Category Archives: GA-DNR

Ask the Georgia Legislature to act while GA-DNR keeps passing the buck about mining near the Okefenokee Swamp 2023-01-27

GA DNR keeps passing the buck about the proposal to strip mine for titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, by miners from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC. The Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and it interchanges surface water with groundwater all the way down to the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

Please go ahead and send in your comment on the Mining Land Use Plan.

And ask your Georgia House Representative to sign on to HB 71, the Okefenokee Protection Act. That bill will not stop this permit application, but it would stop further expansion of that mine and any other mines on the east side of the Swamp.

[Trail Ridge Land LLC]
Trail Ridge Land LLC
Land the Charlton County Tax Assessors show owned by Trail Ridge Land LLC.
The northwest corner buts right up against the Swamp.

Floridians, you can comment. And you can ask your Georgia friends and relatives to ask their statehouse members to sign on to HB 71.

Back in September, Georgia DNR Board Chair Bill Jones said Continue reading

Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-02-08: Morven Solar denied @ Brooks County Commission 2023-02-06.

Update 2023-02-06: Herbivores, sediment basins, silt fences for Morven Solar –WWALS to Brooks County Commission 2023-02-06.

These WWALS videos show the Public Hearing that was the only agenda item at the Brooks County Planning Commission, January 19, 2023.

[Movie: Rules for Speaking --Pat Sharpe, Chair (30M)]
Movie: Rules for Speaking –Pat Sharpe, Chair (30M)

The Planning Commission recommended approval with conditions.

The actual decision on the Special Exception will be made tonight at 5PM by the Brooks County Commission at Brooks County Courthouse, East Screven Street, Quitman, GA, 31643.

There is no agenda for tonight’s meeting on the county’s website, WWALS has still not received agenda nor board packet in response to our open records request of January 30, 2023.

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:


Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19
Videos by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS).

Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker. Except for some camera glitches, these videos show the entire meeting.

See also the agenda, the board packet, the pictures of the sites of Morven Solar, and Report: Conditions wanted on Morven Solar by Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-20.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Continue reading

Report: Conditions wanted on Morven Solar by Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-20

Update 2023-02-06: Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19.

In front of a standing-room-only audience, and after long hesitation, the Brooks County Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend Conditional Approval for the Morven Solar project, pending “A Valid Road use Agreement put in-place” and “Erosion Measures provided and Filtration Plants in the Retention Ponds”.

Here is the report sent from the Planning Commission to the County Commission for its decision on February 6th. The report has some puzzling omissions.

[Meeting 2023-01-19, Recommendation 2023-01-20]
Meeting 2023-01-19, Recommendation 2023-01-20

Staff still recommends denial, and the included Staff Analysis is the same as provided before the Planning Commission meeting. Continue reading

Agenda: One item, Morven Solar @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-01-18: Pictures: sites of Morven Solar 2023-01-18.

It may be a long meeting even with only one item, since Morven Solar seems to be contentious.

[Aerial Map of Morven Solar and Agenda, Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19]
Aerial Map of Morven Solar and Agenda, Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Here is the agenda, received in response to a WWALS open records request from Brooks County Zoning and Code Enforcement Agent Melissa Smith. Continue reading

Morven Solar rezoning proposed around Slaughter Creek, Little River @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-01-18: Agenda: One item, Morven Solar @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19.

A large solar project, in agricultural fields and pecan groves scattered around wetlands, will be heard by the Brooks County Planning Commission at 5:30 PM this Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 610 S Highland Road, Quitman, GA 31643.

[Morven Solar, Slaughter Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Morven Solar, Slaughter Creek, Withlacoochee River

Staff’s recommendation:

Due to the staff’s concern of the amount of “prime farmland”, the quantity of jurisdictional wetlands, the threatened and candidate species potential impacts, and the amount of access roads because the parcels are not contiguous (especially Peach Road — dirt), the Staff recommends DENIAL of the applicant’s proposed use as a Large-Scale Solar Energy System.

WWALS is generally in favor of solar power, but this project raises serious doubts, most of which are expressed in the Staff Analysis.

The final decision will be made by the Brooks County Commission, 5:00 PM, Monday, February 6, 2023, also at 610 S Highland Road, Quitman, GA 31643.

The project is between Morven and Hahira, straddling Slaughter Creek, upstream from the Little River. Continue reading

Budget and Bats: Suwannee River Visitor Center

Regarding when and why the Suwannee River Visitor Center closed, I went to an authoritative source, Bryan Gray, Manager, Stephen Foster State Park (SFSP).

[Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, 30.6823112, -82.5600485]
Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, https://www.google.com/maps/@30.6823112,-82.5600485,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

He says it started with budgeting after the recession. Georgia State Parks had to operate more like businesses.

He started at SFSP in 2011, and the Visitor Center closed not long after that.

They tried to operate it in different capacities, such as Continue reading

Suwannee River Visitor Center 2022-12-29

Update 2023-01-02: Budget and Bats: Suwannee River Visitor Center.

Somebody asked, what is that big building next to the Suwannee River at Fargo, and why is it closed?

[Front, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:22:40, 30.6822910, -82.5606494]
Front, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:22:40, 30.6822910,-82.5606494

The Suwannee River Visitor Center opened in 2004, before the nearby Eco-Lodge. Both are part of Stephen C. Foster State Park.

It was a showcase for the wildlife, composition, and history of the Suwannee River, as well as an example green building. But it has been closed since at February 2015 or earlier. Here is what I could find about it.

Ashley Harper, WALB TV, June 15, 2004, Tourist attraction brings life to Fargo, Continue reading

In-progress Langdale Park trail map @ VLPRA 2022-12-01

Update 2022-12-13: Dark Branch and Three Mile Branch with trails in Langdale Park by Phillip Williams 2022-12-12.

VLPRA did find an old map of Langdale Park trails. While I was there yesterday, Jeff drew on it the location of bridges he is repairing right now. I did not take a photograph because it is obviously a work in progress.

[John S. Quarterman, Jessica Catlett, the Map, Jeff, George Page, VLPRA sign]
John S. Quarterman, Jessica Catlett, the Map, Jeff, George Page, VLPRA sign

They are also working on designs for new trail signs, as well as for a kiosk at the pavilion and some other informational signs at several other points. They like the WWALS z-fold water trail brochures, and they plan to do one somewhat similar. They are aware of the Georgia Recrational Trails Program (RTP), which grants federal funds for trails just like these, but they don’t want to wait on writing a grant proposal and seeing if they get it: they’re fixing up the Langdale Park trails right now.

Most of the trail names that Phillip Williams and Bobby McKenzie have deduced are correct, but Continue reading

GA-DNR Board does not discuss mining near Okefenokee Swamp 2022-09-27

Nobody said anything new about the titanium strip mine proposed near the Okefenokee Swamp, when the Board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources met at the Stephen C. Foster State Park Eco-Lodge, just outside the Okefenokee Swamp, in Fargo, Georgia.

But you can tell Georgia legislators and candidates in the election that a majority of Georgians say the state should immediately protect the Swamp from mining, according to a recent poll.
www.protectgeorgia.org/okefenokee

[DNR Board and Twin Pines dragline]
DNR Board and Twin Pines dragline

Citizens were not allowed to speak to the Board. But you can send them a message:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/#howtocomment

Floridians, you can write to GA-DNR, too, telling them part of the Okefenokee Swamp is in Florida, and anything that affects it will affect the Suwannee River of the Florida State Song.
TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov

Former Valdosta City Council member John Eunice, now Assistand Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, basically recited Continue reading

High E. coli near One Mile Branch fish kill, and maybe fuel spill 2022-09-23

Update 2022-10-01: Good Water Quality, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2022-09-29.

Update 2022-10-01: Equipment next to One Mile Branch at VSU was put there by Valdosta to route around a sinkhole.

The City of Valdosta says “a fuel spill may be a contributing cause” of the One Mile Branch fish kill.

Meanwhile, WWALS finds E. coli counts too high even upstream of the fish kill, but more than doubling in the fish kill.

WWALS rescheduled our Chainsaw cleanup, which was supposed to be this morning, on the Withlacoochee River downstream from Sugar Creek, which is downstream of One Mile Branch.

I recommend everyone else also avoid One Mile Branch, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River from Sugar Creek at least down to the Little River Confluence, until there is some resolution of this fish kill, the high E. coli counts, and the alleged fuel spill.

[One Mile Branch sites]
One Mile Branch sites

Scotti Jay collected water samples Friday and Sara Jay plated them. The results are:

Drexel Park Bridge: 966 cfu/100 mL
One Mile Branch Waterfall: 1,100 cfu/100 mL
West Gordon Street: 2,566 cfu/100 mL

The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (GA-AAS) one-time sample limit for E. coli is 410. The GA-AAS alert limit is 1,000. Continue reading