City sponsors Earth Day Cleanup at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River

Celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day by helping clean up Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Saturday morning, April 18, 2020. Afterwards, those who want to can paddle down the Withlacoochee River to Nankin Boat Ramp, cleaning up on the water. This event is the first ever sponsored by WWALS, Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia.

“Through this clean up effort we think we’ve found a way to create synergy around environmental stewardship with groups such as ‘Citizens of Georgia Power.’ WWALS and the City of Valdosta to make sure our waterways are clean and also make sure the public has access to the area’s wonderful natural resources such as the Withlacoochee River,” said Joe Brownlee, Southwest Regional Director for Georgia Power.

The cleanup is free and starts at 8 AM, Saturday, April 18, 2020. The site is Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 6499 Knights Ferry Rd, Valdosta, GA 31601, in Lowndes County, Georgia. From I-75 Southbound, take Exit 16, turn right onto US 84, then left onto Rocky Ford Road, then right onto Knights Ferry Road, and continue to the end of the road. 

“We’ll bring as many participants as we can, and I’ll be promoting this event on my radio station, Talk 92.1 FM,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson.

The paddle is free to WWALS members, and $10 per person for non-members. At 10 AM WWALS will shuttle most vehicles down to Nankin Boat Ramp, with everybody piling into a few cars to return to Knights Ferry. The paddle will start at 11 AM. The paddle is 6.6 miles, so even with clean up, it should take about 3.5 hours, leaving plenty of time before dark to clean up at Nankin. If you don’t have a boat, let WWALS know in advance, and they may be able to provide one.

“WWALS welcomes this widespread cooperation about our rivers. Maybe we can turn this into a series, with the next cleanup and paddle in Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

If your city, county, company, or other organization would like to co-sponsor this cleanup and paddle, let WWALS know. Co-sponsoring can mean anything from helping get the word out to financial contributions. And new co-sponsors will be a good reason for more press releases.

“We would be pleased to co-sponsor and assist with promoting the event on our Brooks County FB page, and to recruit some participation to represent us,” said Jessica J. McKinney, Brooks County Administrator. 

“Like our BIG Little River Paddle Race fundraiser coming up the following Saturday, this Knights Ferry event, like all WWALS cleanups and paddles, is primarily an opportunity to get out on our rivers and leave them cleaner than we found them,” said WWALS Outings Chair Bobby McKenzie.

“We hope to be able to take down our Caution signs for bacterial levels before then. Thanks to WWALS and other testing by the city of Valdosta, Lowndes County, and three Florida agencies, now we know when our rivers are clean and when they are not. And we’re narrowing down the sources of contamination. No, the recent contamination has not been coming from Valdosta,” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall.

“We will reprint and replant our pair of metal Water Trail signs at Knights Ferry before the cleanup. And maybe all this good activity at Knights Ferry will convince people to stop stealing our signs!” said WWALS Water Trails Committee Chair Dan Phillips.

Backup: In case of low or high water, weather, or bacterial contamination, we will have to cancel.

“On our website are many opportunities to sponsor WWALS events, water trail signs, and brochures, or water quality test kits, or to become a member. Materials and advocacy and staff time cost money, and we hope our outings and advocacy benefit you, so maybe you would like to help,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.


Bobby McKenzie, 808-445-4503,

John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper®
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632