Category Archives: GA-DNR

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

Walkers Crossing closed, Full Corn Moon Paddle, Banks Lake 2020-09-02

You may want to allow more time if you’re driving to Banks Lake this evening from Hahira (I-75 exit 29) or Valdosta for the Full Corn Moon Paddle, since Walker’s Crossing is closed, and that’s on the usual route. Walker’s Crossing is where east-west GA 122 meets north-south GA 125 (Bemiss Road).

[Walkers Crossing, GA 122 @ GA 125 (Bemiss Road) w. of Banks Lake]
Walkers Crossing, GA 122 @ GA 125 (Bemiss Road) w. of Banks Lake
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

Remember, try to be at Banks Lake by 7:15 PM to have time to sign in and get ready to launch. Follow the link for more outing details:
https://wwals.net/?p=53303.

It looks like you can go around from Barretts on New Bethel Road. Or just follow the Detour signs. Georgia DOT – Southwest, facebook, August 31 at 9:52 PM

Lowndes Co (close to Lanier Co): the railroad crossing on SR 122 just east of SR 125 is scheduled to close tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 1, and is expected to reopen Thursday, Sept. 3. This is required for repairs to the crossing. Detour routes will be US 129, SR 122 Connector and SR 125. Watch for detour signs.

Thanks to Mike Kondrot for the heads-up.

If you’re coming up I-75 from Florida, you’ll probably also notice this: Continue reading

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole. Continue reading

Pictures: Troupville River Camp site –Gretchen Quarterman 2020-08-27

Yesterday the Detail Group convened at Troupville Boat Ramp to see the site of the proposed Troupville River Park.

[Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), George Page (VLPRA), Mac McCall (Architect), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), Tom Baird (Archaeologist) at Troupville Boat Ramp]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), George Page (VLPRA), Mac McCall (Architect), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), Tom Baird (Archaeologist) at Troupville Boat Ramp

A larger Steering Group is meeting weekly to update and resubmit last year’s application for a grant to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a Troupville River Camp. This year we have strong buy in from Lowndes County, the City of Valdosta, three local Authorities (Parks & Rec., Tourism, and Development), the Chamber of Commerce, McCall Architects, ASA Engineering, Valdosta Disc Golf, and others. Suwannee River Water Management District has already been participating. The local Georgia statehouse delegation was on last week’s call, as was the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR). Key to all of this is 74 acres for sale by Helen Tapp of Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), below Troupville Boat Ramp down to the Little River Confluence, to be combined with the existing 49-acre VLPRA park, to create a 123-acre Troupville River Park. If you or your organization are interested in helping with this nature preserve and multi-use park, please let us know.

[Concept Plan by ASA Engineering (rotated and trimmed)]
Concept Plan by ASA Engineering (rotated and trimmed)

Yesterday we looked to see where hiking, biking, and horse trails might go, to see fishing spots along the Little River, to look at the Little River Confluence, where a Viewscape Pavilion can go.

[Withlacoochee River comes in from left, continues ahead]
Withlacoochee River comes in from left, continues ahead

We considered stairs or ramp for boaters to take out of the Withlacoochee River, to look at invasive plants and native palmettos, big oaks, and pines upstream, along with deadfalls and switchbacks. Then we went inland to see where to put bathrooms, dining pavillion, and sleeping platforms for Troupville River Camp.

[Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), Mark Gaither (Disc Golf), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Baird (Archaeologist), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering, Mac McCall (Architect), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), George Page (VLPRA)]
Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), Mark Gaither (Disc Golf), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Baird (Archaeologist), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering, Mac McCall (Architect), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), George Page (VLPRA)

We walked up the big discovery by ASA Engineering last November of old Broad Street, the main north-south street and highway of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat until 1860, before Valdosta.

To see where the Championship Disc Golf Course could go, we walked down the Power line right of way and the Old Valdosta sewer line near the Withlacoochee River, below the Georgia 133 bridge over the Withlacoochee River.

Later, I went back and established that the apparent East-west road does indeed go through from the Little River to the Crossroads with Broad Street. I didn’t have much luck finding a road through east to the Withlacoochee River, but I did find a Nice hunting spot on the river, more than one Gopher hole, and got pictures of more of the old Valdosta sewer line easement where a Disc Golf fairway can go.

Many of these pictures are by Continue reading

Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Winners and excellent music from the judges and headliner, too, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, GA, August 24, 2020 — Everyone went away happy. The finalists got prizes, and the audience was impressed with the song each judge played, and with the headliner. The audience was impressed that one contestant, who couldn’t come due to the virus pandemic, was projected on the bandstand via zoom anyway.

[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)

The winners are: Continue reading

Supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp ready to stop new strip mine application by Twin Pines Minerals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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 their mining would not affect the groundwater, the underlying Floridan Aquifer, surface streams, or the Okefenokee Swamp.

Their application form proposes to mine 1041.7 acres, the same size tract as in their application of last year that they retracted in early January of this year. But their actual application says “TPM now wishes to conduct a demonstration mining project for a reduced mining area of approximately 898 acres.”

86% of the original acreage is not much reduced. And how is that just a demonstration?

No doubt you will hear more about that and other problems with the miners’ application from the coalition supporting the Swamp and opposing anything that would harm it. That coalition includes a wide range of organizations, Continue reading

Troupville River Camp not on GOSP approved projects: try again this year 2020-01-22

There is a list approved by Georgia DNR for grants from the Georgia Outdoor Stewardshp Program (GOSP), but Troupville River Camp is not on it:

[GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects]
Georgia Reporter: GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects; see also PDF.

The GOSP web page says pre-applicants will be notified February 3, 2020, but the GOSP board apparently made their choices more than two weeks ago. Like everybody else, they’re making it up as they go this first year of GOSP.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 22 January 2020, Georgia park projects axed as tax on outdoor gear comes up short, Continue reading

U.S. EPA still says mine would have substantial and unacceptable impact –Suwannee Riverkeeper 2019-12-31

In the Charlton County Herald, December 31, 2019:


Dear Editor,

The burden of proof is still on the miners to show their mine would not damage the Swamp or the Rivers, and they have not met that burden.

U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.”

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Anonymous drone aerial of heavy equipment on the mining site 2019-11-23.
River Styx is in the background, Okefenokee Swamp is on the horizon.
St. Marys River flows out top left horizon. Suwannee River flows out far side of Swamp.

That’s about “the permit application submitted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC” for a titanium strip mine. “The proposed 2,414-acre mine area lies in proximity to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and the potential secondary effects of the mine on the NWR have not been demonstrated by the permit applicant.”

This is the second letter EPA has sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the mining application is deficient. We obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The entire letter is here: https://wwals.net/?p=50931.

You, too, can still comment to the USACE, and all comments they receive before the Corps announces a decision can be used in any potential lawsuits. The addresses are: Continue reading

Naylor Boat Ramp Park is not Lola VPA or WMA 2019-05-19

If you’re down at the beach on the Alapaha River, just upstream from US 84, in the new Lowndes County Naylor Boat Ramp Park, and a game warden should happen to say you need a WMA pass, please tell him you’re in a public park owned by Lowndes County, and if there’s any doubt about that, please consult the Lowndes County Tax Assessors online map, or call Lowndes County, or call me.

[Beach]
Beach, Lowndes County Tax Commission Map, Parcel 0259 030B.

There seems to be some confusion, possibly because the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) map for the Lola Tract WMA does not show Continue reading