A company called Mayfield Natural Resources, LLC, has applied for a special use permit to open a new gravel quarry in Hancock Co. Ogeechee Riverkeeper and the citizens in the area have a number of concerns regarding this proposed quarry.
This proposed quarry would pose an everlasting threat to the health of our basin, based on its proximity to Fulsome Creek and the Ogeechee River. Additionally, citizens in the area are reliant on groundwater for drinking.
Within a few miles of the proposed site are multiple small businesses in the agricultural and tourism industries that would be negatively impacted by quarry blasting and heavy equipment.
Mayfield Properties, a community of 50 low-income families and home to ~150 individuals, is located directly across from the proposed location.
The additional infrastructure expenses incurred by the county will add additional expenses and reduce property tax revenue due to depressed property values.
These types of quarries have a history of struggling to manage silica dust and sedimentation.
There is a lack of information on company’s experience and qualifications in operating gravel quarries.
The Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers are considered ‘blackwater’ rivers.
A blackwater river is typically a slow-moving waterway flowing through forests, swamps, or wetlands. As vegetation decays, tannins seep into the ground water or drain into lakes and streams, making a transparent, acidic water that is darkly stained, resembling black tea. Because of this blackwater rivers typically have a lower (more acidic) pH level.
Tannins are found commonly in the bark of trees, wood, leaves, buds, stems, fruits, seeds, and roots, and help to protect the individual plant species. For example, tannins stored in the bark of trees protect the tree from being infected by bacteria or fungi. Similar properties are extended to the waterways as it seeps into the river.
Additionally, less light penetration due to the darker water colors, means these waterways generally have less vegetation in the water. However, algae blooms can happen when there is a drought, which lowers the water level and allows sunlight to reach the bottom of the riverbed.
Tannins are also found in wine, tea, and berries, and are safe for human consumption. Historians note that early colonists and mariners would fill casks from blackwater rivers. In the days before treated water sources, it was a safer, healthier alternative. They didn’t understand that this water carried fewer microbes because of its chemical makeup, but they knew it worked.
Blackwater streams also have high levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) due to the breakdown of the same plant material that cause the tannins. Because of this, blackwater rivers usually have high levels of (harmless) bacteria that feed on the DOC, causing a low oxygen levels.
The term tannin is from the Latin tannum and refers to the use of oak and other bark in tanning hides into leather. Scientifically, it refers to any large polyphenolic compound that can form strong complexes with various macromolecules. These compounds are most commonly found in organic, plant-based items.
Spanish moss isn’t really a moss at all; it’s an epiphyte or air plant. Botanically, it is closely related to the pineapple and absorbs nutrients and water through the air and rainfall. It does occasionally flower but it is rarely seen. The silver-gray plant grows in long, hair-like clumps, hanging from trees in subtropical climates.
According to botanical guides, it has “threadlike stems up to 6 to 7.5 metres (about 20 to 25 feet) long. The leaves, also threadlike, are about 2.5 to 7.5 centimetres (1 to 3 inches) long.”
It is commonly found living on the southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) and bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the lowlands, swamps, and marshes of the southeastern United States and can be found as far west as Texas and southern Arkansas. It does not harm or kill the trees it lives on.
William Bartram described it, and its uses, in his 1770s travels to the area:
When fresh, cattle and deer will eat it in the winter season. It seems particularly adapted to the purpose of stuffing mattrasses, chairs, saddles, collars, &c. and for these purposes, nothing yet known equals it. The Spaniards in South America, and the West-Indies, work it into cables that are said to be very strong and durable; but, in order to render it useful, it ought to be thrown into shallow ponds of water, and exposed to the sun, where it soon rots, and the outside furry substance is dissolved. It is then taken out of the water, and spread to dry; when, after a little beating and shaking, it is sufficiently clean, nothing remaining but the interior, hard, black, elastic filament, entangled together, and greatly resembling horse-hair.
In the modern era, Spanish moss has been used for building insulation, mulch, packing material, mattress stuffing, and fiber. It was even used in the padding of car seats by Henry Ford who had a home in Richmond Hill and a dealership in Savannah.
The etymology for “Spanish moss” is not known although it is often supposed it is related to a term used by French settlers in the southeastern U.S. in the 1700s. They called it barbe Espagnol, or Spanish beard, referring to the long beards popular among Spanish explorers of the era. It has become an iconic image of the South, including in Southern gothic literature and in folklore.
Image from NYPL Digital Collections. Live Oak Avenue, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga. Stereograph. 1880. The description on the reverse reads, in part: “The majority if these trees are of the Live Oak species, with but few others. The latter have long since passed away, but the sturdy oaks, with their hoary beard of moss, still defy the gales of the Atlantic and wintry blasts; and their rustling leaves whisper a ceaseless lullaby to the quiet and peaceful sleepers at their feet.”
Ogeechee Riverkeeper encourages you to get out and explore the Ogeechee and Canoochee watershed. The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to photograph the items on this list.
All are welcome to play for fun, but there are prizes for those that wish to compete.
Players get 1 point for each item found. An additional point is earned if the player correctly identifies the specific item. Example: A feather (1 pt). Identifies as barred owl (1 additional pt). Points are cumulative. There are no deductions for items not found or misidentified; they are simply points not earned.
Submit photo(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, include your checklist and any identifiers for extra points along with your total of your points.
The three players with the most points will win an exclusive ORK drybag or t-shirt.
Photograph these items (1 point each). Identify these items (1 additional point each). Possible total: 20 points.
Seeds or seed pod
Unusual shaped leaf
Acorn or other nuts
Photograph these items (1 point each). Identify location of these items (1 additional point each). Possible total: 28 points.
Activity is open to all ages and is suitable for homeschool activity for K-12 using Georgia Performance Standards/Standards of Excellence with science, earth systems and meteorology, depending on how in depth your activity is.
– Empty egg cartons (preferably paper/cardboard cartons)
– Spray water bottle
– Seed packets: tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, watermelons, okra, sweet peppers, and/or marigold seeds & potting soil (can be ordered online or any other ag/garden supply store)
-OR- old potato(es), if you are not able to get seeds and potting soil
For seed packets:
Poke small holes in the bottom of each “egg” for water to drain out.
Fill each “egg” with soil, push a finger in the middle of the dirt up to the first or second knuckle (kids with small fingers)
Drop in seeds (check package for amount of seeds per “egg”).
Use a water spray bottle and spritz each “egg”.
Check seed sunlight/shade preferences. Since egg cartons are light, you can move them around the yard for sun/shade needs!
Once the seeds sprout and start to outgrow the cartons, you can replant them in a garden bed, large pot, etc. You can plant them directly into the ground in their paper/cardboard “egg” because they will decompose; if you used styrofoam cartons, you will need to transplant them.
Make sure to separate each egg either by tearing or cutting.