Strip mine would endanger swamp 2020-05-22

In the Valdosta Daily Times today:

Signs at Exits 18 and 16 from I-75 say “Okefenokee Swamp, Stephen C. Foster State Park, 62 miles,” in hopes travellers will stay in Valdosta first.

[Okefenokee Swamp sign at I-75 exit 16.]
Okefenokee Swamp sign at I-75 exit 16.

The Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee River, a favorite paddling, birding, and fishing location of many people from here. The smoke from the 2017 West Mims Okefenokee fire reached Valdosta. Charlton County thanked Lowndes County for sending assistance.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of that fire, some miners from Alabama bought up land southeast of the Swamp. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, AL, applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to strip mine titanium less than three miles from the Swamp.

After more than 20,000 public comments, the miners this March retracted that application. They filed a new one in April, for slightly smaller acreage. So far more than 30,000 public comments have been filed, also overwhelmingly against.

Yet the miners persist in wanting titanium dioxide for paint. These same miners are under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for a variety of infractions at four titanium mines in north Florida. See: http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

Any change to the water level or water composition of the Swamp would affect the whole Swamp, including Stephen C. Foster State Park. That would affect the Suwannee River, beloved by south Georgia and north Florida.

The Corps should at least require an Environmental Impact Statement.

To comment to the Corps, send email by Thursday, May 28, 2020, to:

CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil

Mention Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper with WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

[Valdosta Daily Times]
Valdosta Daily Times

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Good Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-05-20

Water quality test results through Wednesday are good, and rain has only been drizzles except way upstream. That’s probably not enough to wash any new E. coli into the rivers. So I’ve set the Swim Guide Withlacoochee River “beaches” to green for “Meets water quality standards”. This is all advisory, of course: conditions can change rapidly. But there’s no big rain in the forecast.

WWALS will be testing this weekend. You can help.

[Swim Guide]
Swim Guide

Since our last report, we’ve gotten data from Valdosta through Wednesday, May 20, and from Madison Health for Tuesday. That all confirms the WWALS results over the weekend. Continue reading

Any additional mining would be closer to the refuge. –FWS to Sen. Perdue 2019-11-21

“The initial project location is the farthest that mining activity would be from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) boundary and the Okefenokee Swamp. Any additional mining that occurs within the 12,000-acre permit area would be closer to the refuge. The northwest boundary of the permit area is within a half mile from the refuge boundary and 400 feet from the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp,” wrote the Fish and Wildlife Service to Senator David Purdue.

You can still comment to the Army Corps demanding an Environmental Impact Statement.

Minnie Lake, Shirley Kokidko, Gretchen Quarterman, 11:42:54,, Minnie Lake
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Okefenokee Swamp, 2017-12-10

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) wrote that in response to an inquiry by Senator David Perdue of Georgia. Sen. Perdue also asked if FWS actually had jurisdiction over the proposed mining area, and FWS replied saying that it did have several kinds of oversight.

But FWS spelled out the bottom line: “It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to demonstrate what the extent of impacts of the project will be to surrounding natural resources.”

And the applicant still has not done that, not even in its second application.

No longer discussing the northern reaches of its landholdings much doesn’t mean Continue reading

Three Little River Landings in Swim Guide 2020-05-21

WWALS has added three more “beaches” on Swim Guide, this time on the Little River.

Our 300 closest friends from #PaddleGA2019 will recognize one of these, where they all put in for seven days on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers last summer: Cook County Boat Ramp (GA 76), Folsom Bridge Landing (GA 122), and Troupville Boat Ramp (GA 133).

[Laptop]
Laptop
In the app, these beaches will appear if you are near.
In the web interface, search for: georgia little river withlacoochee.

All are marked green for “Meets water quality standards” due to the zero (0) E. coli result I got at Cook County Boat Ramp Saturday, which is upstream on the Little River from the other two, combined with the zero result Suzy Hall got downstream on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, and very low results a few days earlier from Continue reading

Clean weekend 2020-05-17

Update 2020-05-22: Good Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-05-20.

Update 2020-05-21: Three Little River Landings in Swim Guide 2020-05-21.

As clean as we’ve ever seen, this last weekend, on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers.

This is from WWALS water quality testing. You can help.

Also note it is raining now in Georgia, and Tifton already got an inch of rain. So something will be coming down the rivers in the next few days. We shall see what.

[Russell Allen McBride recognizing Frank Gay, 10:08:19]
Russell Allen McBride recognizing Frank Gay, at Cook County Boat Ramp, Little River @ GA 76, 2020-05-16

We also have data from Madison Health for last Thursday, May 14, 2020, with 10 cfu/100 mL E. coli at the state line, and zero (0) at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch) and at FL 6 (just above Madison Blue Spring). Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River 2020-05-13

Update 2020-05-20: Clean weekend 2020-05-17.

Something was in the water in Okapilco Creek Monday, and at Nankin Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. But that was gone Wednesday, according to Valdosta test results. So all eight “beaches” on the Withlacoochee River that WWALS has so far listed in Swim Guide are green again.

Join us this morning upstream at Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River, where we will paddle upstream to Stone Bridge and back, keeping 6 feet apart on land and 10 feet on water.

Yes, WWALS will be testing water this weekend. You can help.

[Nankin in Swim Guide]
Nankin Boat Ramp in Swim Guide

Don’t forget to send in your comment on the GA-EPD Valdosta Consent Order. But remember, Valdosta is not the source of the recent contamination. WWALS is talking to some of the agricultural sources. Please be patient: agriculture takes months or years to fix.

Something came out of Okapilco Creek Monday. Continue reading

WWALS Trivia Online 2020-05-19

Update 2020-05-18: facebook event.

Tuesday at 7PM, May 19, 2020, you can join new WWALS board member Shelby Miller for a half hour of fun online, as she conducts the first-ever WWALS Trivia Online!

Shelby will introduce each multiple-choice question about rivers, shoals, and other things in the WWALS Watersheds, which include the entire Suwannee River Basin. You get 20 seconds to answer. Fastest right answer wins that question.

[Yay winner!]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Yay winner! Shelby Miller drawing the winning WWALS kayak raffle ticket, at Griffis Fish Camp, Suwannee River 2019-12-07

Follow this link to Register for WWALS Trivia Online.

Yes, this is different from Continue reading

Withlacoochee River Landings on Swim Guide 2020-05-14

All green this week on Swim Guide, eight landings and boat ramps on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia and Florida. There’s an app, or you can use the web interface.

[Florida]
Florida

This current good water quality is according to the results we posted yesterday.

If you’re nearby, these “beaches” (as Swim Guide calls every place somebody might swim) will probably pop up on the app. Continue reading

A clean week, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-08

Update 2020-05-16: Clean Withlacoochee River 2020-05-13.

Update 2020-05-14: Withlacoochee River Landings on Swim Guide 2020-05-14.

Last week was clean for the Withlacoochee River, and with no rain predicted, probably this weekend and the coming week, too.

Don’t forget to send in your comment on the GA-EPD Valdosta Consent Order.

But remember, Valdosta is not the source of the recent contamination. WWALS is talking to some of the agricultural sources. Please be patient: agriculture takes months or years to fix.

You can help.

[Approaching State Line Ramp --Bobby McKenzie]
Approaching State Line RampBobby McKenzie, 2020-05-10

We’ve seldom seen a week this clean. Continue reading

Raptor, flower, paddling organization, tree base: Within These WWALS #6

Many of you saw many of these things just a few days ago, or saw pictures of them taken by those who were there.

So you can answer Within These WWALS #6, using this form:

https://forms.gle/BQgTiRRThpBgWLZN8

[Bird, flower, org, base]
Bird, flower, org, base

Please answer by midnight at the end of Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Please identify (by scientific or common name) each of the items highlighted in a set of photos and then come up with the name of the WWALS waterway where all the photos were taken. The first correct set of answers wins a packet of WWALS photo notecards from that watershed, sent via postal mail from WWALS charter board member Bret Wagenhorst.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!