Tag Archives: Madison County

Florida Campsites to Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-04

Because of low water, we’re shifting downstream, to put in at Florida Campsites Ramp and take out at Allen Ramp. That’s a shorter paddle, 5.39 river miles. It still goes by Sullivan Slough and first-magnitude Madison Blue Spring, and there are more springs downstream from there, including second-magnitude Pot Spring, as well as some nice swimming and lunching beaches.

WWALS and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, invite you to paddle and to clean up the Withlacoochee River.

[River, Route]
River, Route

When: Gather 10 AM, launch 11 AM, moonrise 10:40 AM, sunset 8:34 PM, end 2 PM, Saturday, June 4, 2022

Put In: Florida Campsites Ramp, 2137 NW 47th St, Jasper, FL 32052, in Hamilton County, Florida. From Jasper, Hamilton County, FL, travel north on US 41 to SR 6; turn left; travel west on SR 6 to CR 143; turn right and travel north to NW 44 Street; turn left; follow road to NW 45 Street; turn right; follow road to NW 22 Avenue; turn left and follow road to NW 21 Place and ramp is on the right.

GPS: 30.501128, -83.242411 Continue reading

Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup 2022-06-04

Update 2022-06-03: Because of low water, we’re shifting downstream: Florida Campsites to Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River 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

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Chervil Drive Distributary, Withlacoochee River 2022-01-13

Update 2022-01-21: Blue Sink, Sullivan Slough –Susan Liden 2021-01-18.

Another Withlacoochee River distributary to a sinkhole! This one revealed by WWALS member and archaeologist Tom Baird. I’m calling it Chervil Drive Distributary because we don’t know any more traditional or official name for it. It’s downstream from the Chitty Bend East Distributary and on the other side of the river.

[Chervil Distributary, Withlacoochee River, Madison County, FL]
Chervil Distributary, Withlacoochee River, Madison County, FL, in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Another interesting feature is further down river on the right bank about a mile above Madison Blue Springs. At flood, water pours through a gap in the limestone bank and floods a large channel that goes back to a deep sink. The weight of water in the past broke through the ceiling of a cavern and created a beautiful, clear, good-sized swimming hole. It was evidently a popular swimming and picnic spot in the past. Don’t know the correct name of the feature; my wife and I call it “Thanksgiving Spring”, because we found it while hiking around one Thanksgiving Day. However, it’s not a spring (no water comes from it), but an opening to the water table. Nice and cool on a hot day. J

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Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River 2022-01-05

Ken Sulak, retired from USGS, sent this update on the Alapaha River bridge site 0.8 miles downstream from Sullivan Launch Sasser Landing, or 0.64 miles downstream from the CR 150 bridge. Plus a likely old ferry site, and maybe a previous location of Sullivan Launch Sasser Landing.

[Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River, c. 1989]
Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River, c. 1989 –Florida Memory

This is the site of the ‘Jennings Bridge’, a steel through-truss bridge, apparently built around 1902-1903. Some online bridge websites state that this is the oldest steel/iron highway bridge in Florida. But, that is doubtful—if the construction date I have is correct. For example, the ‘Adams Bridge’ aka ‘Steel Bridge’ in White Springs was built in 1891, and the original 2-span bowstring style bridge, the ‘Lee Bridge’ over the Withlacoochee (right where the current CR-141 bridge is located) may have been built in the late 1880s. I would like to explore the riverbank and look at what remains of the bridge supports. If there are cutoff Lally columns, then the Jennings Bridge was probably indeed built around 1902-1903. But if the supports are old limerock concrete or brick, then it would have been built before 1898.

[Jennings Bridge in WWALS ARWT map]
Jennings Bridge in the WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT) map.

Anyway, I was just writing to note the name of the Jennings Bridge—you might want to add that to your interactive map. Hinton’s 1976 History of Hamilton County calls it by that name, as well as Florida Memory. Some folks say it collapsed in the late 1970s, one article says 1981, Florida Memory Archive has several photos of the falling-apart, but still-standing bridge dated 1989.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.”

[Flyer]
Flyer
PDF

State Line Boat Ramp is at Continue reading

Graco Way illicit dump site, Madison County, Florida 2021-09-04

WWALS member Elizabeth Reynolds reported many tires and other trash on a lot at the corner of Graco Way and NE Pineapple Street in Madison County, Florida. That’s one mile south down CR 145 from State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. She had picked up tires there several times, but had run out of places to take them.

We followed up and got her some answers.

You can also report trash or other problems related to our waterways in the Suwannee River Basin: https://wwals.net/report/

[Graco Way corner, tires, map]
Graco Way corner, tires, map. Photos: Elizabeth Reynolds

I called Madison County Code Enforcement, Gloria Randall, Code Enforcement Officer, code@madisoncountyfl.com, (850) 973-3641
https://madisoncountyfl.com/code-enforcement/

Turns out it’s a well-known problem. Cleaning it up is the responsibility of the property owner. Unfortunately, that’s a trust, which means there’s no single person in charge. Continue reading

Health Alert, Withlacoochee River, high Fecal coliform 2021-07-28

Update 2021-07-30: Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29.

Madison County, Florida, Health Department issued a health alert to “residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.”

[Alert, Data, River]
Alert, Data, River

It’s not obvious why from the datapoint for yesterday at the state line on the FDEP website. FDEP only publishes E. coli results, so what they published for yesterday from Madison Health was 132 cfu/100 mL E. coli. That’s above the average limit of 126, but well below the one-time limit of 410. So I asked about that. Continue reading

Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24

Update 2021-06-27: Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.

Going by WWALS water quality testing results for Thursday, it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River, and maybe the Alapaha River, for a few more days.

[Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing]
Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing

Very unusual: too-high E. coli on the Alapaha River, at Willacoochee Landing on GA 135 in Atkinson County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Valerie Folsom. There was a lot of rain upstream in the previous few days, which make me wonder about the city of Alapaha’s wastewater treatment plant.

Unfortunately expected: way-high E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek, with many thousand cattle in Brooks County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Michael Bachrach. Don’t be surprised if Quitman had a spill and gets around to reporting it about a week later.

Somewhat puzzling: downstream on the Withlacoochee results range from acceptable to clean as a whistle at Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River. Thaks to WWALS tester Gus Cleary. Even with the river high and fast after the recent rains, it takes a little while for the contamination to wash downstream. Three inches of rain fell in Brooks County Thursday, so don’t be surprised if things get dirty downstream.

We have no new data upstream of Knights Ferry, because we had a technical glitch with upstream WWALS tests.

Meanwhile, Valdosta has posted nothing newer than for Monday. They did catch up to last week with the downstream data, which corroborated what we already knew from WWALS tests.

The Tuesday too-high Madison Health result for the state line still has not appeared on the FDEP website. Continue reading

Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River, bad at GA-FL line after rains 2021-06-22

Update 2021-09-19: Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River 2021-08-18.

Update 2021-06-25 Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24.

Unfortunately as expected, the recent rains have washed Fecal coliform and E. coli into the Withlacoochee River. The Madison County, Florida, Health Department has issued an advisory of possible bacterial contamination. I wouldn’t want to get that river water on me until better results are seen. It’s most likely both upstream and downstream of the one datapoint Madison Health collected, which is for the GA-FL line. Better wait a few days before swimming, fishing, or boating on the Withlacoochee River.

[Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide]
Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide

The contamination most likely comes from the usual source: cattle manure, mostly washing off of open pastures in Brooks County, Georgia, down Okapilco Creek.

But we do not really know, because the only data we have for this week is the one report by Madison Health for yesterday, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. We only know that much because Madison County Chairman Donnie Waldrep Sr. posted it on his facebook page. It does not yet appear on the public web page of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The most recent data we have for Valdosta is from last week, before the rains, and only for US 41, GA 133, and US 84, all upstream of where Okapilco Creek enters the Withlacoochee River. The last downstream data Valdosta has published is for two weeks ago, Monday, June 7, 2021.

I hear Valdosta wants people downstream in Florida to understand that recent contamination is not coming from Valdosta. Well, timely publishing that downstream data would help with that.

Not publishing that data until weeks later could give the impression that Valdosta does not care about people downstream. Continue reading

Florida needs water quality testing and sign posting

Florida needs to test our rivers all the way to the Gulf, several times every week, instead of depending on Madison County and the city of Valdosta and WWALS.

Jim Tatum caught me and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson collaborating, probably about getting FDEP to do the DNA marker and chemical tracer tests that have been instrumental in showing most of the recent Withlacoochee River contamination has come from ruminants, of which the most numerous are cattle.

Photo: Jim Tatum, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and OSFR Founder Merillee Malwitz-Jipson
Photo: Jim Tatum

Calusa Riverkeeper John Cassani knows I bring up the need for statewide Florida testing at almost every weekly Waterkeepers Florida meeting, after he mentions testing where he is.

Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, Guest opinion: Floridians have the right to know if our waters are safe, Continue reading