Tag Archives: GA DNR

If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis 2024-04-23

There is one slight catch: buying the land will be very expensive. There is probably only one organization that can afford it.

Although the lawsuits likely to ensue as soon as the permits are issued may reduce the price.

Nonetheless, merely buying the land would encourage more mining permit applications. There needs to be legislation to prohibit such mines anywhere near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Also, I don’t know what questioning he is referring to.

Dwight Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 23, 2024, If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land,

The mining permit for Trail Ridge near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has evolved into a contentious debate. Though initially a civil discourse on ecological preservation, recent opposition has taken a harsh tone, unfairly questioning the integrity of state officials involved in the decision-making process. Amid this, crucial facts have been overlooked.

[If you can't beat the mines, buy the land --Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR]
If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR

Having served on the board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 14 years, including as its past chairman, I’ve engaged with various stakeholders, including environmental groups, local elected officials and the mining company, Twin Pines, that is seeking permits to mine for minerals near the treasured Okefenokee swamp. Despite the board having no direct influence over the permit decision, we closely monitored the process.

Opponents of mining proudly claim they want to save the Okefenokee, but so does the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which is Continue reading

Lanier County new campground and recreation facility beside Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge –GOSP 2024-03-21

Congratulations, Lanier County, for getting a GOSP grant to enhance Banks Lake!

Lanier County
Improving Recreation & Water Quality; $1,491,057

Lanier County will construct a new campground and recreation facility that would serve the visitors to Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This project features wildlife viewing platforms, new waterway access and kayak launch, disc golf course, walking trail, boardwalk, and green space. The proposed campground will be equipped with full utility hookups, sanitary sewer, and shower and laundry facility.

This project also includes invasive species removal at Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

[Lanier County new campground, and recreation facility, beside Banks Lake NWR, $1,491,057 from GOSP 2024-03-21]
Lanier County new campground, and recreation facility, beside Banks Lake NWR, $1,491,057 from GOSP 2024-03-21

This was the only GOSP grant awarded in the Suwannee River Basin.

Lanier County applied in several previous years, and finally got the grant.

If I am not mistaken, this project will mostly be on county-owned land east of Banks Lake Boat Ramp, west of the Rivers Farm House. Continue reading

A 19th-century navigable definition does not work for 21st-century river economies

We never had bales of cotton boated down the Withlacoochee River, because there are too many shoals.

[19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy]
19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy

But we do get fishing both from the shore and in paddle and power boats up and down our rivers, and for other recreation, There are massive investments by nearby cities and counties and other organizations in cleaning up the rivers for those purposes.

The state of Georgia needs to revise its 19th-century definition of navigability and passage to match the 21st-century present.

The antique 19th-century definition

The Georgia 1863 definition says a navigable stream “is capable of transporting boats loaded with freight in the regular course of trade either for the whole or a part of the year.” See Georgia Navigability Report, 3rd Edition and O.C.G.A. 44-8-5 (2010)

Some people once tried boating down to the Suwannee to establish commerce. They sold the remains of the boat and returned to the former Lowndes County seat of Troupville, at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River. Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Continue reading

Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26

Update 2024-03-08: A 19th-century navigable definition does not work for 21st-century river economies 2024-02-29.

I watched it so you don’t have to, Monday’s meeting of the Georgia Natural Resources & Environment Environmental Quality Subcommittee.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnl5fJP5ptM&t=1425s

The subcommittee is meeting again at 1PM today, February 28, 2024, with HB 1397 as the only thing on the agenda, and Rep. John Corbett again chairing.
https://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/Agendas/Natural%20Resources/January%2024,%202011%2027.pdf

See also the input I sent the legislators yesterday, Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27.

This is not a transcript. Except where I use quotation marks, it is a paraphrase of what I found to be the important points of the Monday subcommittee meeting.

[Rep. James Burchett, Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26]
Rep. James Burchett, Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. James Burchett (District 176, Waycross) said he was concerned about people boating on oxbows and creeks onto private property, so the bill definitely did not include tributaries as navigable. He worries that currently the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) is in a difficult position of having to decide matters of law.

Burchett said that he constructed the list Continue reading

Fishing Access in Georgia: House Committee Report 2023-12-01

Update 2024-02-28: Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26.

Here is the Final Report with Recommendations after four public input meetings and a decision meeting of the Georgia House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources.

[Chair Rep. James Burchett and GA House Fishing Access Study Committee 2023-11-30, plus fishing, fish, boating, and trash]
Chair Rep. James Burchett and GA House Fishing Access Study Committee 2023-11-30, plus fishing, fish, boating, and trash

Basically, they want to preserve both fishing rights (and private property rights) while preserving boating right of passage. The Study Committee found right of passage tied to navigability, so its key recommendations are to determine and delineate which parts of which rivers and streams are navigable.

If you know Committee Chair Rep. James Burchett or any of the committee members, please contact them asking for maximum navigability while preserving private property rights. Or contact your Georgia state house member.
http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ Continue reading

Fishing, boating passage, and navigability in Georgia waters 2023-10-12

Update 2023-12-31: Fishing Access in Georgia: House Committee Report 2023-12-01.

What waterways are navigable? How does navigability apply to fishing rights and private ownership of waterways? What about right of passage? How does the Georgia state constitutional Right to Hunt and Fish apply? And what about GA-DNR boat ramps?

[Access, Navigable, Boat Ramps]
Access, Navigable, Boat Ramps

This controversy started with a lawsuit about the Flint River, but it has already spread to other rivers and creeks, and sooner or later will affect the Suwannee River Basin.

The Chair of the Georgia House Study Committee on the subject is Rep. James Burchett, District 176, which includes southwest Coffee, Atkinson, Lanier, and northeast Lowndes Counties, all in the Suwannee River Basin. Plus he is the County Attorney for Brooks County.

If you know him, maybe you’d like to talk to him about the importance of river passage and public fishing rights. As he is reported to have said, “The intention is to find clarity. The property owners and fishermen all want to know, where can we fish and where can we not?”

Continue reading

Hurricane Idalia: State Parks Closed, Georgia and Florida 2023-09-02

Stir crazy from staying in due to Hurricane Idalia and want to go to a state park?

Many of them are open, but some remain closed, in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida.

Or come to the WWALS Banks Lake Morning Paddle 2023-09-04.

[Georgia and Florida State Parks Closed 2023-09-02]
Georgia and Florida State Parks Closed 2023-09-02

According to Georgia State Parks Weather Alerts – Hurricane Idalia:

Continue reading

Chainsaw cleanup, Outings, Boat Ramps, Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ Clinch County Commission 2023-08-07

Update 2023-09-12: Clinch County Resolution against strip mine, for Okefenokee Swamp 2023-09-11.

In addition to its usual business of roads and taxes, the Clinch County Commission discussed with Suwannee Riverkeeper outings, boat ramps, and a proposed resolution against the strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Collage @ Clinch County Commission 2023-08-07]
Collage @ Clinch County Commission 2023-08-07

For the boat ramp, Clinch County can apply to the GA-DNR Recreational Trails Program, Nonmotorized. Andrew Schock, writing for the landowner, The Conservation Fund, sent a letter saying that among the half a dozen possibilities he favors Drawdy Mill Landing on Drawdy Mill Road, which is about half way between Griffis Fish Camp and Fargo Boat Ramp.

For the resolution supporting the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee River against the proposed strip mine, the Commissioners chose to take another month to read it thoroughly, with a vote next month, which should be 6PM, Monday, September 4, 2023. The resolutions already passed by other cities and counties, including the one passed last week by Echols County, are on the WWALS website. For more about that mine, see
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining

Thanks to Chairman Henry Moylan and the Commissioners for their hospitality, to Clinch County Administrator Jaclyn James for ongoing communications, and to WWALS member Etta Lee for talking to Commissioners and for being at the meeting; also for dinner.

Below are pictures, videos by Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange of the relevant agenda item, and links to documents.

Here is a WWALS video playlist of the relevant LAKE videos.

For the entire meeting, see the LAKE blog post, Videos: Boat Ramps, Okefenokee Swamp, LMIG, Taxes @ Clinch County Commission 2023-08-07.

Continue reading

Water trail sign fixing, Franklinville Road, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-25

Update 2023-06-25: Water quality sampling, Franklinville Road, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-25.

Somebody stole one of the water trail signs, and pushed the signpost off from vertical. So we fixed it.

[Before, fixing, after: WLRWT signs, Franklinville Landing, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-25]
Before, fixing, after: WLRWT signs, Franklinville Landing, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-25

This is at Franklinville Landing, on the Withlacoochee River at Franklinville Road, near the location of the old Lowndes County seat of Franklinville. It looked like somebody backed into the signpost, after somebody stole the bottom sign. That’s the one about this location, Franklinville Landing: what you can see upstream and downstream, how far, etc.

Back in 2019, when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) provided WWALS a generous educational grant through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), we ordered duplicates of some signs. Franklinville happened to be one of them, so the duplicate now replaces the stolen sign. Continue reading

Work in progress at Lakeland Boat Ramp 2023-06-20

Update 2023-06-27: Good Alapaha River 2023-06-25.

Thanks to GA-DNR for silt fences and turbidity curtains during their upgrade of Lakeland Boat Ramp, and for that upgrade.

Also thanks to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) for officially adopting the name Lakeland Boat Ramp as decided back in 2018 by the Lakeland County Commission, as well as Berrien Beach Boat Ramp, also decided in 2018 by the Berrien County Commission, both for the WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail. This naming development is specifically thanks to WWALS tester Kimberly Tanner and GA-DNR Boating Access Coordinator Jeff E. Bishop.

[At-water ARWT sign, silt fences and turbidity curtain, Lakeland Boat Ramp, 2023-06-20]
At-water ARWT sign, silt fences and turbidity curtain, Lakeland Boat Ramp, 2023-06-20

When I took these pictures, Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the Statenville Gauge read about 7.17 feet (83.27′ NAVD88). Today, Saturday, June 24th, the Alapaha River is almost seven feet higher, at 14.01′ (90.11′ NAVD88), into Action Stage.

So don’t be surprised if GA-DNR’s plan to start work May 30 and end about July 26 gets extended a bit. Continue reading