saturday, paddle 9.5 miles down the Suwannee River from SCFSP through the Narrows and the Sill to Griffis, to camp overnight again.

    Each night, build a campfire and start cooking.

  • 2023-11-09: GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta for One Mile Branch fish kill and sewage spills 2023-09-15,

    That One Mile Branch fish kill back on September 23, 2022, was not just from a fuel spill by VSU.

    The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) found contamination and dead fish upstream of that alleged fuel spill. GA-EPD also cited numerous other Valdosta sewage spills, not only into One Mile Branch, but also into Hightower Creek (also draining through Sugar Creek into the Withlacoochee River), and spillsinto Knights Creek (which drains into Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alaphoochee River, and the Alapaha River).

    Result? A new Consent Order on Valdosta, including a hefty fine as one of five conditions, the rest of which have sixty (60) day deadlines.

    [$56,139.30 fine on Valdosta for One Mile Branch Fish Kill and other spills --GA-EPD 2023-09-15]
    $56,139.30 fine on Valdosta for One Mile Branch Fish Kill and other spills –GA-EPD 2023-09-15

    $56,139.30 may not sound like much as a fine, but it is huge compared to typical GA-EPD fines of maybe $10,000, and it is almost half of the $122,000 of the 2020 Consent Order after the huge December 2019 Valdosta sewage spill.

    Please note that the Valdosta Utilities Department is under new management since all this happened.

    Acting Utilities Manager Jason Barnes now has the task of cleaning up the physical and regulatory mess, even though he had nothing to do with causing it.

    The City’s explanation for the One Mile Branch fish kill at the time did not pass muster with GA-EPD: …

  • 2023-09-26: Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023-09-22,

    Hahira, GA, September 25, 2023 — Hahira, Georgia, September 25, 2023 — Ten musicians wrote songs and seven sang them, about the delights of the waters of the Suwannee River Basin and the need to preserve them against numerous threats. Jane Fallon came all the way from Dunedin, Florida, to the Turner Arts Center in Valdosta, Georgia, to sing a story about legendary Sun Daughters reflecting on a proposed mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee River. The three judges marked her high on storytelling and presenting the value of the waters, on originality of lyrics and music, and on performance, with extra credit for naming waterways. She took home First Prize in the Sixth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    [Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper; Cindy Bear and Franc Robert, Best Folk; Jane Fallon, First Prize; Bacon James, Best from Outside; Kyle Bird Chamberlain and David Rodock, tie for Best from Inside; Chamberlain, Best Blues; Rodock, Best AmeriKinda; Keven Stephenson, Best Country --Chuck Roberts]
    Suwannee Riverkeeper with the Winners: Cindy Bear and Franc Robert, Best Folk; Jane Fallon, First Prize; Bacon James, Best from Outside; Kyle Bird Chamberlain and David Rodock, tie for Best from Inside; Chamberlain, Best Blues; Rodock, Best AmeriKinda; Kevin Stephenson, Best Country; and Robert Thatcher (not pictured). Photo: Chuck Roberts

    Jane Fallon said, “Thank you for the honor in recognizing my song ‘Chant For The Okefenokee’ in your contest. It is always a special feeling to sing a song for an audience that truly understands its meaning. Thank you also for the work you do in trying to preserve the waterways. It is so important.”

    Here is the first half of her lyrics:….

  • 2023-09-06: WWALS River Revue on WKUB 105.1 FM 2023-09-06.

    Thanks to Bryan Blount for inviting me on WKUB 105.1 FM, from Pierce County, Georgia, to talk about the WWALS River Revue, a sit-down-dinner fundraiser, with three speakers, silent auction, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, all 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia..

    Tickets are available online only here:
    https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsriverrevue2023/

    [WWALS River Revue and WKUB 105.1 FM]
    WWALS River Revue and WKUB 105.1 FM

    Bryan says he’s broadcasting on low power due to Hurricane Idalia, so maybe a few more people will hear the interview this way.

  • 2023-08-16: Ten Songwriters in Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue

    Hahira, GA, August 16, 2023 — All ten songs were so good we couldn’t decide, so we accepted them all as finalists. We’ve got six songwriters from Florida, three from Georgia, and one from Tennessee. Genres range from easy-listening pop to a mining protest chant. Come hear them at the Finals of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 6-10 PM, Friday evening, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts, Valdosta, Georgia. Also enjoy a catered sit-down meal, speakers, a silent auction, and a kayak raffle.

    [WWALS River Revue Flyer 2023]
    WWALS River Revue Flyer 2023
    PDF

    “Traditionally we extend the song submission deadline twice, but we didn’t need to this time,” said longtime organizing committee member and new WWALS Board member Scotti Jay.

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:

    https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsriverrevue2023/

    WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said, “Your ticket or sponsorship helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and the Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.”

    “We’re gonna rock the autumn equinox,” said organizing committee chair and WWALS President Sara Jay Jones. “Thanks to our sponsors so far: Georgia Power, Brooksco Dairy, Landis International, Michael Smith, Clyde Butcher Gallery, Great Dame, Georgia Beer Company, Azalea City Woman’s Club, Agri-Supply, Olympia Bend Shooting Range, and Jack’s Chophouse. You, too, can be a sponsor!”

    These are the ten songwriter finalists, in alphabetical order, with a bit they wrote about themselves:…

  • 2023-08-13: PSA and flyer for WWALS River Revue: come hear speakers and ten finalists in the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,
  • 2023-08-03: Song submission extension and Headliner for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue,

    Hahira, GA, August 3, 2023 — We’ve got some songs, but we want more, so the organizing committee has extended the deadline another week for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, to August 9, 2023. And we have a headliner, Katherine Ball.

    [Trimmed Songwriting Flyer 2023]
    PDF

    “Submissions can be songs about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest),” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “For those selected as finalists, in September the three judges will award the First Prize of $300, with $50 prizes for Best Song from Within the Suwannee River Basin and Best Song from Without, as well as plaques for Best Song in each genre.”

    Here’s the entry form:
    https://forms.gle/ZPbfnnLj5ruum5xk6

    “Thanks to Katie for playing for us all,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones. “We’re gonna rock the Autumn Equinox.”

    Katherine Ball is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and elemental artist bringing serenity and surrealism to the stage.

  • 2023-07-27: Judges announced for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue,

    Hahira, GA, July 27, 2023 — The judges for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in the WWALS River Revue are Joe Smothers from Lowndes County, Georgia, Anna Stange from Madison County, Florida, and Tony Buzella from Columbia County, Florida. Joe and Tony have judged before; Anna is new to this Contest.

    “I’m very pleased to welcome Joe Smothers and Tony Buzella back again, plus new judge Anna Stange,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones. “We’re gonna rock the Autumn Equinox.”

    [Songwriting Flyer 2023]
    Songwriting Flyer 2023
    PDF

    Judge Joe Smothers is from Reidsville, NC, lives in Valdosta, and often plays The Salty Snapper, with a second home in Cortez, FL, with his wife Murphy. Joe’s mom Betty….

  • 2023-07-20: Juneteenth and River Ferries: Speakers in WWALS River Revue 2023-07-20.

    Hahira, GA, July 20, 2023 — We have two excellent speakers for the first-ever WWALS River Revue. Fannie Gibbs will talk about how her extensive family history research ties into Juneteenth and our rivers and creeks. Ken Sulak will talk about “Paddling into the Past: Finding Florida in the 1800s, Trails from Georgia, and Early Border Ferries.”

    [2023-07-20--WWALS-River-Revue-0001-crop]
    PDF

    “We’ve worked with Fannie and Ken for years, and we hope you’ll like what they have to say as much as we do,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    This first-ever WWALS gala is an indoor fundraising gala, with catered sit-down meal, speakers, silent auction, and kayak raffle. It will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, how to contribute to the silent auction, and more:

    https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsriverrevue2023/

    ….

  • 2023-07-11: Chuck Roberts returns as M.C. for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest plus WWALS River Revue,

    Hahira, GA, July 10, 2023 — Chuck Roberts returns as M.C. for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, and this time for the entire first-ever WWALS River Revue.

    [MC Chuck Roberts, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023]
    MC Chuck Roberts, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023

    Master of Ceremonies Chuck Roberts says about himself, “I grew up in Quitman and Valdosta, raised by two loving musical parents to enjoy and appreciate ALL kinds of music, because the arts enrich the mind and nourish the soul. Presbyterian Church Minister of Music for over 30 years. St. James Episcopal Soloist for over 25 years. Sang with Botie Chitty and The Singing Americans for 10 years. Recently sang two solos with Ed Barr Orchestra for Turner Center Arts AMERICAN SOUNDTRACK VOL. IX. I have the sweetest wife in the world, Sheila and three beautiful and talented daughters and two talented sons, and a new Golden Doodle puppy.”

    “I’m very pleased to welcome Chuck Roberts back again as M.C.,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones.

    This first-ever WWALS gala is an indoor fundraising gala, with catered sit-down meal, speakers, silent auction, and kayak raffle. It will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:

    https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsriverrevue2023/

    “Submissions can be songs about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest),” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    Here’s the entry form:

    https://forms.gle/ZPbfnnLj5ruum5xk6

    “Music is really important to our region, as are our rivers, and this event combines the two for our community,” said Scotti Jay, longtime organizing committee member and new WWALS board member.

  • 2023-06-01: WWALS Wins Rivers Alive Adopt-A-Stream cleanup award second year running,

    Thanks to Georgia Rivers Alive for giving WWALS the 2022 Adopt-A-Stream Award for cleanups. This is the second year running WWALS has won this award.

    [Nankin Boat Ramp 2022-12-17, Statenville Boat Ramp 2023-01-07, Adopt-A-Stream Award 2023-04-27]
    Adopt-A-Stream Award 2023-04-27
    Photos: WWALS, at Nankin Boat Ramp 2022-12-17 and Statenville Boat Ramp 2023-01-07

  • 2023-05-09: WWALS River Revue 2023-09-22,

    Hahira, Georgia, May 9, 2023 — WWALS is incorporating the 6th Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest into the inaugural WWALS River Revue. This indoor fundraising dinner to benefit WWALS Watershed Coalition will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:
    https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsriverrevue2023/

    [WWALS River Revue]
    WWALS River Revue

    WWALS Development Director Veronica Oakler said, “Raise a glass to clean water and support our work to protect the 10,000 square mile Suwannee River basin with an evening of food, drink, and entertainment. We’ll have speakers, songs, and a silent auction.”

    WWALS President Sara Jay Jones said, “Musicians, song submissions are open! Don’t wait until the deadline to send in your song. Here’s the entry form:”

    https://forms.gle/9P7GCKDyF2hvVWGr6

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said…

  • 2023-04-20: BIG Little River Paddle Event, Red Roberts Landing, 2023-04-29:

    Hahira, GA, April 20, 2023 — WWALS charter board member Bret Wagenhorst will guide a free tour of the Little River from Red Roberts Landing to Reed Bingham State Park Lake, at 8 AM to 3 PM, Saturday, April 29, 2023.

    Paddlers will learn about natural history of the river, from flora and fauna to aspects of rivers and black water: oxbows, tannic acid, river foam, hairpin curves and breakthroughs, sloughs, silt deposition sides, etc. If more than 8 boats sign up, we will add another tour guide.

    [Bret Wagenhorst, paddlers on the Little River, 2022]
    Bret Wagenhorst, paddlers on the Little River, 2022

    The tour will….

  • 2023-03-30: WWALS invites Valdosta city officials to help clean Valdosta trash out of Withlacoochee River,

    Hahira, GA, March 30, 2023 — Today WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) invited Valdosta city officials to come along on the third cleanup WWALS has scheduled to collect trash from Valdosta that is floating in the Withlacoochee River or still on the riverbank after previous high water.

    All Valdosta city officials are invited, especially Mayor, Council, City Manager, City Engineer, Stormwater Manager, and, as special guests, the City Marshalls. If you don’t have a boat, we will supply one.

    [Cleanup at floating trash jam, banners at start 2022-12-17]
    Cleanup at floating trash jam, banners at start 2022-12-17

    “We know most of this trash came from Valdosta, because it has brand names like Michael’s Deli, which only ever existed in Valdosta, plus many others still there, such as Zacadoo’s,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    This cleanup will be Saturday, April 8, 2023. Come at 9AM to Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, which is at the end of Knights Ferry Road in Lowndes County, southwest of Valdosta, Georgia, GPS 30.71205, -83.45554.

    This outing is free of charge because it is a cleanup.

    Cleanup materials will be provided, but if you’ve got a trash picker, bring it along. If you don’t have a boat, we can supply one: just let us know in advance.

    Quarterman added, “WWALS applauds Valdosta buying a bigger and better Watergoat trash trap for Sugar Creek, and for planning trash traps on Two Mile Branch. Those will help keep trash out of the river. And we look forward to Valdosta enforcing its ordinances to stop trash washing off parking lots into creeks. But there’s still plenty of legacy trash from Valdosta that needs to be cleaned up. Wildlife eat it and can not digest it.”

    For more information, see: https://wwals.net/?p=61563

    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.

    ===

  • 2023-01-30: Fourth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2023-03-04

    Valdosta, Georgia, January 30, 2021 — Join us March 4th for this annual eleven-mile river paddle, past the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s clean outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, with many creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, turtles, and maybe an alligator, down to Spook Bridge, so scary it has its own movie.

    “Come on down to where I used to fish as a child, and with my children!” said Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter. ”This event allows our residents to come out and explore the natural beauties of Lowndes County while enjoying our waterways.”

    “I am excited to partner once again with WWALS, plus this time with Lowndes County, to show people our fabulous blackwater rivers, only a few miles from City Hall and VSU,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James. “After the largest infrastructure project and single largest financial commitment in the history of our City was made toward a completely modern sewer system, we are now exploring the next phase toward beautifying our area waterways. Council and City staff will be addressing the most cost effective way to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash littering our streets that eventually makes into our creeks and rivers. The fight will begin with further education of our friends and neighbors combined with additional focus from City staff and volunteers. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

    “Welcome to this one of our many paddles,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

    [Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19]
    Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19

    Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, March 3, 2023, to Troupville Boat Ramp….

  • 2022-10-25: Winners, WWALS Boomerang paddle race 2022-10-22.

    Hahira, GA, October 25, 2022 — Home county favorite Kyle “Bird” Chamberlain, of Lake Park, Lowndes County, Georgia, won the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back. He won the $100 First Prize with a time of one hour, sixteen minutes, and 55 seconds to paddle three miles down and three miles back up for six miles total on the astonishingly clear Withlacoochee River.

    [River, Race, Prizes: WWALS Boomerang 2022-10-22]
    River, Race, Prizes: WWALS Boomerang 2022-10-22

    Bird said, “I wanna thank my sponsors State Line River Outfitters and Takis for believing in me… they gave me their undivided attention to make sure I had everything needed to win.”

  • 2022-10-18: Forever chemicals contaminate Withlacoochee River in Georgia and Florida 2022-10-18,

    Hahira, GA, October 18, 2022 — A first-of-its kind study by Waterkeeper Alliance found 83% of the waters tested across the country, and 100% of tested waterways in Georgia and Florida, were contaminated by dangerous PFAS chemicals.

    “The PFAS levels we found in the Withlacoochee River were lower than most sites in the U.S., but there should not have been any,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “WWALS is working ways to do more tests to narrow down likely sources and to see how rain events affect the results.”

    [Figure 11: bigger circles indicate more contamination]
    Figure 11: bigger circles indicate more contamination

    The good news: PFAS levels in four test sites on the Withlacoochee River were among the lowest in the study. Still, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals and their presence is cause for further investigation. For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so relevant and important.

    The bad news: no PFAS should be there at all, and these forever chemicals do not break down easily, and do tend to accumulate in bodies, including human bodies. The current lack of oversight puts the health and safety of communities and ecosystems across the nation at risk and results in costly cleanup and treatment activities to remove PFAS contamination after it has occurred. This data plainly demonstrates that Congress and EPA must act with urgency to control persistent PFAS contamination across the country.

    Here is a Waterkeeper Alliance action alert:
    https://waterkeeper.quorum.us/campaign/42950/

    The entire report is on the WWALS website.

    This groundbreaking new analysis of American waterways sounds the alarm….

  • 2022-10-14: One week: WWALS Boomerang paddle race 2022-10-22,

    One week from now, come paddle from Georgia into Florida and back, Saturday, October 22, 2022. It’s a fun fall event for the whole family, on the idyllic blackwater Withlacoochee River, with one small shoal to make it more interesting. Plus the fastest time gets faster every year.

    Today and tomorrow are the last days for the early bird ticket price. That and everything else Boomerang here:
    wwals.net/pictures/boomerang2022

    Thanks, new sponsors, Ace Electric and promoleaf, plus State Line River Outfitters will supply boats, along with VSU CORE. Thanks again to earlier sponsors, Packaging Corporation of America and Wisenbaker’s Garage. You or your organization can still sponsor to support the advocacy and activities of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.

    [Flyer]
    Flyer
    PDF

    Pick up trash before the race and get a Rivers Alive t-shirt. And there are Boomerang tumblers to all the paddlers, Suwannee Riverkeeper Suwannee Bass t-shirts to top winners, and $100 prize for First Place. Or just come for a fresh air morning on a fabulous river.

     -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

    You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
    https://wwals.net/donations/

  • 2022-09-25: High E. coli near One Mile Branch fish kill, and maybe fuel spill 2022-09-23.
  • 2022-09-23: One Mile Branch Fish Kill 2022-09-23.
  • 2022-09-15: Majority of Georgians Say Governor Should Immediately Protect the Okefenokee from Risky Mining 2022-09-15.

    Clergy, scientists, local governments, and elected officials have spoken out for protecting the Okefenokee swamp from risky mining proposals. And now a poll of Georgia voters shows that they are in good company.

    A clear majority (69 percent) of Georgians said that Georgia’s Governor should take “immediate action” to protect the Okefenokee swamp from risky mining proposals. “Across the state, from congregations in downtown Atlanta to the mountains to the coast, Georgians understand what’s at risk with proposals to mine near the Okefenokee,” said Codi Norred, Executive Director of GIPL. Last year GIPL released a letter signed by over 100 clergy asking local and federal leaders to protect the Okefenokee. “We have a spiritual imperative to protect this special place.”

    [Okefenokee Swamp and mine site]
    Okefenokee Swamp and mine site

    “Valdosta’s Mayor, Council, and Citizens are united in supporting any and all level of protection for the awesome beauty and resource that is the Okefenokee,” said Scott James Matheson, Mayor of Valdosta, which passed a resolution in 2021 urging protection of the Okefenokee.

    A majority of Georgians (53 percent) have been to the Okefenokee or plan to visit the National Wildlife Refuge in the future.

    “I personally don’t think a mine belongs near the pristine Okefenokee Swamp,” said WWALS Watershed Coalition member John Melton of Fargo. “My relatives have always been there. They were keepers of the swamp to manage the swamp for the benefits of the inhabitants, the ecosystems, and the animals that thrive there. We’ve had forest rangers in the family, we’ve been there with the fires, and when it’s been flooded. A mine is a danger to ruin the ecosystem that we have so long held in trust, we, the stewards of that land.”

  • 2022-09-14: One week left to comment on FERC LNG Rulemaking, deadline 2022-09-20,

    Here’s how you can comment or intervene on the FERC Rulemaking on small inland LNG export facilities:
    https://wwals.net/?p=59062#tocomment

    It’s easy to comment or intervene, so you can do it by the deadline of September 20, 2022. Public Citizen and Food and Water Watch have already intervened.

    We guess they are preparing comments to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resume the responsibility it abdicated in 2015, of environmental oversight of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities even when are not located where they can directly load LNG onto ocean-going tanker ships. Instead, those inland facilities send highly compressed and explosive LNG in trucks and train cars down public highways past schools, business, churches, and homes, through counties none of which have adequate emergency plans. And where-ever that gas eventually gets burned, in Europe, Caribbean, or Asia, it adds to the atmosphere more methane, a worse greenhouse gas than CO2, cooking the planet and raising sea levels.

    You are affected, even if you do not have an LNG export operation near you.

    [LNG tanker truck on I-75 turning onto I-10 for Jacksonville, LNG export map by WWALS]
    LNG tanker truck on I-75 turning onto I-10 for Jacksonville, LNG export map by WWALS

  • 2022-08-22: Winners, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022 2022-08-20.

    Hahira, Georgia, August 22, 2022 — Everyone had a good time, it was a successful fundraiser for WWALS, and here are the winners of the Fifth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    [Winners: Emmett Carlisle, Best Song from Outside; Tracy Horenbein, Best Americana; David Rodock, First Prize and Best Song from Inside; Kyle Chamberlain, Best Folk, Kevin Stephenson, Best Country]
    Winners: Emmett Carlisle, Best Song from Outside; Tracy Horenbein, Best Americana; David Rodock, First Prize and Best Song from Inside; Kyle Chamberlain, Best Folk, Kevin Stephenson, Best Country

    The winners were chosen by judges….

  • 2022-08-18: Judges, Headliner change, raffle kayak, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022-08-20,

    Hahira, Georgia, August 18, 2022 — We’re announcing our singing judges, and raffle tickets still available for the kayak Georgia Beer Co. donated. But we also have to say the pandemic is not over. A key member of one of our finalists headliners went to Atlanta to hear a famous band and came back with COVID-19.

    So our new second headliner is Dirty Bird and the Flu, from Valdosta, Georgia. “Funky-blues-soul-fusion born straight out of the South Georgia swamps and a charismatic front-man who catches comparisons of all the famous soul singers. No two shows are ever the same!”

    Our first headliner is Sweet William Billy Ennis from Palatka, Florida, our First Prize winner last year. “His fifty years of original songs cover multi genres and subjects including love, war & environment, Folk, Country & Blues. On August 26, 2018, he won the North Central Florida Blues Regional Solo Challenge and represented North Central Florida in the 2019 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. His songs of the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers won best in Folk Genre, 3rd, and 1st place in the 2019 Santa Fe River and 2021 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contests. His acoustic finger pick style weaves through songs of his life with a simple feel of storytelling and his deep resonant voice grabs the essence of his stories.”

    So come on down and support WWALS and fishable, drinkable, swimmable water by listening to music at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, Georgia, 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 20, 2022….

  • 2022-08-11: Five Finalists, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022-08-20,

    Hahira, Georgia, August 11, 2022: Five finalists have been selected to play at the Finals of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, coming from Tallahassee and Gainesville, Florida, and Lake Park, Valdosta, and Adel, Georgia.

    “I’m very excited to hear everyone sing!” said organizing committee chair Angela Duncan. ”It’s going to be a great event.”

    That’s 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 20, 2022, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, Georgia.

    [Songwriters Banner]
    Kyle Chamberlain of Lake Park, GA; David Rodock of Adel, GA; Emmett Carlisle of Gainesville, FL; Kevin Stephenson of Valdosta, GA; Tracy Horenbein from Tallahassee, FL

    Chuck Roberts will be the Master of Ceremonies….

    Here’s what the five songwriters want Chuck to tell the three judges and you the listeners about themselves and their song….

  • 2022-07-26: FERC Requests Comments on Rulemaking for small inland LNG export facilities,

    Hahira Georgia, July 26, 2022 — At the request of WWALS Watershed Coalition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened a process that could correct its mistakes of eight years ago when it disclaimed oversight of dangerous compressed methane export facilities as long as they did not load directly onto ocean-going ships. Those decisions produced environmental, safety, and economic problems. The request provides FERC with an opportunity to “revisit” and “revise” those old decisions, as FERC Chair Richard Glick has recommended.

    LNG tanker truck, Southbound I-75, 2018-03-26; Photo John S. Quarterman
    LNG tanker truck, Southbound I-75, 2018-03-26; Photo John S. Quarterman

    Anyone can comment and organizations can intervene on this new FERC docket for potential Rulemaking on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export. The deadline is September 20, 2022. That’s Docket RM22-21 on ferc.gov. Detailed instructions are below.

    Please also contact your state and national elected officials and ask them to ask FERC to resume its oversight.

    The Introduction of the Petition lays out the problem we want to get solved:

  • 2022-07-23: Another deadline, August 3, for song submissions to Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, August 20, 2022,

    Hahira, GA, July 23, 2022 — Here’s another opportunity for new songs about any river, creek, spring, sink, swamp, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary, including the Okefenokee Swamp and the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, and Suwannee Rivers, (but not the Santa Fe River; that has its own contest).

    Since we’re told some songwriters experienced technical difficulties, we’re re-opening song submissions yet again for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. “”We know there are musicians out there who share our love for nature – especially for our local waterways. Now is the chance to share that inspiration with everybody!” said Organizing Committee Chair and musician Angela Duncan.

    [Flyer]

    Here is the entry form: https://forms.gle/A2tpW1c7HJK3Tjuf7

    Songwriters, if that form does not work for you, email your submission to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org. And if that doesn’t work, email it to Committee Chair Angela Duncan: angelawong844@gmail.com. If you’re still having trouble, call 850-290-2350.

  • 2022-06-05: Army Corps resumes oversight; miners have to reapply for strip mine too near Okefenokee Swamp,

    Hahira, GA, June 5, 2022 — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has reversed its October 2022 abdication of oversight over the proposed titanium strip mine site too near the Okefenokee Swamp. That puts Twin Pines Minerals back to re-applying for a USACE permit, in addition to its permit applications to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD).

    [Okefenokee Swamp, Mine site, Ossoff, Connor]
    Okefenokee Swamp, Mine site, Ossoff, Connor

    This Friday, Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, issued a memorandum revoking the previous decision by USACE that said there were no Waters of the U.S. related to the proposed mine site. He said the Muscogee Creek Nation had not been properly consulted, despite their request for such consultation. Twin Pines Minerals must resubmit an application if they still want to mine there.

    “The Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource. It is a wildlife refuge that must be protected,” said U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, May 6, 2021. https://wwals.net/?p=55536

    “Thanks to…

  • 2022-06-02: Name That Bass Contest, Suwannee Riverkeeper 2022-06-02,

    Hahira, GA, June 2, 2022 — WWALS presents the “Name That Bass” contest, for the naming rights of our beautiful WWALS mascot. Well respected artist Hank Hershey has given reproduction rights to WWALS for his image of this magnificent fish, found in the waters of the Suwannee River Basin.

    [Name that Bass]
    Name that Bass

    The Contest kicks off June 2, 2022, and names will be accepted through July 2, 2022. The winner will be announced at the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on August 20th, 2022, at the Turner Art Center. The winner gets bragging rights for creativity and will be introduced at the Contest.

    The rules are simple:…

  • 2022-05-26: A new sponsor benefit at Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022-08-20,

    Hahira, Georgia, May 26, 2022 — Sponsors of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest get an additional perq, as well as entry tickets, and other benefits. Georgia Beer Company has donated a Vibe Yellowfin 120 kayak, worth more than a thousand dollars retail. WWALS draw raffle tickets for that kayak at the Contest, August 20, 2022, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA. Each $100 cash sponsor donation gets one of those raffle tickets.

    “Sponsoring the Contest is a great way to support the work of WWALS, from paddle outings, water trails, and water quality testing, to opposing trash, mines, and toll roads.” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, “But there’s a cap of 30 tickets, so get your sponsorships in early.”

    [Banner and raffle kayak]
    Banner and raffle kayak

    Follow this link for sponsorships and much more about the Contest, including song submission form, contest Rules, and, soon, entry tickets:
    wwals.net/pictures/2022-08-20–songwriting

  • 2022-05-03: Winners, BIG Little River Paddle Race 2022-04-30,

    Adel, GA, May 3, 2022 — Nineteen canoeists and kayakers set out on a beautiful blue-sky morning on Saturday, April 30, 2022, and one from far away won the BIG Little River Paddle Race.

    [Carl Fuller, First Prize Winner]
    Carl Fuller, First Prize Winner

    They paddled three miles from Red Roberts Landing to the Colquitt County boat ramp on Reed Bingham State Park Lake.

    [Five boats]
    Carl Fuller already in the lead.

    The overall winner was….

  • 2022-04-18: Song submissions open for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2022-04-18

    Hahira, Georgia, April 18, 2022 — With online voting for finalists, and judges selecting winners at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA, with $300 in cash to the First Prize winner, the Fifth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest seeks songs. Submissions open Monday, April 18, 2022.

    [Open song submissions 2022-04-18]
    Open song submissions 2022-04-18

    “Submissions can be songs about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest),” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    “It’s like a recital, except these songwriters come from everywhere, and it takes a committee to organize it,” said Angela Duncan of Azalea City Music Academy, and Chair of the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee.

    “There’s always room for a new song about the Suwannee River, or other rivers in the Basin or Estuary!” said 2018 winner and 2019 headliner Laura D’Alisera, now a member of the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee.

    We will have online voting on the songs submitted, which the Committee will take into account when selecting finalists.

    Finalists will play at the Contest, 7-10 PM, Saturday, August 20, 2022, and judges will judge at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA 31601. There will be food and a cash bar, as you watch and listen, and you can browse the artworks at the Turner Center. There will also be a kayak raffle and a silent auction, as well as a range of buttons, stickers, hats, notecards, signs, shirts, and posters for sale (this is a fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition).

    So you’ll know what you’re supporting, there will be talks about….

  • 2022-04-12: It’s back! The Tenth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race at Reed Bingham State Park 2022-04-30

    Adel, Georgia, April 12, 2022 — After pandemic and bad weather the previous two years, the BIG Little Paddle Race is back this year.

    You could win in any of a dozen categories, or up to $300 if you beat the previous winning record time. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway! On Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, it’s the ninth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race. There will be lunch and a kayak raffle. You can just paddle along this scenic three-mile stretch of tea-colored river on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail among cypress trees, turtles, birds, and yes, alligators. (Don’t pet the alligators and they aren’t likely to bother you.) This race also has fierce competitors, with one past winner finishing in barely more than half an hour.

    [Tandem female canoe, orange (BW)]
    Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of 2019 First female tandem kayak: Megan Robinson & Lily Robinson, of Tifton, GA.

  • 2022-04-05: Constitutional Right to Clean Water: RTCW for Georgia, WWALS Webinar 2022-04-19

    Hahira, Georgia, April 5, 2022 — Trying to protect clean water with current laws and regulations is like trying to defend free speech without the First Amendment. Montana, Pennsylvania, and just last year New York have enshrined Rights to Clean Water, Air, Land, and a Healthy Environment (RTCW) in their constitutions alongside free speech and other basic rights. Florida has a statewide petition signing right now for the 2024 ballot. How can Georgia get RTCW into its constitution? Why should it? And what would such an amendment consist of? This webinar explores those questions. We invite your participation and feedback.

    [RTCW, Speakers]
    RTCW, Speakers

    The zoom meeting will be Tuesday, April 19, 2022, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern Time.

    Register in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcldeGqqDkvHdc3RUptCbwuKzxkpmzfb4-U

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

  • 2022-03-31: Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup 2022-06-04

    Hahira, Georgia, March 30, 2022 — WWALS and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, invite you to join us for a summer paddle to see springs and sinks and to clean up the Withlacoochee River, on Saturday, June 4, 2022. It’s 12.5 miles from Sullivan Launch to Madison Ramp along this wooded blackwater river, with a lunch stop along the way. At lunch, Brett Hemphill of Karst Underwater Research will tell us about the many local caverns connected to the river and its creeks.

    1311x676 Distributary, Boats, Withlacoochee River, Hardee Spring, Trash, M, in Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 4 June 2022Distributary, Boats, Withlacoochee River, Hardee Spring, Trash, M, in Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 4 June 2022

  • 2022-01-26: Rescheduled: Third Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2022-02-19,

    Valdosta, Georgia, January 26, 2021 — An unusual cold snap is expected this Saturday, too cold for novice paddlers. So we’re rescheduling three weeks later, for Saturday, February 19, 2022. Everything else is the same; only the date has changed.

    Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter summed it up, “Safety should be considered above all and hypothermia is a huge issue if someone was to go in the water!”

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman added, “Water temperature was already down to 47 degrees Monday at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River, and air temperatures for this Saturday are predicted to be low of 22 and high of 42. So hypothermia is indeed a risk, however seldom seen in south Georgia. Also not many people would turn out in such cold.”

    Valdosta Mayor Scott James said, “So we’re all agreed: Saturday, February 19, 2022. Come as early as 8AM to get on the shuttle!”

    [Troupville Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, WWTP clean outfall, Spook Bridge, Takeout]
    Troupville Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, WWTP clean outfall, Spook Bridge, Takeout

    We hope there will still be plenty of water for this annual eleven-mile river paddle, past the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s clean outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, with many creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, turtles, and maybe an alligator, down to Spook Bridge, so scary it has its own movie.…

  • 2021-01-19: Third Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River

    Valdosta, Georgia, January 19, 2021 — Looks like there will be plenty of water for this annual eleven-mile river paddle, past the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s clean outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, with many creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, turtles, and maybe an alligator, down to Spook Bridge, so scary it has its own movie.

    Valdosta Mayor Scott James said, “I am excited to partner once again with WWALS, plus this time with Lowndes County, to show people our fabulous blackwater rivers, only a few miles from City Hall and VSU. Valdosta is proud to hardly ever have a sewage spill anymore, and now we’re working on eliminating trash from the river. We remain committed to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!” 

    “Come on down to where I used to fish as a child, and with my children!” said Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter. “I’ve spoken at this paddle every year, and this year I hope you will paddle.”

    “Welcome to this one of our many paddles,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

    600x338 Troupville Boat Ramp, 10:11:58, 30.8513640, -83.3473960, Starting, in Pictures: Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River, Mayor's Paddle, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 27 March 2021 Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River, Mayor’s Paddle, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 27 March 2021,
    https://wwals.net/2021/10/26/pictures-troupville-to-spook-bridge-withlacoochee-river-mayors-paddle-2021-03-27/

  • 2021-11-26: Suwannee Riverkeeper asks FERC to oversee inland Liquid Natural Gas export facilities,

    Hahira, Georgia, November 26, 2021 — After years of trying to get FERC to pay attention to an economic, health, and safety issue, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. has asked FERC to make a rule requiring inland LNG export facilities at least to ask FERC whether it has oversight.

    Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) half a decade ago disclaimed oversight of export facilities for explosive compressed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) unless ships loaded right there for overseas shipping, such facilities are lacking FERC’s environmental, construction, and safety oversight, causing risk of “loss of life and significant environmental and economic consequences,” according to FERC’s own strategic plan. Residents of densely populated neighborhoods where inland LNG export plants are being sited, constructed, and operated are in harm’s way. FERC has relegated the responsibility to citizens to police potential threats to public health, safety and welfare posed by these high-risk LNG operations. There are no official Dockets that provide the public an opportunity to participate in any approval process.

    [LNG export facilities; WWALS Rulemaking petition to FERC]
    LNG export facilities; WWALS Rulemaking petition to FERC

  • 2021-11-12: Valdosta passes resolution opposing strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-11-11

    Valdosta, GA, November 12, 2021 — Yesterday the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin unanimously passed a resolution opposing the proposed Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) strip mine or any others within ten miles of the Okefenokee Swamp.

    [Mayor and Riverkeeper]
    Mayor and Riverkeeper

    “This is a national resource that Valdostans and surrounding cities and counties have enjoyed for a long time,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “Anything that would threaten it: I would hope this Council would come out in support of its citizens, and the activities that this natural resource presents to all of us.”

    “If the state of Georgia will risk the Okefenokee, what won’t they risk?” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Many thanks to Valdosta Mayor and Council for helping stop this threat to the Okefenokee Swamp, a gem of an ecosystem that supports 700 jobs and is the headwaters of the Suwannee River. You can also ask the state to stop this mine:” https://wwals.net/?p=55092

    The resolution further asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reverse its abdication of oversight, asks GA-EPD for a moratorium on all mining permits until effects are settled of the recent court overruling of 2020 Clean Water Act changes, as well as to reject the TPM permits, or at least to review those applications as thoroughly as the Army Corps would, and asks the Georgia legislature to prevent such strip mines near the Swamp or any blackwater rivers in the Suwannee River Basin.

    For the text of the resolution and video of the Valdosta Mayor and Council passing it, follow this link: https://wwals.net/?p=57073

  • 2021-11-10: Winners: WWALS Boomerang paddle race 2021-10-23,

    Hahira, Georgia, November 10, 2021 — The 2021 First Prize winner set a new record for the WWALS Boomerang paddle race, from Georgia into Florida and back: Lloyd Reeves of Crescent City, Putnam County, Florida, in the St Johns River watershed. He was also generous, handing back the prize money.

    [Collage]
    Collage

    All seventeen paddlers had a good time on a cool, sunny, fall morning. The Withlacoochee River water levels were just right, so everybody floated right over the one shoal. Two college paddlers from Valdosta State University CORE were sponsored by Dry Pocket Apparel and Packaging Corporation of America (PCA). WWALS thanks those and other sponsors, the other paddlers, and the silent auction bidders, for a successful fundraiser.

    Of the nine female and eight male paddlers, 12 were from Georgia, and 5 from Florida. Tallahassee’s Leon County, Florida, had almost as many paddlers (4) as local Lowndes County, Georgia (6), and Tallahassee had as many as Valdosta (4 each). The farthest paddler came from DeKalb County, GA, on the other side of Atlanta.

    Lloyd Reeves drove 167 miles to win the six-mile course (3 down and 3 back) in 58 minutes and 43 seconds with his accurately-labeled fastkayak.com.

    That beats the previous record of 1:16:42, made last year by Jackson Buttery of Tallahassee.

  • 2021-10-15: One week to WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia to Florida and back 2021-10-23

    Hahira, GA, October 15, 2021 — We have a group coming three hours from Dublin, GA, to paddle down the Withlacoochee River from Georgia three miles into Florida, and back upstream, in the WWALS Boomerang, one week from now, Saturday, October 23, 2021. Last year’s winner came from Tallahassee, FL. In one week, you could be the winner of the $100 First Prize! Or win in one of the many categories.

    Today is the last day for the $20 early bird tickets. Later it’s $30 online or at the event.
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2021-tickets-168646372841

    Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 23, 2021, to be on the water by 10:45 AM. There will be prizes, and food, and drink.

    You do not even have to bring a boat, if you reserve soon and let us know what type of boat you need: kayak or canoe, single or tandem. Free boat rental is provied by Madison Outpost Adventures of Lee, Madison County, Florida, and VSU CORE of Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.

    Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie says, “Water levels were steadily dropping and now they are rising slightly.” We have a plan if the Withlacoochee River is running too fast to paddle up; we’ll just straighten out the course to go to Sullivan Landing.

    “This is a great way to bring the outdoors community together and showcase the recreational opportunities we have to offer locally,” Bobby McKenzie added. “This event caters to all ages and skill levels, you can either blaze ahead and take first place overall, or push yourself for a personal achievement on the main course or one of the modified routes. You can even just come do a leisurely paddle with like minded outdoor enthusiasts. Just remember to make your way back before the time expires, at most will be 2.5 hours.”

    ….

  • 2021-10-07: A trash source success: parking lot on St. Augustine Road, Valdosta,

    Valdosta, GA, October 7, 2021 — Other businesses can do what Stafford did, and our creeks and rivers will be a lot cleaner! That will make Valdosta, Lowndes County, and every place downstream, more attractive to new and existing businesses, and healthier for people who live here.

    After many times cleaning up trash from Sugar Creek near the Withlacoochee River, WWALS member Bobby McKenzie went upstream in Valdosta, found some sources, and one of the big ones listened. Other businesses can follow this example: put trash cans in parking lots, empty them, and keep them swept.

    [Parking lot, Hightower Creek]
    Parking lot, Hightower Creek

    Bobby tells the story:

    We identified hundreds of pounds of trash being thrown into the tree line just feet from Hightower Creek. The parking lot owner is Valdosta Mall Corners c/o Stafford Development Company (Stafford)….

  • 2021-09-16: River and Creek Cleanup, WWALS, Lowndes County, Valdosta 2021-10-09,

    Hahira, GA, September 16, 2020 — WWALS has found some of the sources of the infamous trashjam on Sugar Creek, and at least one upstream property owner has made progress in stopping litter before it escapes. But there are other sources, and trash still collects back of the Salty Snapper.

    Downstream on the Withlacoochee River, flood waters spread that trash all over the Land Between the Rivers at the Little River Confluence, where one day there will be a River Camp and a River Park. You are invited to join us at Troupville Boat Ramp to walk downstream and help clean up that property, too. Valdosta and Lowndes County also have cleanup locations that same day.

    “If you are looking to help make a difference, these locations need the most help, 9AM, Saturday, October 9, 2021!” said WWALS member Bobby McKenzie, who has been on this trash case for a year now.

    [Flyer]

  • 2021-08-30: WWALS Boomerang paddle race, Withlacoochee River, Georgia, Florida 2021-10-23,

    Hahira, GA, August 30, 2021 — For the fourth year, people will paddle down the Withlacoochee River from Georgia three miles into Florida, and back upstream, in the WWALS Boomerang! Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 23, 2021, to be on the water by 10:45 AM. There will be prizes, and food, and drink.

    “This is a great way to bring the outdoors community together and showcase the recreational opportunities we have to offer locally,” said Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie. “This event caters to all ages and skill levels, you can either blaze ahead and take first place overall, or push yourself for a personal achievement on the main course or one of the modified routes. You can even just come do a leisurely paddle with like minded outdoor enthusiasts. Just remember to make your way back before the time expires, at most will be 2.5 hours.”

    [Flyer]
    Flyer
    PDF

    Tickets are on sale now, $20 online until October 15, then $30 online or at the event.
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2021-tickets-168646372841

  • 2021-08-23: Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021-08-21

    Hahira, GA, August 23, 2021 — Chosen by three judges from a record number of Finalists from Atlanta to Palatka, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) is pleased to announce the winners of the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    [All winners]
    All winners.
    L-R: KJ Wingate, Katherine Ball, David Rodock, Sweet William Billy Ennis, Jimi Davies and his brother, Kathy Lou Gilman, Rachel Hillman.
    Photo: Angela Duncan for WWALS.

  • 2021-08-19: A Model Festival During Pandemic: The Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021

    Hahira, Georgia, August 19, 2021 “We regret to say that Dirty Bird and the Flu will not be one of our Headliners this Saturday, because two of their band members have caught COVID-19,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “But Scott Perkins and his band, Little Perks in Paradise, are coming from Atlanta to play as a Headliner.”

    Tickets are on sale now, $10 online; they will be $12 at the door.
    https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-08-21–songwriting/

    VIP tables seating six in front of the stage are $150; inquire to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

    [Flyer]
    Flyer
    PDF

    The Finals will be a fun festival for the whole family, 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601.

    “Yes, the show will go on, with all pandemic precautions, ” said organizing Committee Chair and WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr. “There will be plenty of music: all nine songwriters will be Finalists! Their songs are all so good, the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee couldn’t bring itself to omit any of them.”

  • 2021-08-04: Nine Finalists for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021
    Hahira, Georgia, August 4, 2021 — All nine songwriters will be Finalists! “Their songs are all so good, the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee couldn’t bring itself to omit any of them,” said Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson Jr.

    [Nine Songwriters, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021]

    In alphabetical order, they are:

    • Katherine Ball from Valdosta, GA, with Rock and Blues song, Something in the Water.
    • Jimi Davies from Atlanta, GA, with Blues rock country song, Dark Water.
    • Billy Ennis from Palatka, FL, with Folk song, Flat Bottom Boats.
    • Brandon Fox from Leesburg, GA, with Americana song, Moonlight (as by BoDean and the Poachers).
    • Kathy Lou Gilman from Kingsland, GA, with American Folk Revival song, The Legend of the Suwannee.
    • Rachel Grubb from Lake City, FL, with Indie Folk song, Cruising down the Suwannee.
    • Rachel Hillman from Tallahassee, FL, with Soul and Jazz song, Gossiping of Butterflies.
    • David Rodock, from Adel, GA, with Folk song, Suwannee River Rag.
    • KJ Wingate from O’Brien, FL, with Folk / Country song, The Hymn of Convict Spring.

    “We’re still starting at 7 PM, but we may run a little later than 11 PM to fit them all in,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “The Finals will be a fun festival for the whole family, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601.”

    Tickets are on sale now, $10 online; they will be $12 at the door.
    https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-08-21–songwriting/

    VIP tables in front of the stage are $150; inquire to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

  • 2021-08-02: Tickets and MC: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021
    Hahira, Georgia, August 2, 2021 — “I am very excited and honored to be the Master of Ceremonies for this year’s Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriters Contest,” said Big Country Wes James, of WAAC FM Rivers Radio. “I can’t wait to hear all the great songs that have been submitted and to find out who this year’s winner will be.”

    “We’re just as pleased that Big Country agreed to be Master of Ceremonies at the Contest!” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    Suwannee Riverkeeper and Big Country Wes James on WAAC FM Rivers Radio 2021-04-20
    Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS of Wes James on WAAC FM Rivers Radio 2021-04-20

    Tickets are on sale now, $10 online; they will be $12 at the door.
    https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-08-21–songwriting/

    VIP tables in front of the stage are $150; inquire to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

    “Florida and Georgia songwriters sent many good new songs about our rivers, swamps, springs, and sinks, ranging through folk, country, blues, soul, and jazz,” said Laura D’Alisera, who won First Prize the first year and has been on the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee ever since. “Public online voting is finished, and the Committee will announce its decision for Finalists this Wednesday, August 4, 2021.”

    “The Finals will be a fun festival for the whole family,” said Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson Jr., who is also WWALS Board President. “That’s 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601.”

    Because of the surge in the COVID-19 virus pandemic, we will test temperatures at the entrance with an infrared thermometer. Tables will be spaced for distancing. Masks will be required when people are close to other people not in their party.

    “We have two headliners this year,” said Committee Member Angela Duncan. “Last year’s winner ….

  • 2021-07-08: Deadline Extended to July 14, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021,

    Hahira, Georgia, July 8, 2021 — “I got in on the extended deadline, and won the contest!” said Laura D’Alisera, who won First Prize the first year.

    Here is the entry form:
    https://forms.gle/tWrqas7qPWDKgpqF6

    “Laura liked it so much she joined the organizing Committee,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    [Flyer]
    Flyer
    PDF

    First prize is $300 plus one day of recording studio time, in the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. Plus $50 for best song from inside the Suwannee River Basin, and $50 for best song from outside. And plaques to best in each musical genre. Youth songwriters, we’ll add a prize for you if you send in your songs.

    “Now you’ve got until Bastille Day to send in your song!” said Songwriting Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson Jr.

    Finalists (well, maybe not youth) get…

  • 2021-07-07: Deadline Today! Song submissions due July 7, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021,

    Hahira, Georgia, April 7, 2021 — “Tired of tropical storms? Stay in, finish your song, and send it in by midnight!” said Laura D’Alisera, who won First Prize the first year. “Laura liked it so much she joined the organizing Committee,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    Here is the entry form:
    https://forms.gle/tWrqas7qPWDKgpqF6

  • 2021-06-23: Georgia Power Grants Again to WWALS for Water Quality Testing 2021-06-21,

    Valdosta, GA, June 23, 2021 — “It’s really exciting to receive another generous grant from Georgia Power to help us continue with as well as increase our testing base,” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “This is huge towards helping to keep tabs on the water health for this watershed.”

    [Presentation and Play, Alapaha River, Naylor Beach]
    WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman receives the envelope from Mary Beth and Elizabeth Brownlee via Hazel, Elleanor and Lindsey Williams; back: Suzy and Abbie Hall, at Naylor Beach on the Alapaha River in Naylor Boat Ramp Park, Lowndes County, Georgia. More pictures here:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/gretchen/2021-06-21–wwals-naylor-ga-power/

    “The Georgia Power Foundation is committed to environmental stewardship and supports efforts focused on improving waterways, lakes and streams across Georgia,” said Georgia Power Southwest Director Joe Brownlee, “We’ve learned that we can do more when we work together with local organizations where we serve, so we felt that supporting the WWALS efforts to perform quality testing in our local watershed fit perfectly with our goals. I think it goes without saying that we all want clean water to drink, bathe, and occasionally even play in. At Georgia Power, we have an employee volunteer organization called the ‘Citizens of Georgia Power’; one of the projects that they chose to work on this year was a clean-up on the Alapaha River landing in Lakeland. So when WWALS reached out and said they had a clean-up in Naylor it seemed like a great project, and thanks to the testing kits we knew the water was clean, which allowed our treasures (our children) to play a little while we cleaned up.”

    “Clean water is a benefit to everyone,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “The grant presentation by Elizabeth Brownlee was non-traditional, but most exceptional. The envelope got a little wet as it passed through little hands and got dropped in the water, however, the result was excellent. Funding for a second year for the WWALS water quality testing program is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Georgia Power!”

    “We are thrilled that….

  • 2021-05-12: Salty Snapper Lunch and Withlacoochee River Wilderness, Langdale Park 2021-05-15,
    Valdosta, May 12, 2021 — WWALS offers a pop-up paddle along the amazingly wild west edge of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin. Join us at Langdale Park Boat Ramp at 9AM this Saturday, May 15, 2021, to paddle three miles to Sugar Creek and the Salty Snapper for lunch. Then we’ll paddle another four miles to the future home of Troupville River Camp at the Little River Confluence, and a few thousand feet up the Little River to Troupville Boat Ramp, where someday will be facilities for Troupville River Park.

    “What better way to enjoy a Saturday, than combining a wilderness paddle and one of Valdosta’s local restaurants,” said Bobby McKenzie, whose idea it was. “Come see what you’re missing!”

    Garrison Wood, manager of the Salty Snapper Seafood & Oyster Bar, said, “We’ll give each paddler 10% off their meal and have a spot inside ready to serve.”

    “I’ll paddle to the Salty Snapper!” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James, on the air on his radio show Tuesday.

    “A sprinkle of rain mid-week is keeping the water level up, yet still below last week’s flooding, so we’re taking this opportunity to paddle this stretch,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “You can meet us at the Salty Snapper for lunch at 11:30 AM, but you only get the lunch discount if you paddle.”

    [Troupville Boat Ramp, Salty Snapper, Troupville River Camp]
    Troupville Boat Ramp, Salty Snapper, Troupville River Camp

  • 2021-04-19: Spaces are filling up for the Ninth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race,

    Adel, Georgia, April 19, 2021 — Southwell Medical of Tifton and Adel has become a sponsor of the annual WWALS and FORB race and leisurely paddle three miles down the scenic blackwater Little River in Reed Bingham State Park between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia.

    “Spaces are going fast, with only four heats of ten people, so sign up soon!” said event mastermind Bret Wagenhorst, an eye doctor in Tifton, GA, and a charter board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS). “First Prize is $100, and another $200 if the winner beats the record.”

    All tickets are $30 online in advance, and you can also rent a boat online from the park and pick it up at the start at Red Roberts Landing. For tickets, boats, and all event details, including sponsor opportunities, see:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-04-24–blrpr/

    Photo: Phil Hubbard, of Dan Phillips placing second in BLRPR 2018.
    Photo: Phil Hubbard, of Dan Phillips placing second in BLRPR 2018.

    You could win in any of a dozen categories, or up to $300 if you beat the previous winning record time. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway, at 8AM on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

    “That’s forty people, not forty boats, so now’s the time to sign up,” said Dianne Walters of Friends of Reed Bingham (FORB).

    The race will start at ….

  • 2021-04-09: Earth Day Rivers Alive Cleanups: Joree Millpond or Withlacoochee River 2021-04-17,

    Valdosta, GA, April 9, 2021 — Pick from a pair of floating Georgia Rivers Alive cleanups for Earth Day, and bring your boat!

    Gretchen Quarterman will lead a floating cleanup on Joree Millpond in Valdosta, Georgia, starting at 913 Millpond Road. You can return whenever you want to, but we expect this boating cleanup to last about two hours. If you have a jon boat and are willing to take a volunteer onto the pond to remove litter, please contact either Gretchen Quarterman (229-834-1945) or Austin Fiveash (229-563-6262). You can also participate in your kayak or canoe. Volunteers will remove litter from along the edge of the pond and from near the spillway. The City of Valdosta is providing a large trash receptacle at the site, thanks to Valdosta Stormwater Manager Angela Bray.

    Bobby McKenzie will lead a paddle cleanup from Sugar Creek behind the Salty Snapper off of Gornto Road, down the Withlacoochee River, and a short hop up the Little River to Troupville Boat Ramp. That’s less than 4 river miles, and even with stops for trash collection should take less than three hours. We will leave the bagged trash at that destination, where Lowndes County Public Works will pick it up Monday

    Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 12:30 PM, Saturday, April 17, 2021….

    [Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River]
    Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River
    Photos: Russell Allen McBride.

  • 2021-03-22: Fun race or paddle for the whole family: the Ninth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race,

    Adel, Georgia, March 22, 2021 — You could win in any of a dozen categories, or up to $300 if you beat the previous winning record time. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway! On Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, it’s the ninth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race. There will be lunch and a kayak raffle. You can just paddle along this scenic three-mile stretch of tea-colored river on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail among cypress trees, turtles, birds, and yes, alligators. (Don’t pet the alligators and they aren’t likely to bother you.) This race also has fierce competitors, with one past winner finishing in barely more than half an hour.

    BLRPR mastermind Bret Wagenhorst, an eye doctor in Tifton, GA, and a charter board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), said, “After having to cancel last year’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we found a way this year, with staggered heats and limited boats, to try to keep the event within Covid guidelines for outdoor activities. This is a great opportunity to learn about the joys of paddling canoes and kayaks, to see the natural beauty of our region’s blackwater rivers, and to have fun while getting some outdoor exercise with family and friends.”

    There are several categories in which you could win, from fastest paddler, one and two person canoe (male and female), solo or tandem kayak (male and female), youngest paddler, oldest paddler, paddler from furthest away, and slowest paddler.

    [Tandem female canoe, orange (BW)]
    Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of 2019 First female tandem kayak: Megan Robinson & Lily Robinson, of Tifton, GA.

    Dianne Walters, president of Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB), said, “This is a great community event, with volunteers from all around helping paddlers from everywhere.”

  • 2021-02-25: Water level reschedule: Mayor’s paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-27,

    Valdosta, Georgia, February 25, 2021 — “We’re rescheduling four weeks later, for 8AM, Saturday, March 27, 2021,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Right now, where we usually park the boats at the end of the paddle is under water. The Withlacoochee River is spread out in the flood plain, increasing possibility of people getting tipped over by overhanging branches. So a month later makes a lot more sense for attracting novice paddlers.”

    [Spook Bridge this week and last year]
    Spook Bridge this week and last year
    Spook Bridge almost 20 feet different.
    Photos: John S. Quarterman 2021-02-23 at 107.5′ NAVD88 or above sea level (24′ above the riverbed),
    Gretchen Quarterman 2020-01-18 at 88′ NAVD88 (4.5′).

    “With the Withlacoochee River still hovering around flood stage, myself and WWALS, in consultation with Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye, have decided to postpone the Mayor’s Paddle ’till Saturday, March 27, at 8AM. We again ask everyone with a love for our area blueways to mark that date and join us for a great day of fellowship on the river!”

    “As always, I will give a good safety briefing, ” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie. “Wear your PFD and stick with the group. But conditions should be much better for novice paddlers in a few weeks.”

    “Better safe than sorry!” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman….

  • 2021-02-09: Petition to EPA: protect from radioactive phosphogypsum stacks,

    Many groups in many states yesterday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve federal oversight of radioactive waste and wastewater from phosphogypsum stacks.

    “WWALS opposes expansion of the decades-old moonscape of a phosphate mine in Hamilton County, and another proposed in Union and Bradford Counties,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “These mines not only suck up massive amounts of water that reduce spring and river flows, they feed ever-growing phosphogypsum stacks with radioactive waste.”

    PCS Phosphate Mine, 2016-10-22, WWALS Southwings flight
    PCS Phosphate Mine 2016-10-22, Southwings flight for WWALS, pictures by Jim Tatum, https://wwals.net/?p=32043


    For Immediate Release, February 8, 2021….

  • 2021-02-04: Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27

    Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers agree on rescheduling the Mayor’s Paddle because of thunderstorms predicted for this 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 new date is Saturday, February 27, 2021.“

    “We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that, so we’re going for three weeks from now. I am still excited to partner with WWALS to hold the Mayors Paddle,”said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “In the past year we have made huge improvements to our sewer system infrastructure, showing our commitment to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

    “WWALS is happy to welcome everyone to this one of our many paddles. We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive,” said WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman. “If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

    [Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge]
    Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge
    Photos: Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS 2020-01-18

  • 2021-02-03: Resounding applause for M-CORES toll road boondoggle repeal bill 2021-02-03,

    Elimination of the proposed boondoggle is just what the state needs

    TALLAHASSEE, February 3, 2021 — The announcement today of a bill filed in the Senate (SB1030) and soon to be filed in the House, to repeal the bill that created M-CORES, the program that would construct 330 miles of unneeded and fiscally dangerous toll roads through rural Florida, was welcomed by No Roads to Ruin Coalition partners from across the state. After 93% of public comments were opposed to M-CORES, the failure by FDOT and outside analysts to identify any need at all for these roads, and the brutally obvious fiscal reasons to stop the M-CORES process in its tracks, repealing the bill and devoting the billions of dollars it would have devoured instead to critical state needs is exactly what Floridians need.

    “Need should have been established before wasting millions of dollars on M-CORES workshops, but that was not possible, because there is no need,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER, WWALS Watershed Coalition. “US 19 from Crystal River to Thomasville, Georgia has nowhere near enough traffic to justify the Suncoast Connector toll road, before even getting into the damage it would cause the Suwannee River, springs, farms, and forests. Cancel M-CORES and spend some of the money directly on pandemic relief, rural broadband, solar panels and batteries, and hurricane shelters,”

    [Empty US 19 Photo: Janet Barrow 2020-12-19]
    Empty US 19 Photo: Janet Barrow 2020-12-19

    Newton Cook, President of United Waterfowlers of Florida said,…

  • 2021-02-01: Start earlier for shuttle: Second Annual Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

    Valdosta, Georgia, February 1, 2021 — Shuttling is difficult during a pandemic, but we’ve found a way. Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, February 6, 2021, to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

    Valdosta Mayor Scott James said, “I am excited to partner with WWALS to hold the Mayors Paddle on February 6. In the past year we have made huge improvements to our sewer system infrastructure, showing our commitment to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

    “WWALS is happy to welcome everyone to this one of our many paddles. We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

    [Joe Brownlee at rest stop]
    Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, January 18, 2021: Mayor at the midpoint.

    WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly- elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

    “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.”

    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.

    The paddle starts…

  • 2020-12-01: Suwannee Riverkeeper asks GA Gov. Kemp to stop strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp,

    Hahira, GA, December 1, 2020 — The letter lays out evidence to support this request: “Georgia is all that stands between a titanium strip mine within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, proposed by coal miners from Alabama. Please direct the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to thoroughly examine the five state permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM). The evidence indicates DNR should reject those applications. At the least, an environmental review equivalent to an Environmental Impact Statement should be conducted.”

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “We’re asking everyone else to ask Georgia to stop this strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp, so it was time to send a letter to Governor Brian Kemp.”

    [Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land]
    Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land

    The letter begins:

    “Dear Governor Kemp and staff,

    “Thank you again for being the first governor to visit Hahira since Jimmy Carter; it was good to speak with you there. Last year you sent a staff delegate to the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) meeting. For the second year running, the Okefenokee Swamp is on GWC’s Dirty Dozen worst threats to Georgia waters, because of a threatened mine.

    “The 60,000 people who wrote to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers against that mine are still opposed, despite the Corps abdicating its oversight.

    “As the largest blackwater swamp east of the Mississippi, the Okefenokee is a state, national, and international treasure, supporting 750 jobs and bringing more than $60 million of income through entrances at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston, Okefenokee Swamp Park near Waycross, and Stephen C. Foster State Park near Fargo, plus hunting on private land nearby. Any change in water level or quality would affect the whole Swamp, the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, which flow from it, and the underlying Floridan Aquifer, from which all of south Georgia and north Florida drinks.”

    The letter reminds the governor that he signed a law to stop railroad ties from being burned at a biomass plant promoted by the current president of the company that wants to strip mine. It notes that same company is still under a Florida Consent Order, and spilled wastewater during Hurricane Irma.

    The letter asks where is Twin Pines’ plan to prevent spills during hurricanes, including of slimes (tiny particles of clay and titanium dioxide that can foul the gills of fish) and mercury that came by air from coal power plants? Where is its plan to keep wastewater from getting into the Floridan Aquifer or from lowering the Aquifer and Swamp levels?

    At least one elected official is already involved, and all should be, especially during this runoff election season:

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to an inquiry by Senator Perdue, noted that after the initial demonstration site, mining would move closer to the Swamp, ending up within 400 feet of the Swamp and half a mile from the Refuge.”

    As so often, this environmental issue is also a private property rights issue:

    “Private property rights are also at risk. TPM on its Corps and Georgia mining applications claimed as part of its project land owned by TIAA, the Fortune 100 financial services company. TPM only retracted that claim after TIAA complained. TPM then said it was negotiating with TIAA, which TIAA denies. Apparently penalties for false application could be up to a $10,000 fine or five years in prison.”

    The bottom line is:

    “Ingle and TPM have experimented more than enough already with our air and waters. They should not be permitted to do so again, especially not next to the Okefenokee Swamp.”

    Everyone should be concerned about the Okefenokee Swamp, which is a local, state, national, and international treasure.

    “The Okefenokee Swamp is of special concern to Suwannee Riverkeeper, since almost all of the Okefenokee Wilderness Area Canoe Trails that people paddle to fish and to see birds, alligators, bears, and cypress trees, are in the Suwannee River Basin. We just camped at Floyd’s Island a few weeks ago. Those animals and plants and the Swamp and the Suwannee and the Aquifer cannot speak for themselves, so we write to you for them, as well as in support of the economy of Georgia (and Florida).”

    “I urge you and the state of Georgia to thoroughly examine the permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC. I believe the state will find the evidence supports rejecting those permits.”

    The rest of the letter is here, including a link to a PDF version, links to the evidence, and how everyone, no matter where they live, can ask Georgia to stop this strip mine.

    https://wwals.net/?p=54187

  • 2020-11-17: Help Georgia stop titanium mine threatening Okefenokee Swamp –Dirty Dozen 2020, Georgia Water Coalition 2020-11-17,

    Hahira, Georgia, November 17, 2020 — Once again, the Okefenokee Swamp features in the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen, “the worst offenses to Georgia’s water.” The Swamp and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and the Floridan Aquifer are still threatened by a strip mine, but this time only Georgia can stop it, with your help.

    [Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site]
    Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site

    Contact: This Okefenokee item was submitted by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (229-242-0102, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org) and Georgia River Network Executive Director Rena Ann Peck, (404-395-6250, rena@garivers.org).

    They also recently….

  • 2020-11-12: Troupville to Spook Bridge, Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

    Hahira, Georgia, November 12, 2020 — Join the Mayor of Valdosta and a hundred of his closest friends for a leisurely paddle on the Withlacoochee River. Mayor Scott James says, “Over a year removed from a terrible spill into our area waterways, and right at a year of massive improvements to our infrastructure since our last ‘Mayors Paddle,’ I am again looking forward to fellowship on the river February 6.”

    All elected officials present will have three minutes to speak. And you can paddle up to them and ask questions.

    WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

    It was fun last year, so let’s do it again! There is plenty of room to stay six feet apart, at Troupville Boat Ramp, the lunch stop, and at Spook Bridge, and of course on the water. We are still working out how the shuttle will work.

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Thanks again to The Langdale Company for riverside access at the mid-way lunch stop, and at the Spook Bridge takeout.”

    [Pictures from last year]
    Pictures from last year, 2020-01-18.

    Attractions include Valdosta’s famous Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outfall, which has not spilled since December 2019. Yes, we know some people in the Valdosta city government consider that not a spill, since the raw sewage never actually got into the WWTP. We hope Valdosta’s new catch basin prevents that. Most of the route is downstream from GA 133, where Valdosta has frequently gotten high E. coli results from nobody yet knows what source. The entire route is upstream of Okapilco Creek, which sometimes carries cattle manure runoff after big rains. We will once again test the water quality from the river.

    When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 6, 2021

    Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18. in Lowndes County.

    GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

    Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
    Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge for this outing and for water quality testing.

    Bring: ….

  • 2020-10-29: Winners: WWALS Boomerang 2020-10-24,

    Hahira, Georgia, October 29, 2020 — Everybody had a good time on a fine sunny day with the water just right. We had a few more paddlers than last year, and more vendors and sponsors, so WWALS Boomerang 2020 was a rousing success!

    [WWALS Boomerang 2020]
    WWALS Boomerang 2020

    “The winner drove up from Tallahassee: Jackson Buttery, who finished the six-mile round trip in one hour sixteen minutes and 42 seconds. He got the $100 cash First Prize.” said Bobby McKenzie, the WWALS Boomerang mastermind….

  • 2020-10-20: This Saturday, with more sponsors and higher water: WWALS Boomerang paddle race into Florida and back to Georgia 2020-10-24

    Hahira, GA, September 4, 2020 — The water’s up, and we’ve added sponsors at State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River 9 AM this Saturday, October 24, 2020. For the WWALS Boomerang paddle race you can choose 1, 2, or 3 miles downstream into Florida, and then back up. There will be food, drink, prizes, and an online silent auction.

    [WWALS Boomerang 2020]
    WWALS Boomerang 2020
    PDF

  • 2020-09-04: WWALS Boomerang 2020-10-24

    Hahira, GA, September 4, 2020 — For the third year, people will paddle down the Withlacoochee River from Georgia three miles into Florida, and back upstream, in the WWALS Boomerang! Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 24, 2020, with the race to begin at 11 AM. There will be prizes, and food, and drink. “There will be plenty of water, no deadfalls, and probably some shoals to make it more interesting,” said Boomerang mastermind and WWALS Outings Chair Bobby McKenzie.

  • 2020-08-31: WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-07-29

    Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

    [Award and Cleanup]
    Award and Cleanup

    The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

  • 2020-08-25: Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

    [Winners*: Brian Barker* via zoom, accepting for, Scott Perkins*, Laura D'Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)]
    Winners*: Brian Barker via zoom*, accepting for him, Scott Perkins*, Laura D’Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Sweet William Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)

  • 2020-08-11: Georgia Beer Co., top-tier sponsor, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-13,

    Hahira, GA, August 17, 2020 — New WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. came to Valdosta and picked up a thousand dollar check from Georgia Beer Company founders Chris Jones and Jack Martin, as top-tier sponsor of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    “Everything depends on clean water, especially beer,” said Chris Jones, originally from Madison, Florida, where he used to report on Valdosta sewage coming down the Withlacoochee River (that situation is getting better now).

    “We appreciate Georgia Beer Company’s increased support. In addition to the check, we look forward to having merchandise in the silent auction,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

    “We met in college, and we’ve been brewing ever since,” said Jack Martin. “We use Valdosta city water; we just remove the chlorination.”

    “They really have their act together, especially hearing about their entrepeneurship in starting Georgia Beer Company,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr. “And we thank Georgia Beer Company for helping us stage the acts for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest!”

    [T2, Jack, Chris, jsq, Georgia Beer Co., Suwannee Riverkeeper]
    WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr., Georgia Beer Co. founders Jack Martin and Chris Jones, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman 2020-08-13

    “Come on down to the Turner Center Art Park Saturday and enjoy some live music,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Local stars Dirty Bird and the Flu are our headliners. Each of the three judges will sing a song. And then the five finalists will play for you and the judges. A $300 First Prize will be awarded, and other prizes, as well!”

    For much more, follow this link: https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-08-22–songwriting/

  • 2020-08-07: Five Finalists Chosen for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

    Five Finalists Chosen for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    Hahira, Georgia, August 7, 2020 — The organizing committee has reviewed the songs received, and chosen five finalists, for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest:

    • Brian Barker, from Live Oak, FL, with a Folk Rock song, “The River.”
    • Ronni Dillon, from Waycross, GA, with a Folk-Alternative song, “Okefenokee Memory.”
    • Sweet William Billy Ennis, from Palatka, FL, with a Folk song, “Choctaw Spirits of the Suwannee.”
    • Kathy Lou Gilman, from Kingsland, GA, with an American Music Revival song, “The River Song (My love, my Suwannee).”
    • Scott Perkins, from Smyrna, GA, with a Southern Boogie song, “Hoochie-Coochie for the Withlacoochee.”

    Our headliner, Dirty Bird and the Flu, will play first, and then each of the three judges will play a song. The finalists will play, and the judges will select winners of the $300 First Prize, the $50 prize for best song from within the Suwannee River Basin, the $50 prize for best song from outside, and plaques for each musical genre.

    “We are pleased to get all this far-flung interest by songwriters,” said WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson, Jr., who was also recently elected president of WWALS.

    “The judges are equally far-flung,” said Committee member Laura D’Alisera, who won the contest its first year. “Emmy Law is from Nashville, Tennessee, Cindy Bear is from Jacksonville, Florida, and J.J. Rolle is from Valdosta, Georgia.”

    “We invite everyone local and far to come listen,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We will also be livestreaming to online ticket holders.”

    Tickets to listen are on sale now, $10 online, or $12 at the door (children under 12 free).
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/third-annual-suwannee-riverkeeper-songwriting-contest-finals-tickets-110284875030

    For VIP tables in front of the stage, contact song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

    Scott James, of 92.1 FM Radio, will be the M.C. at the Contest Finals. They will be from 7-10 PM on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia 31601, just north of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. Rico’s Tacos will provide food, and the Pour House will provide drinks. There will be a silent auction and kayak raffle tickets will be available.

    Our top-tier sponsor, Georgia Beer Company, will say a few words, as will our host, the Turner Arts Center, and several WWALS people will speak about programs, projects, stewardship, and advocacy. Each elected official present will get three minutes to speak on any subject; just remember it’s a festival.

    [Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest]
    Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    Due to the virus pandemic situation and executive orders by the Georgia Governor, we will be …

  • 2020-07-27: Water quality testing grant from Georgia Power 2020-06-27,

    Georgia Power grants funds to WWALS for Water Quality Testing

    Hahira, GA, July 27, 2020 — Aiding our attempts to clean up the Withlacoochee River, Georgia Power Foundation has provided a substantial grant to WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”). WWALS will buy more water quality testing kits and supplies with the funds, as well as other expenses related to our volunteer water quality testing program.

    “Please accept our most sincere thanks for your recognition and support of WWALS Watershed Coalition and our work for clean, fishable, swimmable, boatable water,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We look forward to a productive water quality testing program this year.”

    “We’re honored to get to help,” said Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest Region Director. “One of our goals is to make sure the people of Georgia know about our great natural resources. And also that they’re safe. And y’all help do that by making awareness around water testing. And you build strong relationships I know now, coordinating with the City of Valdosta, making sure they publish their test results. Everything seems to be working and getting better. We’re on a sharp upward curve of getting better with what we do with water and getting to enjoy it. And my little girl, I’m working for her future, and Georgia Power is. Thank y’all, thank you to the volunteer testers, and the Riverkeeper.”

    [Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director]
    Photo: WWALS, of Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, and WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia.

    “The response of the Georgia Power grant and Mr. Brownlee’s comments are quite touching (to me) due to the recognition of how difficult it is for a volunteer organization to do biological water testing over a huge area. The grant enables regular testing that can pinpoint multi-source pollution, which requires a varied response. It’s quite gratifying that both individuals and large companies realize this is a complex situation,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

    “We have several testers already trained, waiting for testing kits. Thanks to Georgia Power, we can buy them kits and get them started testing!” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “Plus we can buy enough kits to train new testers with physical distancing even during the virus pandemic.”

    “We like to think WWALS water quality testing has already done some good, helping warn people when the waterways are contaminated, helping find contamination sources, and encouraging several governmental organizations in Georgia and Florida to test more,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “With these funds from Georgia Power we can do much more. Also thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for introducing us to Joe Brownlee.”

    “The more testing, the more we can also check to see whether fixes such as fencing cattle away from waterways are actually working to improve the situation,” said WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter. “Interested governmental, educational, or agricultural organizations please contact us about that.”

  • 2020-07-14: More than 30 groups organize to save Okefenokee Swamp 2020-07-14,

    See also Suwannee Riverkeeper’s call last month for people to contact the Georgia governor and other elected officials.

    [Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)]
    Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)

  • 2020-07-14: Headliner: Dirty Bird and the Flu; song deadline today, for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    Hahira, Georgia, July 14, 2020 — Our headliner is Dirty Bird and the Flu, “Funky-blues-soul-fusion born straight out of the South Georgia swamps and a charismatic front-man who catches comparisons of all the famous soul singers, Dirty Bird and the Flu is not your typical fare! Come see us live – no two shows are ever the same!”

    [Dirty Bird and the Flu]
    Dirty Bird and the Flu

  • Deadline Extended for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    [Deadline Extended to July 14, 2020]
    Deadline Extended to July 14, 2020

  • 2020-06-23: Judges selected, so send in your song: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,
    Hahira, GA, June 23, 2020 — From Nashville, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Florida, and Valdosta, Georgia, the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee has selected judges for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    “We have two returning judges and a judge from a younger generation,” said Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson, Jr. “Submissions are due by July 8. We’d like songs from every age group and every genre.”
    https://forms.gle/Ztxm8xmwwoAjPLj86

    [Judges and banner]
    Judges and banner

    The new judge this year is…

  • 2020-06-16: Outside in the Art Park, Scott James as M.C.: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,

    Hahira, GA, June 16, 2020 — The new Turner Center Art Park, across from the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, GA, has plenty of room for physical distance while listening to the finalists play in the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 7-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601. (See also PDF.)

    Scott James, Talk 92.1 FM

    “I’m honored to be the Master of Ceremonies for this celebration of our rivers, creeks, swamps, and springs,” said radio personality Scott James, of Talk 92.1, WDDQ, out of Valdosta, GA.

    “Songwriters, don’t forget to send in your song by Wednesday, July 8, 2020!” said Laura D’Alisera, our 2018 overall winner and 2019 headliner, and now two years on the organizing committee.

    “Tickets are on sale now, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and we’re working on livestreaming for ticket holders who do not want to go to in-person events,” said Songwriting Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

  • 2020-05-07: Unprecedented Army Corps virtual Public Meeting about strip mine application near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-05-13,

    May 7, 2020, Hahira, Georgia — In an apparently unprecedented move, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a “virtual Public Meeting” about a mining application. Suwannee Riverkeeper calls on everyone who can to join this online Public Meeting, for at least a few minutes between 2 and 5 PM on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. This will help show there is substantial controversy about the proposed titanium mine on the doorstep of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. That could cause the Corps to at least require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or maybe even to deny the permit.

    “The Corps needs to know people consider the beauty of the Okefenokee Swamp, and the birding, boating, fishing, and hunting nearby that it provides, to be too important to risk with a strip mine far too close to the Swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Everyone down to the Gulf of Mexico should be concerned about this strip mine at the headwaters of the the Suwannee River, and east on the St. Marys River to the Atlantic. Way west at Valdosta, Georgia, exits from I-75 say Okefenokee Swamp this way, so the economic benefits of the Swamp are widespread. People visit the Swamp and the Suwannee from all over the world, and the public outcry needs to be just as widespread.”

    [Mine to Gulf and Ocean]
    Mine to Gulf and Ocean in the WWALS map of all public landings and boat ramps in the Suwannee River Basin.

    To attend the virtual Public Meeting, first you must RSVP by emailing:
    To: CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
    Subject: “RSVP for 13 MAY Public Meeting TPM”

    Make sure that you include your full name, email address, and contact phone number with area code.

    Before the meeting, you will receive the meeting link and security code. Just click the link and follow the prompts.

    The meeting will use the WebEx platform, so…

  • 2020-05-04: Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order (see also PDF)

    Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

    [Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
    Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

    “The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

    This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

    “Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

    The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: https://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

    “It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

    The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
    https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

    “This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

    Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
       Mr. Lewis Hays
       Manager, Watershed Compliance
       Environmental Protection Division
       2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
       Atlanta, GA 30334
       Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
       404-463-4953

  • 2020-04-23: On Earth Day, FERC approved Sabal Trail Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, compressor stations 2020-04-22,

    FERC on Earth Day rubberstamped Sabal Trail pipeline compressor stations in Georgia virus hotspot and Florida location that already leaked

    Hahira, Georgia, April 23, 2020 — “What better way to say they don’t care, than to do this on Earth Day?” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke out its rubberstamp during a virus pandemic, ignoring its own process, as well as all the comments and our motion against, to approve turning on two compressor stations, including one in Albany, Georgia, which is the Georgia city worst-affected by the virus, and another at a site near Dunnellon, Florida, which already leaked multiple times even before construction started.”

    [Project Location Map]
    Project Location Map

    Methane from fracking is not more important to push through a Sabal Trail pipeline than the health of local people or even Sabal Trail’s own workers.

    Compressor Station from FL 200
    Photo: WCJB, of Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station after leak, 2017-08-11.

    Quarterman added, “With the price of oil negative and “natural” gas down 40%, it’s time to ask investors if they want to go down with the fossil fuel ship of fools and time to ask politicians if they want this to be their legacy.”…

  • 2020-03-30: Song submissions open April First (no fooling!): Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,

    Song submissions open April First (no fooling!): Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    Hahira, Georgia, March 30, 2020 — Bigger and with a new venue, the Turner Center for the Arts, the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest seeks songs. Submissions open Wednesday, April 1, 2020, yes, no fooling!

    [Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest]
    Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

    “Georgia Beer Co. is back as our top-tier sponsor, which helps us get these new songs about our rivers, swamps, springs, and sinks,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

    Finalists will play at the Contest, 6-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, judges will judge, at the Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601. There will be food and a cash bar, as you watch and listen, and you can browse the artworks at the Turner Center. There will also be a kayak raffle and a silent auction, as well as a range of buttons, stickers, hats, notecards, signs, shirts, and posters for sale: this is a fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition.

    Photo: Sara and Scotti Jay for WWALS, of Kyle Chamberlain and David Rodock playing Alapaha Laphogs at the 2019 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.
    Photo: Sara and Scotti Jay for WWALS, of Kyle Chamberlain and David Rodock playing Alapaha Laphogs
    at the 2019 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

    “I heard so many good things about last year’s Contest when I was in Newfoundland, that….”

  • 2020-03-19: Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL.
  • 2020-03-16: Supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp ready to stop new strip mine application by Twin Pines Minerals,

    Hahira, Georgia, March 16, 2020 — The coalition of supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp against anything that would harm it stands ready to stop the new strip mine application, same as the old one.

    Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) of Birmingham, Alabama, in its new application claims its proposed titanium strip mine less than three miles from the Okefenokee Swamp would be on a “reduced mining area,” which is actually 86% of what they proposed last time. They say they want to do a “demonstration” mine.

    [Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine]
    Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine
    PDF

    Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says, “Let their foot in the door and it will be even harder to get rid of them later. TPM is under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for violations at four mines due south in north Florida. Chemours now wants a fifth Florida titanium mine on Trail Ridge. Why would we think TPM would stop with just a nibble of Trail Ridge in Georgia? Our Okefenokee Swamp with its fishing, boating, birding, and hunting nearby, is much more important than any mine, especially since it is the headwaters of the Suwannee River and the St Marys River.”

    Despite TPM’s assurances, the miners have not proven….

    [Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
    Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
    in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.