HAHIRA — From the next-to-the-largest Suwannee River Basin city — Valdosta — to between some of the smallest — Mayo and Luraville — Paddle Georgia will bring 300 paddlers this summer to venture for the first time across the state line from Georgia to Florida on the Little, Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers, June 15-21.

“Five years ago, I suggested our Withlacoochee River to Joe Cook for Paddle Georgia, and he went one better, adding the Suwannee River, past two of the few second-magnitude springs in Georgia — McIntyre and Arnold — and two of the famous first-magnitude Florida Springs: Madison Blue and Lafayette,” Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said of the Paddle Georgia summer event. “Plus Spook Bridge and the orphaned railroad trestle near Madison, with many shoals and rapids at the Georgia-Florida line.

“Special thanks to the Langdale Company for permission to take out just below Spook Bridge. Personally, I like that this paddle starts at my birthplace in Valdosta and ends at my grandmother’s birthplace at the ferry site for Luraville, Fla.”

The event is organized by Paddle Georgia, with catered dinners and buses to and from the rivers. The Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Suwannee Watershed is assisting by, for example, organizing the Spook Bridge takeout and by pointing out many sites that non-locals might miss, ranging from springs, Withlacoochee River agates, and the halberd-leaf rosemallow, whose blooms last only one day; to perpetual bothers such as Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant; the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, and Duke Energy’s Suwannee Power Plant.

For more detail, see http://wwals.net/?p=48289. For prices and registration see the Paddle Georgia web page.

Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition Inc. advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. 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.

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