Big Shoals Scouting, Suwannee River 2021-05-14

Bring boat wheels and be ready for a half-mile portage around Big Shoals in the WWALS outing tomorrow.

[Portage Now, Big Shoals, Beach eddy, Banner at beach below shoals]
Portage Now, Big Shoals, Beach eddy, Banner at beach below shoals

That’s the conclusion from the Friday scouting organized by Park Manager Manny Perez and Randy Madison of Florida Trails, in conjunction with WWALS Intern Bobby McKenzie and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. Park Ranger Peter Shanks led Randy, Bobby, and me to three possible put-ins below BIG Shoals. The third one is best, with a nice slope to a beach.

We are all for reasonable accommodation per our WWALS nondiscrimination policy, which in this case means you’ll need to be able to climb up at the take-out before the shoals, pull your boat for a half mile, including dragging it over a couple of rough spots, and slide it back into the water at the beach put-in. We can help, but you’ll need to do most of the work, because we’ll be pulling our own boats.

Click on any of the small pictures below to see a bigger one. There’s also a google map of the locations of these pictures. Continue reading

Not-so-dry Alapaha River to Suwannee River –Bobby McKenzie 2021-05-07

WWALS members Bobby McKenzie and Russell Allen McBride took advantage of water in the usually-dry lower Alapaha River to paddle from Sasser Landing to the Suwannee River and Gibson Park Boat Ramp.

[Sasser Landing, sun tree, Jennings Bluff Landing, US 41 Alapaha River Landing, twisted tree, Gibson Park Boat Ramp]
Sasser Landing, sun tree, Jennings Bluff Landing, US 41 Alapaha River Landing, twisted tree, Gibson Park Boat Ramp

Along the way, they saw the new still-steep stairs at Jennings Bluff Launch and discovered a US 41 Alapaha River Landing.

These are all on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT). Continue reading

Good upstream, bad down, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-13

Update 2021-05-22: All clear, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-20.

There’s good water quality news upstream for tomorrow’s Withlacoochee River paddle from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and the Salty Snapper.
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55532

Yesterday (Thursday) Bobby McKenzie sampled Langdale Park Boat Ramp and GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, and Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River. His results today for all three were well within the single-sample limit for E. coli.

Eyeballing the Withlacoochee at GA 133, he decided the level was too low for that stretch of the paddle. However, Bobby paddled from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and up it, and except for a couple of portages as you get to Sugar Creek, there’s plenty of water. Bring mud boots and you can stand up in the river there and drag your boat across. And 10% off lunch for each paddler at the Salty Snapper!

[Results, Plates, River, Swim Guide]
Results, Plates, River, Swim Guide

Also for Thursday, there’s bad news from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp downstream to the state line, and by now that contamination has probably washed farther down the river. WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got horrendous results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, and above the single-sample limit at State Line Boat Ramp. Nankin Boat Ramp was barely within that limit. If I were you, I would stay off the Withlacoochee River below US 84 for a few days. Continue reading

Pop-up Paddle, Okefenokee Swamp, and Songwriting Contest on Scott James radio 2021-05-11

Update 2021-05-14: There’s good water quality news upstream for tomorrow’s Withlacoochee River paddle from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and the Salty Snapper. Not so good downstream.

The Salty Snapper pop-up paddle this Saturday may be a bit truncated, due to water levels getting low. We may paddle only from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to the Salty Snapper, because the second leg on to Troupville Boat Ramp is getting too low. Expedition leader Bobby McKenzie will post updates on the facebook event and the meetup, and we’ll blog final status before the paddle. Bobby’s out paddling the route right now.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1136633426809951/
https://www.meetup.com/Withlacoochee-Alapaha-Suwannee-RIvers-WWALS-Outings/events/278008951/

Follow this link for other details on this outing:
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55532

Looks like you can shuttle by scheduling with the new Valdosta on-demand minibus transit service for a $2 ride back from the Salty Snapper to Langdale Park Boat Ramp.
https://www.valdostacity.com/public-works/valdosta-demand

[Movie: Pop-up paddle, no fee, at Langdale Park, Saturday, 2021-05-15]

Tuesday morning, Suwannee Riverkeeper was talking about this paddle with Scott James on his 92.1 FM radio show.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist:

Continue reading

WWALS Non-Discrimination Policy 2021-05-11

The WWALS Board passed a policy this Tuesday, May 11, 2021:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc, (WWALS) does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, or disability in purpose, activities, or actions.

This has been our practice all along; the Board merely decided to formalize it.

This WWALS policy also applies to Suwannee Riverkeeper, which is a project and a staff position of WWALS.

What does this policy mean for WWALS outings? Actually, not much different from what we have been doing all along. We have had people with various disabilities paddle with us before. We are happy to help people in and out of boats. That applies even to people whose legs fall asleep during a paddle.

[Reed Bingham State Park East Boat Ramp (Dan Phillips), Gibson Park Boat Ramp (Bobby McKenzie)]
Reed Bingham State Park East Boat Ramp (Dan Phillips), Gibson Park Boat Ramp (Bobby McKenzie)

The key is reasonable accommodation.

We describe the level of fitness required for any given outing, so people can decide whether they want to tackle it or not.

Some outings, such as the upcoming Big Shoals portage, up and down steep slippery banks around the biggest rapids on the Suwannee River, will require participants to be able-bodied. Continue reading

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.”

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 3 PM, Saturday, May 15, 2021

Put In: Langdale Park Boat Ramp, 3781 N. Valdosta Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602, in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.88747, -83.32395

Take Out: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18.

Free: As a one-time experiment, we are waiving the outing fee for this one pop-up outing. The fee has never seemed to be a deterrent to anybody paddling, but we’ll see if anybody says they came because this one was free. Everyone will still have to sign in so everyone will be covered by WWALS insurance.

All WWALS outings are free to WWALS members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://www1.wwals.netdonations/#join

Shuttle: 7.5 miles, 30 min.
If you can, please organize your own shuttle. This outing includes the traditional WWALS team shuttle. Everybody takes their boats to the put-in, most people drive to the take-out, and the drivers pile into one or two vehicles and go back to the put-in. We will require masks and open windows.

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

Continue reading

GA 376 Alapahoochee River Bridge to be replaced 2021-05-10

There was quite a bit of advance notice that the bridge that provides the most upstream paddling access to the Alapahoochee River is being replaced, and now the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has given public notice of a variance for a contractor to replace the bridge according to specifications by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Echols County, Georgia.

[Notice, GA 136 Alapahoochee River Bridge in Lanier County News]
Notice, GA 136 Alapahoochee River Bridge in Lanier County News

This bridge is on the WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail. Continue reading

Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s positive answer to Suwannee Riverkeeper’s question about the Okefenokee Swamp was covered by the local newspaper of record.

[VDT, Ossoff, Warnock]
VDT, Ossoff, Warnock

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55092

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 6 May 2021, Ossoff: Millions for S.Ga. schools,

During Ossoff’s visit, Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman asked about the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge is the largest east of the Mississippi and carries a hefty amount of wildlife biodiversity. The mine could potentially impact the refuge’s native species, basin hydrology and overall integrity.

Continue reading

Water Trail signs planted at Langdale Park Boat Ramp 2021-05-06

In time for the Salty Snapper Pop Up Paddle and Lunch this coming Saturday, April May 15, 2021, Bobby McKenzie planted the WWALS water trail signs next to the put in, Langdale Boat Ramp.

[Signs, Camera]
Signs, Camera

Thanks to Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA) for re-opening Langdale Park after the recent high water.

These WWALS signs are for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT), and here they are next to the boat ramp, which is on the Withlacoochee River. Thanks to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) for the grant that funded making these signs. Continue reading

Clean upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-06

Update 2021-05-14: Good upstream, bad down, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-13.

We have mixed results for this week. Madison Health got a too-high single sample at the GA-FL line for Tuesday, May 4, but the other results by Valdosta and WWALS testers are all good. So we don’t have enough recent data to say very confidently, but especially given almost no rain since Tuesday, most likely the Withlacoochee River is good for boating, swimming, and fishing.

[GA 122, Cleary Bluff, Chart, Swim Guide]
GA 122, Cleary Bluff, Chart, Swim Guide

This Thursday, Elizabeth Brunner got zero (0) at Folsom Bridge on the Little River, 166 at Hagan Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, and 100 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River, all on GA 122. Continue reading