Tag Archives: Spook Bridge

VDT on Mayor’s Paddle

This one went well. Next year we’ll call it something like the Mayor and Chairman’s paddle. Thanks to everyone who came for supporting WWALS outings and advocacy.

[Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall]
Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall; Photos: John S. Quarterman

Down the River: Mayor’s Paddle back on track, Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 29 March 2021,

VALDOSTA — Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and 40-plus city and Lowndes County residents gathered Saturday for a three-hour trip down the Withlacoochee River.

The Mayor’s Paddle is a fundraiser and kayaking experience that started in 2020 via a partnership with WWALS Watershed Coalition. “Last year, we formed it just to have a conversation with the cities and municipalities to our south, and to anybody who loved the river here,” Matheson said. “It was our way of saying we’re fully and only committed to keeping this waterway clean and useful for everybody in the area.”

WWALS also partners with Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for the Banks Lake Full Moon paddles.

We partner with Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB) for the BIG Little River Paddle Race, coming up April 24, 2021, at Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, and FORB actually does about half the work on that one.

You could say we partner with the downstream Florida counties in advocating that they should be paid back by Valdosta for the expense they’ve gone to in well and river water quality testing since Valdosta’s December 2019 record sewage spill.

We didn’t have many participants from Florida or elsewhere this time. Maybe we’ll have to do another paddle downstream in Florida for that.

Meanwhile, thanks to The Langdale Company for access at Spook Bridge and at the lunch stop. Continue reading

Withlacoochee River flood paddle 2021-02-27

Some of us paddled anyway back in February, after we first rescheduled the Mayor’s Paddle, which is coming up next weekend, Saturday, March 27, 2021. Two months earlier, it was smooth sailing for experienced paddlers. The overhanging branches would have been a problem for novices, and there were very few places to get out if you did capsize.

But the Withlacoochee River should be just right by this Saturday, so come on along!
https://wwals.net/?p=54923

You’ll get to see the Little River Confluence, future site of Troupville River Camp, when it’s not underwater, as well as the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall (of clean treated water), Millrace Creek and other creeks, as well as three bridges, including our takeout just below Spook Bridge. Thanks to The Langdale Company for access there and at the lunch stop.

WWALS is happy to have Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson as our guest. He will speak before we paddle, as will Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter. We are inviting nearby county and city officials in Georgia and Florida, as well as statehouse and Congress members. Each elected official will get three minutes to speak.

[Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell's turtle, Spook Bridge]
Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell’s turtle, Spook Bridge

[Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232]
Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232

I will say a few words about advocacy, especially water quality testing. Expedition leader Bobby McKenzie will give the safety lecture. Then we will paddle!

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading

WWALS Vision for water quality and access in Lowndes County, Georgia 2021-03-01

Lowndes County, Georgia, already has much river, lake, and swamp access. More people need to know about that. Plus there is substantial room for improvement, in access and in water quality, health, and safety.

[Letter, Map]
Letter, Map

March 1, 2020

To: David Barth
Barth Associates
david@barthassoc.com

Cc: George Page, Executive Director
Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Rec. Authority
gpage@vlpra.com

Re: WWALS vision for
Lowndes County waterways

Dear Dr. Barth and Director Page,

Thank you for the invitation to provide suggestions for resource protection and recreational access for the Rivers and other waterways of Lowndes County, including access, water quality, land acquisition, etc. Please see below a list of such suggested improvements.

For the rivers and the aquifer,
John S. Quarterman
Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
/s
WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

Health and Safety

Continue reading

Water level reschedule: Mayor’s paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-27

Valdosta, Georgia, February 25, 2021 — “We’re rescheduling four weeks later, for 8AM, Saturday, March 27, 2021,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Right now, where we usually park the boats at the end of the paddle is under water. The Withlacoochee River is spread out in the flood plain, increasing possibility of people getting tipped over by overhanging branches. So a month later makes a lot more sense for attracting novice paddlers.”

[Spook Bridge this week and last year]
Spook Bridge this week and last year
Spook Bridge almost 20 feet different.
Photos: John S. Quarterman 2021-02-23 at 107.5′ NAVD88 or above sea level (24′ above the riverbed),
Gretchen Quarterman 2020-01-18 at 88′ NAVD88 (4.5′).

“With the Withlacoochee River still hovering around flood stage, myself and WWALS, in consultation with Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye, have decided to postpone the Mayor’s Paddle ’till Saturday, March 27, at 8AM. We again ask everyone with a love for our area blueways to mark that date and join us for a great day of fellowship on the river!”

“As always, I will give a good safety briefing, ” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie. “Wear your PFD and stick with the group. But conditions should be much better for novice paddlers in a few weeks.”

“Better safe than sorry!” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “This Saturday you can still come to our Banks Lake Full Moon Paddle, to see the sun set and the moon rise, and maybe see bats fly out. Gather at 5:45 PM at Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County. We do those every full moon, plus at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia. At all outings during this pandemic, we’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, March 27, 2021

Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18, in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

Directions: Head west from Valdosta on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road), cross I-75 and the Withlacoochee River, and at the light for Val Tech Road turn left into the park around Troupville Boat Ramp.

Come as early as 8 AM to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge and to a midway lunch stop for this outing, and for water quality testing.

“Speaking of river access, some of you are aware that it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: when we do this paddle, WWALS will have a 16-foot trailer to haul boats and a golf cart for people who don’t want to walk the quarter mile up to the road. At the midpoint, we will also have a truck and trailer waiting to haul out the (few, we hope) people who want to get out there. Thanks again to The Langdale Company for access to both places,” said WWALS member Steve Miller, who is supplying the golf cart.

“All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.”

The paddle starts at the site of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat before Valdosta. The entrance road is the old north-south Broad Street of Troupville, which continues into the woods. That greatly simplifies planning for the future Troupville River Park. Paddling a few thousand feet, we come to the Little River Confluence with the WIthlacoochee, with its view of rivers in three directions. The Confluence is in the private Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), which you can help become part of Troupville River Park. Just upstream on the Withlacoochee is the future site of a paddle boat take-out for Troupville River Camp, with screened-in sleeping platforms and bathrooms with hot and cold running water and air conditioning. Paddle on down the Withlacoochee River and see the turtles, birds, fish, and cypress and pine trees.

The clean water outfall from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) makes an impressive waterfall. Valdosta now tests three times a week on forty river miles from US 41 to the state line, which is one big way we know the river is clean from E. coli most of the time, along with twice-weekly downstream testing by Madison Health in Florida, and tests by WWALS, plus occasional bacterial tests and DNA marker and chemical tracer data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. WWALS will also test the water quality from the river the Thursday before the paddle. See https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

We will pass several creeks, and the notorious Sabal Trail methane pipeline. If the river stays up somewhat, we will float right over County Line Shoals, just upstream from US 84. Just below US 84 is a railroad bridge, and around the last bend is Spook Bridge, so famous it has its own movie. We take out on the left bank just below the bridge.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup Continue reading

Spook Bridge in minor flood, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-23

The Withlacoochee River is a tad high for novice paddlers.

[Takeout flooded, eddies upstream, boat parking flooded, muddy entrance road]
Takeout flooded, eddies upstream, boat parking flooded, muddy entrance road

Yesterday the Withlacoochee River was at 107.5′ NAVD 1988 (feet above sea level), or 24′ old-style above the riverbed. Minor flood stage starts at 104′, and Action stage at 99′. With no more rain predicted this week, currently it’s expected to be down about 100.5′ by Saturday noon. Continue reading

Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27

Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers agree on rescheduling the Mayor’s Paddle because of thunderstorms predicted for this Saturday, February 6, 2021,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

“We don’t want to risk inexperienced paddlers in this kind of weather,” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie, who made the decision to postpone. He added, “The new date is Saturday, February 27, 2021.“

“We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that, so we’re going for three weeks from now. I am still excited to partner with WWALS to hold the Mayors Paddle,”said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “In the past year we have made huge improvements to our sewer system infrastructure, showing our commitment to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

“WWALS is happy to welcome everyone to this one of our many paddles. We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive,” said WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman. “If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

[Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge]
Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge
Photos: Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS 2020-01-18

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 27, 2021

Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18, in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

Directions: Head west from Valdosta on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road), cross I-75 and the Withlacoochee River, and at the light for Val Tech Road turn left into the park around Troupville Boat Ramp.

Come as early as 8 AM to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge and to a midway lunch stop for this outing, and for water quality testing.

“With the rains today, and 24-hour test incubation period, nobody can test the river again before a paddle this Saturday, but we’ll have plenty of time before the last Saturday of February,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “It was not even clear Outhouse Port-A-Potties could even get to the midpoint to deposit a potty, much less get it back out after rains tomorrow, but conditions should be better in three weeks.”

“Speaking of river access, it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: WWALS will have a 16-foot trailer to haul boats and a golf cart for people who don’t want to walk the quarter mile up to the road. At the midpoint, we will also have a truck and trailer waiting to haul out the (few, we hope) people who want to get out there.” said WWALS member Steve Miller, who is supplying the golf cart.

“All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.”

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

Suwannee Riverkeeper added, “Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.”

The paddle starts at the site of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat before Valdosta. The entrance road is the old north-south Broad Street of Troupville, which continues into the woods. That greatly simplifies planning for the future Troupville River Park. Paddling a few thousand feet, we come to the Little River Confluence with the WIthlacoochee, with its view of rivers in three directions. The Confluence is in the private Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), which you can help become part of Troupville River Park. Just upstream on the Withlacoochee is the future site of a paddle boat take-out for Troupville River Camp, with screened-in sleeping platforms and bathrooms with hot and cold running water and air conditioning. Paddle on down the Withlacoochee River and see the turtles, birds, fish, and cypress and pine trees.

The clean water outfall from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) makes an impressive waterfall. Valdosta now tests three times a week on forty river miles from US 41 to the state line, which is one big way we know the river is clean from E. coli most of the time, along with twice-weekly downstream testing by Madison Health in Florida, and tests by WWALS, plus occasional bacterial tests and DNA marker and chemical tracer data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. WWALS will also test the water quality from the river the Thursday before the paddle. See
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

We will pass several creeks, and the notorious Sabal Trail methane pipeline. If the river stays as high as seems likely, we will float right over County Line Shoals, just upstream from US 84. Just below US 84 is a railroad bridge, and around the last bend is Spook Bridge, so famous it has its own movie. We take out on the left bank just below the bridge.

Paddle distance: 11 river miles

Paddle duration: 6 hours; or much less, if the river is high and fast.

Expedition leader: Bobby McKenzie: do what he says for safety and enjoyment.

Backup: In case of weather or high or low water is Saturday, March 13, 2021.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see the WWALS calendar or the WWALS outings and events web page. WWALS members also get an upcoming list in the Tannin Times newsletter.

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition

[WWALS Logo]

contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
850-290-2350
229-242-0102
https://wwals.net/
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632
Ashlyn Johnson, Public Information Officer
City of Valdosta

Logo, City of Valdosta

ajohnson@valdostacity.com
229-259-3548
www.valdostacity.com

===

Postponed: Second Annual Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

Update 2021-02-05 Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27.

Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers are agreed that we are postponing the Mayor’s Paddle due to predicted thunderstorms for tomorrow, Saturday, February 6, 2021,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

“We don’t want to risk inexperienced paddlers in this kind of weather,” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie, who made the decision to postpone. He added, “The reschedule dates we are considering are Saturday, February 27, and Saturday, March 13. Stay tuned for more on that.“

“We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who had already reached the same conclusion. Bill Holt of Valdosta Boys & Girls Club concurs.

“Plus with rain today and 24-hour test incubation period, nobody can test the river again before a Saturday paddle,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. agreed.

“Yes, we may all look silly if the weather clears tomorrow, but we’d rather look silly than risk people paddling in a thunderstorm,” added WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman.

“There’s also a river access issue. With the rains today, it was not clear Outhouse Port-A-Potties could even get to the midpoint to deposit a potty, much less get it back out after rains tomorrow,” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

[Boats on trailer]
Boats on trailer

“Speaking of river access, some of you are aware that it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: Continue reading

Spook Bridge, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line: all good, Withlacoochee River 2021-01-31

Update 2020-02-06: Clean Forty Miles, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-04.

All my Sunday tests, from Spook Bridge (just below US 84) to State Line, were good, well below the 410 cfu/100 mL one-time E. coli limit. Spook Bridge and State Line were below the 126 average limit. But there are two catches: rain and downstream. So I wouldn’t go boating, swimming, or fishing until I see more test results. The Madison and Hamilton Health bacterial advisory is still in effect, and will probably remain so until they see two sets of clean Florida tests.

[Chart, Plates, River, Swim Guide]
Chart, Plates, River, Swim Guide

The catch: the contamination Suzy Hall’s Sunday WWALS test still showed Saturday at State Line must have washed downstream. We have no new tests from Madison Health yet. They probably tested today (Tuesday), so maybe we’ll get those tomorrow. Continue reading

Start earlier for shuttle: Second Annual Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

Update 2021-02-05 Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27.

Valdosta, Georgia, February 1, 2021 — Shuttling is difficult during a pandemic, but we’ve found a way. Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, February 6, 2021, to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

Valdosta Mayor Scott James said, “I am excited to partner with WWALS to hold the Mayors Paddle on February 6. In the past year we have made huge improvements to our sewer system infrastructure, showing our commitment to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

“WWALS is happy to welcome everyone to this one of our many paddles. We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

[Joe Brownlee at rest stop]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, January 18, 2021: Mayor at the midpoint.

WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly- elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

“All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.”

Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.

The paddle starts Continue reading

Videos: Radio: Full Wolf Moon Banks Lake, Mayor’s Paddle, Okefenokee 2021-01-25

It was good to talk about the Banks Lake Full Wolf Moon Paddle this Thursday, and the Mayor’s Paddle coming up in two weeks, Monday morning on Scott James Talk 92.1 FM radio. We also talked about water trails and water quality testing.

[Banks Lake Full Wolf Moon Paddle, Mayor's Paddle, Withlacoochee River, and Climate Change]
Banks Lake Full Wolf Moon Paddle, Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River, and Climate Change

Remember, you can ask the Georgia governor and other elected and appointed officials to stop a strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, and ask him to stop that wood pellet plant in Adel while you’re at it.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist, or you can pick individual videos below. Continue reading