Government shutdown alters Okefenokee visits

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 7:08 AM
Last updated 7:05 PM
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FARGO, Ga. -- Visitors to Stephen C. Foster State Park can’t get out into the Okefenokee Swamp during the ongoing government shutdown, but they can canoe some of its water once it exits the swamp.

Stephen Foster’s lease on Jones Island inside the massive wildlife refuge ends at its boat basin. That means tour guides can’t take boats through the canal for tours on Billy’s Lake, Minnie’s Run and other swamp waterways.

The state park staff has found a substitute; a 2-hour canoe trip that begins at a private landing downstream on the Suwannee River, which forms in the Okefenokee, said Tommy Turk, regional director of state parks. After an easy 1 1/2 mile paddle, the trip ends at the Suwannee River Visitor Center at the U.S. 441 bridge in Fargo, Turk said.

The river has some of the same features as the swamp, including an abundance of alligators, but it is also unique and unlike other blackwater rivers in Georgia, Turk said.

“We wanted to use our small tour boat, but the water is too shallow for that, so we can only use canoes,’’ Turk said.

One rainstorm could change that because it’s the time of year when the water level can pop up very quickly, he said.

Suzanne Tyson said there’s been enough interest that the park has taken out a group of paddlers each day since it started the trips.

Because it starts from a private launch, a guide is required, in this case a regular tour guide well versed in the plants and animals in the blackwater river, she said.

The closure of the refuge’s waterway has hurt visitation somewhat, Turk said.

Stephen Foster’s staff has contacted people with reservations to let them know in advance that access to the swamp has been cut off, Turk said.

“We’ve had some cancellations,’’ but the abundant rainfall has made it one of the best times in years to visit Southeast Georgia streams, especially the Suwannee, he said.

“This is the first time in six years we haven’t had to close for low water,’’ he said of river and swamp tours.

The park’s boardwalk, campground and cabins are also open, he said.

The canoe trip on the Suwannee requires a separate fee. For more information call (912) 637-5274.

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southern2 10/09/13 - 07:33 am
Shutdown is proving just how

Shutdown is proving just how much of our nation is under government control and entangled in our everyday lives and activities. No reason "OUR" DC open air monuments are under seize by the Obama Regime.

Why did Obama permit illegal aliens to rally on the National Mall while keeping US citizens and veterans from visiting the WWII Memorial?

It is unprecedented in our history to have a president who despises half of the people he represents and I'm not real sure he is that fond of the other half.

soapy_725 10/09/13 - 07:45 am
Cancer Month? Totalitarian Government Cancer is #1

Cancer Month? Totalitarian Government Cancer is #1

seenitB4 10/09/13 - 08:53 am

I agree....we are seeing how much of our land & movement is under gov control & that doesn't have to be...crazy & insane for normal activities in the control of DC....we need to change some of these functions asap..

Just one little item standing in the way....we need a President who feels the same way.

nocnoc 10/09/13 - 09:51 am
Government shutdown alters Okefenokee visits???

Stephen C. Foster park is a

State Park

Please explain how a STATE PARK is affected by a FEDERAL Shutdown ... I seemed to of missed that part in the story posted at Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 7:08 AM.

It sounds more like A WATER LEVEL ISSUE than a shutdown issue?

Sweet son
Sweet son 10/09/13 - 11:44 am
Hey guys!!!

Just another way we can defeat our nasty president (notice lower case) at his game and that is what it is a game.

The American business types and people need to keep coming up with ways around his dictatorial hurtful actions and keep on doing things we want to do.

Keep showing the federal govt how little they are needed and how little they could get by with!!!!!

rmwhitley 10/09/13 - 06:06 pm

punishing Americans. Sick!

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