Tag Archives: fishing

More than 30 groups organize to save Okefenokee Swamp 2020-07-14

See also Suwannee Riverkeeper’s call last month for people to contact the Georgia governor and other elected officials.

[Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)]
Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also )

MORE THAN 30 GROUPS ORGANIZE TO SAVE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

[OPA Logo]
OPA Logo

GEORGIA (July 14, 2020) More than 30 national, state, and local organizations have joined forces in the fight to protect the Okefenokee Swamp. The new coalition, known as the Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA), recently formed in response to a new and alarming threat to the Okefenokee in the form of proposed heavy mineral sands mining adjacent to the swamp.

In July 2019, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, submitted a permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) seeking authorization to mine the first phase of what would eventually become a 12,000-acre project abutting the southeast corner of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

After the Corps was deluged with letters opposing the project, Twin Pines withdrew that application and submitted a second application to excavate a roughly 900-acre first phase of the mine. The Corps is now weighing whether to approve that second application. Twin Pines must also secure permission from the state of Georgia.

“The new Okefenokee Protection Alliance is the first collaborative effort to have an exclusive focus on the protection of what is arguably our country’s healthiest remaining wetland of significance,” says Christian Hunt, Southeast Program Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Everyone came together because of Twin Pines’ permit application, but by design we intend to be active over the long-term and address the present threat that we are dealing with today, as well as future threats that stand to compromise the Okefenokee.”

This week, the Okefenokee Protection Alliance introduced a new website and began urging citizens to write Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, asking him to protect Southeast Georgia’s international natural treasure.

“Just as we have reached out to folks to call on the Corps, we are reaching out to folks to call on Governor Kemp because it is not just the Corps that has a say,” says Rena Peck, Executive Director of the Georgia River Network. “We want Governor Kemp to stand with his constituents and all the citizens in Georgia who are concerned about the mine and ask the Corps for an Environmental Impact Statement.”

The Okefenokee has a long history of support from Georgia leaders. A similar proposal to mine near the Swamp in the 1990s was stopped when Gov. Zell Miller and others spoke out against it; in the 1970s, W.S. “Bill” Stuckey, Jr. who represented the 8th District of Georgia in Congress, successfully fought to designate portions of the swamp as a National Wilderness Area.

Stuckey, now a resident of the Georgia coast, said recently, “I’m hopeful that Governor Kemp will step in to protect the Okefenokee Wilderness and stop the mine.”

OPA member organizations and federal agencies have expressed concerns that the mine could alter the hydrology of the area and impair the movement and storage of water within the swamp, the St. Marys and Suwannee rivers and the Floridan Aquifer.

This could lead to an increased risk of uncontrollable wildfires and impact access to the swamp for boating, fishing, birding, hunting and photography. Pollution from the mining operation could also impact the health of groundwater and surface water.

The Floridan Aquifer, which lies beneath the swamp, is the water source for all of south Georgia and most of Florida, and feeds many springs in the region, which are already adversely affected by overpumping. Thus, anything that affects the swamp or the aquifer could have far-reaching consequences.

Continue reading

Video: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols Radio 2020-06-23

On the Steve Nichols radio show we talked about how song submissions are open until July 8, 2020, for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. We also talked about fishing, bacterial contamination and mercury in the rivers, coal plants, solar power, and upcoming WWALS outings on Banks Lake and the Suwannee River.

[Flyer]
Flyer

Tickets to listen to the finalists play 7-9PM Saturday, August, 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA, are $10 online (children under 12 free) or $12 at the door. For VIP tables send email to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

The Steve Nichols show was the first to reveal the judges are selected. Continue reading

Watching over the Waters: WWALS paddles, songwriting contest –VDT 2020-06-27

Amanda M. Usher, Valdosta Daily Times, 27 June 2020, Watching over the Waters: WWALS sponsors paddles, songwriting contest,

[Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, between Quitman and Valdosta, GA, Withlacoochee River, June 15, 2019.

VALDOSTA — John Quarterman has been around the Suwannee River Basin since his childhood.

Living on land his [grand-]father purchased near rivers and swamps in 1921, he has always felt attracted to rivers and works to keep them clean.

Quarterman is the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper with WWALS Watershed Coalition. WWALS is an acronym for Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little[, Santa Fe,] and Suwannee.

The coalition was established in June 2012 to eliminate issues with rivers and creeks such as sewage spills, he said. Quarterman became the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper in 201[6].

WWALS Watershed Coalition serves a significant purpose of water quality testing, he said. The City of Valdosta tests waters three times a week from U.S. 41 North to the southern state line, he said.

Through the years, the group has hosted cleanups at the Troupville boat ramp and holds two or three paddles monthly.

[Lakeland cleanup, Alapaha River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Rivers Alive Cleanup, Pafford’s Landing near Lakeland, GA, Alapaha River, October 12, 2019.

“We’re not just a paddling organization,” Quarterman said. “… We do paddles, but we’re also an advocacy organization. We want to do conservation of stewardship.”

Quarterman is about awareness. He strives to bring attention to the rivers’ existence and informing people they can make use of the recreational rivers by boating or fishing.

“Getting people out there on the rivers to see what it is they are trying to conserve and protect is really important because until you see it for yourself, you’re not really appreciating the beauty of these rivers,” he said.

The rest of the article is about the upcoming paddle outings at Banks Lake at 7:30 PM Sunday, July 5, and at Dowling Park River Camp; for that one please be at Dowling Park Boat Ramp a 11:30 AM, Saturday, July 18, with camping gear.

The article concludes with the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 7-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at Turner Center Art Park, 605 N. Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA.

Come on down!

Thanks Amanda M. Usher, for Continue reading

Comment now: TPM mine drains to Okefenokee Swamp, Rivers Styx, St. Marys, Suwannee, Georgia and Florida 2020-04-10

Comment by this Monday, April 13, 2020, if you don’t want any of these creeks, rivers, or the Okefenokee Swamp affected by this strip mine, or the Floridan Aquifer, in Georgia or in Florida.

The Twin Pines Minerals strip mine site drains west from Trail Ridge into the River Styx, into the Okefenokee Swamp, and to the St. Marys River, which becomes the border between Georgia and Florida. On the east, it drains into Boone Creek and into the St. Marys River. If it affects the Swamp, it will affect the Suwannee River, which runs through Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

[River Styx]
River Styx

Please go ahead and tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why you don’t want this strip mine near the Swamp.

You can also ask for an extension of the public comment deadline, and for public hearings in Georgia and Florida. Here is the Suwannee Riverkeeper extension and hearings request for WWALS.

The Rule the Corps is following for comments says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can require any other affected state to comment. So you can ask EPA to ask Florida to comment. Here is our request for that. Here’s a simple version you can use:

[Your Name or Your Organization Name] requests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to 33 CFR § 325.2, (b), regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 to determine that the mining activities of the subject Application may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida and to notify the state of Florida, the district engineer, and the applicant that Florida ‘has 60 days from receipt of EPA’s notice to determine if the proposed discharge will affect the quality of its waters so as to violate any water quality requirement in such state, to notify EPA and the district engineer in writing of its objection to permit issuance, and to request a public hearing.’

The inset map is from Figure 66 in the TPM application. TPM didn’t label the waterways, but that’s the River Styx where it says MSW-1, and Boone Creek where it says MSW-4. Both lead to the St. Marys River, which becomes the Georgia-Florida state line. The River Styx joins the St. Marys in the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River. Continue reading

Request comment deadline extension and public hearings about titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Army Corps 2020-03-19

We urge everyone else to also send the Army Corps a comment letter asking for an extension of the comment deadline and for public hearings.

For more things you can do to oppose this bad mining application, see How to Comment.

[Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The TPM mine is marked in the right center by the highlighted crossed hammers,
due north of the line of four Chemours titanium mines in north Florida.

Below is the text of the letter WWALS just sent to the Corps as a PDF.

March 19, 2020

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

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

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Alabama, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to extend the public comment period and to hold public hearings, as detailed at the end of this letter.

Review of the current 219-page Application and the hundreds of pages of appendices is not practicable in Continue reading

Water fast and dirty at Nankin Boat Ramp after Valdosta record sewage spill 2019-12-26

2019-12-28: High E. coli at state line in Florida DOH water quality data 2019-12-24.

At Nankin Thursday: 533 cfu/100 mL E. coli, well above the state limit of 200, and up from 33 on December 15, and zero on December 11 and 8 and November 23.

Florida already saw elevated bacterial counts at the state line on Tuesday, so the Withlacoochee River is apparently contaminated with Valdosta sewage all the way from Sugar Creek down to the Florida line. Yet Valdosta still hasn’t put up any warning signs on the Withlacoochee River downstream from Sugar Creek.

[Across]
Across

That December 26th reading by Suzy Hall at Nankin Boat Ramp isn’t as high as her recent numbers at Knights Ferry: 6,767 on December 24 and 4,966 on December 21st (with 100 on December 15th and zero on December 11th). Nonetheless, it looks like Valdosta’s sewage has spread downstream from Knights Ferry to Nankin.

At 533 cfu/100 ml, you probably don’t want to get that river water on you. Georgia standards indicate Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp on GWC Dirty Dozen because Titanium Mine 2019-11-14

Announced yesterday to press across Georgia and beyond, the titanium mine near Georgia and Florida’s Okefenokee Swamp proposed by Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama made the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen (see also PDF).

You can still file a comment with the Army Corps and GA-EPD asking them to reject the mine or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement. Convenience for miners is no excuse to risk the fishing, boating, and birding in the swamp and hunting and forestry nearby.

[Closeup]
Closeup of TPM equipment on mine site from GA 94 westbound.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, November 14, 2019

2019’s
Worst Offenses Against
GEORGIA’S WATER
OKEFENOKEE SWAMP, ST. MARYS AND SUWANNEE RIVERS

Proposed 2,400-Acre Titanium Mine Threatens Signature Landscape of Georgia

INTRODUCTION:

Twenty years ago when chemical giant DuPont proposed mining titanium dioxide ore near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposition to the plan was so strong— Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida passes resolution against titanium mine application near Okefenokee Swamp

Waterkeepers Florida asks the Army Corps to require Twin Pines Minerals to supply all the information missing from its application for a titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to hold Public Hearings, including in Florida, and “to answer how the Corps has or will determine that the Applicant’s proposed mine would not adversely affect the Okefenokee Swamp, the St. Marys River, the Suwannee River, the Floridan Aquifer, or the State of Florida.”

You can also still comment to the Army Corps.

[TPM Equipment closeup, Wayne Morgan]
TPM Equipment closeup Photo: Wayne Morgan for Suwannee Riverkeeper on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

WCTV on mining proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge 2019-08-21

“Because of the coal plants in Georgia, there’s mercury deposition on the surface of the ground for years. If they go stir all that up, that could run in to the swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman. “Why should we risk the Okefenokee, its boating, its fishing, its birding.”

Quoted by a reporter based in Valdosta, GA for WCTV in Tallahassee, FL, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 21 August 2019, Heavy mining facility proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

[Sign]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Okefenokee NWR Entrance Sign, 2019-07-18

…Last week the Charlton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for the project. County officials said the reason is because Charlton County does not have many industry opportunities of its own, and many residents leave to surrounding counties for work. officials said the 150 jobs created from the project could be beneficial to the county.

The Okefenokee Swamp is the headwater for the Suwannee River, which is why community members across the region are fighting the proposal, saying it could have consequences in both states.

In the proposal, the Continue reading