By Doug Alderson, Apalachicola Riverkeeper Director of Outreach & Advocacy
Eight people braved cold temperatures on Saturday, January 22nd, to clean up three launch areas in the Chipola watershed in Jackson County: Magnolia Bridge, Spring Creek launch, and Yancey Bridge. The Spring Creek launch area was the most challenging with a significant amount of trash in thick brush, likely washed in from the parking area. The dynamic group kept their spirits up with good humor and hot tea and cocoa provided by Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman. Many thanks to volunteers Karen Lehnert, Scott Wilder, Angie Riviere, Ben Rangel, Helena Safron and Apalachicola Riverkeeper board member David Hilton of Marianna.
After the cleanup, five people took a cave tour in Florida Caverns State Park with an enthusiastic guide, Mr. Lou. The cave was in great shape with new lighting and I couldn’t remember a better tour. In fact, the park has done amazing work since Hurricane Michael destroyed about 90 percent of the tree canopy. When I entered the park while with DEP about three days after the storm, we climbed over fallen trees and couldn’t even see the entrance road in places, but we were relieved when we found the Civilian Conservation Corps statue and visitor’s center intact. Now, downed trees have been removed and all facilities, including the campground, are open. The forest will be slow to recover, but it will recover.
One highlight for me was having Helena Safron along, a former summer camp student of mine from the Tallahassee Museum in the 1990s. I asked her when she had last been on the cave tour and she said it was with me in summer camp. She was about twelve years old at the time! It’s fun when things come full circle.
Our next cleanup in the upper Apalachicola River watershed is at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee February 12.