Monthly Archives: August 2020

WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-08-29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

[Award and Cleanup]
Award and Cleanup

The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole. Continue reading

Good downstream, but recurring GA 133, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-27

Update 2020-09-01: Valdosta concurs last week, but not week before, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-28

The good news: all WWALS results for Thursday were good downstream on the Withlacoochee River, and for Tuesday from Madison Health. So as far as we can tell, happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend on the Withlacoochee River.

The bad news: something is still getting into the Withlacoochee River above GA 133, and it does not seem related to rainfall. This bad news has been going on too long. It really needs to be resolved for the Troupville River Park.

[Good Troupville, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line Boat Ramps; bad GA 133]
Good Troupville, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line Boat Ramps; bad GA 133

Thursday (yesterday) I sampled at Continue reading

Creek Cleanup or Bike and Paddle 2020-08-29

Tomorrow (Saturday) you can choose between a cleanup on two creeks in Valdosta, GA, or a bike and paddle outing on the Suwannee River in Lafayette and Suwannee Counties, FL. There’s no shuttle on either of them, and plenty of room to maintain physical distance.

OK, just one, because the bike and paddle is canceled due to “the Weather Channel reporting 80% chance of severe weather.” We look forward to seeing you on future outings.

Follow the links below for the details of each event.

[Cleanup or Paddle]
Cleanup or Paddle

I’d like to do both, but my teleporter is broken. So I’ll be at the cleanup.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Pictures: Troupville River Camp site –Gretchen Quarterman 2020-08-27

Yesterday the Detail Group convened at Troupville Boat Ramp to see the site of the proposed Troupville River Park.

[Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), George Page (VLPRA), Mac McCall (Architect), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), Tom Baird (Archaeologist) at Troupville Boat Ramp]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), George Page (VLPRA), Mac McCall (Architect), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), Tom Baird (Archaeologist) at Troupville Boat Ramp

A larger Steering Group is meeting weekly to update and resubmit last year’s application for a grant to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a Troupville River Camp. This year we have strong buy in from Lowndes County, the City of Valdosta, three local Authorities (Parks & Rec., Tourism, and Development), the Chamber of Commerce, McCall Architects, ASA Engineering, Valdosta Disc Golf, and others. Suwannee River Water Management District has already been participating. The local Georgia statehouse delegation was on last week’s call, as was the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR). Key to all of this is 74 acres for sale by Helen Tapp of Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), below Troupville Boat Ramp down to the Little River Confluence, to be combined with the existing 49-acre VLPRA park, to create a 123-acre Troupville River Park. If you or your organization are interested in helping with this nature preserve and multi-use park, please let us know.

[Concept Plan by ASA Engineering (rotated and trimmed)]
Concept Plan by ASA Engineering (rotated and trimmed)

Yesterday we looked to see where hiking, biking, and horse trails might go, to see fishing spots along the Little River, to look at the Little River Confluence, where a Viewscape Pavilion can go.

[Withlacoochee River comes in from left, continues ahead]
Withlacoochee River comes in from left, continues ahead

We considered stairs or ramp for boaters to take out of the Withlacoochee River, to look at invasive plants and native palmettos, big oaks, and pines upstream, along with deadfalls and switchbacks. Then we went inland to see where to put bathrooms, dining pavillion, and sleeping platforms for Troupville River Camp.

[Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), Mark Gaither (Disc Golf), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Baird (Archaeologist), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering, Mac McCall (Architect), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), George Page (VLPRA)]
Chad McLeod (Lowndes County), Mark Gaither (Disc Golf), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Baird (Archaeologist), Jason Scarpate (ASA Engineering, Mac McCall (Architect), Tom H. Johnson Jr. (WWALS President), George Page (VLPRA)

We walked up the big discovery by ASA Engineering last November of old Broad Street, the main north-south street and highway of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat until 1860, before Valdosta.

To see where the Championship Disc Golf Course could go, we walked down the Power line right of way and the Old Valdosta sewer line near the Withlacoochee River, below the Georgia 133 bridge over the Withlacoochee River.

Later, I went back and established that the apparent East-west road does indeed go through from the Little River to the Crossroads with Broad Street. I didn’t have much luck finding a road through east to the Withlacoochee River, but I did find a Nice hunting spot on the river, more than one Gopher hole, and got pictures of more of the old Valdosta sewer line easement where a Disc Golf fairway can go.

Many of these pictures are by Continue reading

Special SRWMD Board meeting 2020-08-27

The Suwannee River Water Management District is holding a Governing Board meeting tomorrow (Thursday) morning, even though apparently Don Quincey’s term has expired, so they will not have a quorum.

Last year they already had an episode where the SRWMD could not approve a budget because of lack of a quorum, until the governor finally got around to appointing enough to have six of nine board slots filled.

Even before Quincey fell off, the board members for the most populous locations were vacant: Upper Suwannee Basin (including the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers), Santa Fe and Waccassasa Basins, and Aucilla Basin.

At the last SRWMD meeting, the Chair told me that each board member represents the entire District. That’s a nice fantasy, but many people have not observed SRWMD to actually work like that.

[Three Vacant Board Slots]
Three Vacant Board Slots

On the SRWMD online calendar, Remote Audit Committee & Supplemental Governing Board Meeting,

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Those who would like to participate in the Governing Board meeting are able to register on GoTo Webinar at https://bit.ly/2FFwuy8. A confirmation email with a link to join the GoTo Webinar will be sent after registration. To join the webinar, click “Join Webinar” in the confirmation email that you receive after registration. For any members of the public who wish to call-in to listen to the meeting or provide public comment to the Governing Board, call-in at 1-888-585-9008, then enter conference room number 704-019-452. You will be able to hear the proceedings there. Please do not use speakerphone or put your phone on hold. Please be aware that your call will be muted automatically when you join the call-in number. During the conference call, the Chair will instruct the public when the time for public comment will be allowed. To unmute your line, please press *2 on your touch dial phone. Submit a public comment request prior to the meeting at www.srwmd.org/Comments.

Date: August 27, 2020

Time: 9:00 AM

Time Details: Governing Board Meeting to follow Audit Committee Meeting

Location: District Headquarters

Address: 9225 CR 49
Live Oak, FL 32060

Link: Webinar Registration Link

Remember that if you want to comment during the meeting you must sign up not only for the webinar, but also separately to make a comment.

I am hosting a large group of people at 9AM tomorrow, but if you can attend and comment, please do.

Thanks to Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson for the heads-up.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Pictures: Suwannee River, Dowling Park River Camp 2020-07-18

Bobby McKenzie organized kayak and canoe camping on Saturday July 18, 2020, from Dowling Park Boat Ramp across the Suwannee River and slightly upstream to Dowling Park River Camp and then a bit upstream past Dowling Park Christian Village to a Party beach. Here are some pictures of that much of the expedition.

[Stairs, Platform, Beach, Bathrooms: Dowling Park River Camp]
Stairs, Platform, Beach, Bathrooms: Dowling Park River Camp

Later I’ll post the pictures of the further upstream adventure only three boaters dared to brave.

These pictures concentrate on Dowling Park River Camp, which is the model for the proposed Troupville River Camp just west of Valdosta, Georgia, between the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers.

[Banners on the stairs, 2020:07:18 17:21:28, 30.2464159, -83.2460987]
Banners on the stairs, 2020:07:18 17:21:28, 30.2464159, -83.2460987

There’s also a Google Map showing the approximate locations of these pictures on the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Continue reading

Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Winners and excellent music from the judges and headliner, too, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, GA, August 24, 2020 — Everyone went away happy. The finalists got prizes, and the audience was impressed with the song each judge played, and with the headliner. The audience was impressed that one contestant, who couldn’t come due to the virus pandemic, was projected on the bandstand via zoom anyway.

[Winners*: Brian Barker* via zoom, accepting for, Scott Perkins*, Laura D'Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)]
Winners*: Brian Barker via zoom*, accepting for him, Scott Perkins*, Laura D’Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Sweet William Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)

The winners are: Continue reading

Pitcher plants, GA 31, Grand Bay –Gretchen Quarterman on WCTV 2020-08-21

Hooded Pitcher Plants are the answer to Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton’s question to the Georgia Department of Transportation as to why the ditches were not being mowed on GA 31 between Valdosta and Lakeland.

Amber Spradley, WCTV, at GA 31 and Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA), August 22, 2020, GDOT discovers rare plants ahead of road project,

[Clockwise: Amber Spradley, Gretchen Quarterman, potted pitcher plants, Hooded Pitcher Plants]
Clockwise: Amber Spradley, Gretchen Quarterman, potted pitcher plants, Hooded Pitcher Plants

Gretchen Quarterman, a 10-year “Master Gardener” and the executive director of WWALS Watershed Coalition, tells WCTV Hooded Pitchers live in nutrient-poor bogs, or wetlands. They trap and consume insects to obtain nutrients for survival.

Continue reading

Yes, today! Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

Yes, we’re on for this evening for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest!

The rain is predicted to stop well before the show starts at 7 PM. So come on down to the Turner Center Art Park and hear our headliner, Dirty Bird and the Flu, our three judges will play a song, and the finalists will play for you and the judges! Scott James of 92.1 FM talk radio will be the M.C.

Somebody will win the $300 First Prize, and the other prizes.

[First Prize, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest]
First Prize, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

The Contest Finals are today, 7-9 PM, August 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia 31601.

Tickets are still available online for $10 until 4PM.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/third-annual-suwannee-riverkeeper-songwriting-contest-finals-tickets-110284875030

Or at the door for $12 at the door (children under 12 free).

Bring your own chairs and tables if you can. We will have some, but if you can bring your own, that will be great.

There’s plenty of room to have tables spaced apart. We will have spots marked, with aisles in between. We will be requiring masks when you go up to the WWALS information tables or close to others not in your group. If you don’t have a mask, don’t worry: we brought a bunch. We will be using our infrared thermometer to check for fever as people come in.

Please park at the Turner Center for the Arts, and walk north across the side street to the Art Park. The Turner Center asks please nobody park or drive on the grass.

You can register now for the silent auction online.
https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-suwanneeriverkeepersongwritingcontestandsilentauction

We’ve had some nice donations and hope that you will consider bidding generously. Or if you don’t see anything you want to bid on, perhaps you’d make a one time donation or become a regular monthly donor at:
https://www.gagives.org/organization/Wwals-Watershed-Coalition

We will have a “mini booth” with caps, stickers, posters, etc available. Stop by and get involved with our clean water initiatives. We appreciate all of our regular donors, our members, our sponsors, and YOU, and look forward to seeing you Saturday night.

Kayak raffle tickets will be available for the drawing in December, or you can get those online as well.
https://wwals.net/?p=53215

Food will be by Rico’s Tacos’ food truck. Drinks will be provided by the Pour House.

Our top-tier sponsor, Georgia Beer Company, will say a few words, as will our host, the Turner Arts Center, and several WWALS people will speak about programs, projects, stewardship, and advocacy. Each elected official present will get three minutes to speak on any subject; just remember it’s a festival.

For much more, follow this link:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-08-22–songwriting/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Looking clean downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-20

Update 2020-08-28: Good downstream, but recurring GA 133, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-27

WWALS testing Thursday got excellent results at State Line Boat Ramp: zero (0) cfu/100 mL E. coli, and only 33 at Nankin and Knights Ferry Boat Ramps. We have nothing new from Valdosta since Monday’s data, and nothing from Florida since Thursday a week ago. But the WWALS data says that so far as we know, the Withlacoochee River is good for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. this weekend.

[Fishing, map, charts, pictures]
Fishing, map, charts, pictures

There was no significant rain, except far up on the Little River at Tifton, and upriver on the Alapaha at Alapaha, Georgia.

[Looking clean, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line]
Looking clean, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality testing results and rainfall, see: https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

So apparently nothing nasty washed into the Withlacoochee River, and State Line, Nankin, and Knights Ferry Boat Ramps are green on Swim Guide. I’ve left all the other Withlacoochee and Little River “beaches” Continue reading