WRWT Fact Sheet

What is a Water Trail?

  • Water equivalent of a hiking trail.
  • Blueways, canoe trails, and paddle trails are all water trails.
  • It has access points along the river, like trailheads, for putting boats on the water or taking them off.
  • Suitable for day-trips in canoes and kayaks.
  • Water trails can be various lengths and are used by paddlers, anglers, hikers and picnickers of all ages and ability.
  • The Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail also includes lakes, ponds, and cypress swamps, and links to hiking trails.

Tourism and Economic Growth

  • The outdoor recreation industry provides 6.1 million American jobs, $646 billion in spending each year, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue, and $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue.
  • In Georgia, approximately 1 million paddlers participate in the sport.
  • More than 23 billion dollars is spent in the state on outdoor recreation.
  • Communities throughout Georgia and Florida are realizing the economic benefits of highlighting their waterways.
  • In 2002, the estimated effect of visitors to the Chattooga River was $2.6 million, with 60 jobs being supported by river recreation.

Recreation

  • Paddling is an easy outdoor activity for many types of people, yet can be as strenuous as active athletes can make it.
  • The recent America’s Great Outdoors Initiative in 2010 found that Americans want access to their rivers, lakes and streams.
  • Communities benefit from increased recreation and tourism in their town.

Conservation

  • Paddlers see the conditions of the river and become advocates for clean water.
  • The river teaches paddlers about wildlife habitat, invasive species, and water quality.
  • Protections that can help keep the river clean can include improved zoning and buffer requirements, improved storm water practices, prevention of new water quality threats, and enforcement of water quality laws.

Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WRWT)

  • The Little River part of the Water Trail begins at Kinard Bridge Road in Cook County, Georgia and runs 57.5 miles between Cook and Colquitt Counties, then between Brooks and Lowndes Counties, to the Withlacoochee River.
    The Withlacoochee River part begins at GA 37 in Cook and Berrien Counties, and runs 98 miles through those counties, then Lowndes, then bordering Brooks County, to the Suwannee River in Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida.
  • The WRWT includes nine access points on the Little River (including four boat ramps), fifteen access points on the Withlacoochee River (including nine boat ramps), and one on the Suwannee River (also a boat ramp), for 25 total. Most of the boat ramps have information kiosks. Madison Blue Spring State Park in Florida and Reed-Bingham State Park in Georgia have a variety of amenities, plus in Florida Twin Rivers State Forest, numerous Suwannee River Water Management District lands, and copious springs in and near the river. In addition, there are access points at numerous lakes, ponds, and cypress swamps, including Paradise Lake Public Fishing Area in Berrien County, Georgia.
  • The Little River begins with creeks in Turner, Worth, Tift, and Colquitt Counties, and forms the border between Colquitt* and Cook* and then Brooks* and Lowndes* Counties.
    The Withlacoochee River begins in Tift County and then runs through Berrien County. Its tributary the New River and later the Withlacoochee itself forms the border between Cook* and Berrien*. The Withlacoochee runs through Lowndes* before forming the border between Brooks* and Lowndes*, then between Madison* and Hamilton* Counties in Florida where it flows into the Suwannee River across from Suwannee* County.
    * Counties featured on the WRWT.
  • The Little River has one dam at Reed-Bingham State Park, while the Withlacoochee River is a free-flowing coastal plain river, starting in Georgia and flowing to the Suwannee River in Florida. Both are blackwater rivers, whose tea-colored waters and banks support many plants and animals, including endangered and threatened species, running above the Floridan Aquifer which provides drinking water for various cities and is an industrial and agricultural water supply for the region.

Take Home Points:

  • Water trails have many benefits for relatively little investment.
  • Water trails can help diversify local economies.
  • Many Georgia and Florida communities are already taking advantage of the benefits water trails.

What Can I Do to Help?

  • Encourage the adoption of local resolutions to support the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.
  • Share your pictures and come paddle with us!
  • Join the WRWT Committee!
  • Conduct a river cleanup or come help on one organized by WWALS.
  • Report on invasive species.
  • Alert us of hazards or access issues along the rivers.
  • Promote the WRWT to friends, family, and visitors, too!
  • Become a sponsor of an informational sign or kiosk for the WRWT.

Resources:

Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA) lists many water trails in Florida, including the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. The ARWT printed brochure was inspired by the one for the Gilchrist BlueWay Trail.

Georgia River Network’s Water Trails Clearinghouse has information about all established and developing water trails in Georgia. (www.gawatertrails.org), including the Ocmulgee River Blueway from Macon to the Altamaha River, the 138-mile long Altamaha Canoe Trail, the SE Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, and the Okefenokee Canoe Trail.

Wagenhorst, J. (2013). Water trails for economic benefit. Letter to Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 4 February 2013. http://www.l-a-k-e.org/blog/2013/02/water-trails-for-economic-benefit-bret-wagenhorst.html

Beedle, J. (2008). North Carolina State Trails Program: 2008 Paddle Tourism Study. http://www.ncparks.gov/About/docs/paddle_report.pdf Accessed June 4, 2013.

Bowker, J., D. English, and H. Cordell. (1999). Outdoor recreation participation and consumption: projections 2000 to 2050. Outdoor recreation in American life: A national assessment of demand and supply trends. Champagne (IL): Segamore Press Inc.: 323‐350.

Kline, C., Cardenas, D., Duffy, L., & Swanson, J. R. (2012). Funding sustainable paddle trail development: paddler perspectives, willingness to pay and management implications. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 20(2), 235-256.

Nadel, R. (2005). Economic Impacts of Parks, Rivers, Trails and Greenways Unpublished Master’s Thesis. University of Michigan.

Marcouiller, D., K. Kim, and S. Deller. (2005). Natural amenities and rural development: Understanding spatial and distributional attributes. Growth and Change 36:273‐297.

Moore, Roger L., and Christos Siderelis. (2003). Use and Economic Importance of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. Prepared for American Rivers, Inc. and Park Planning and Special Studies and Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Programs of The National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/portals/rivers/projpg/chatt.pdf. Accessed May 4, 2013.

Outdoor Industry Association. (2002). Outdoor Recreation Participation & Spending Study: A State‐by‐State Perspective. http://www.outdoorindustry.org. Accessed June 4, 2013.

Outdoor Industry Association. (2012). The Outdoor Recreation Economy Report. http://www.outdoorindustry.org/pdf/OIA_OutdoorRecEconomyReport2012.pdf. Accessed June 4, 2013.

For more information please visit
http://www.wwals.net/maps/withlacoochee-river-water-trail/
or wwalswatershed@gmail.com