Friday, April 20, 2012

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. Recognized Nationally with Forest Service's Rise to the Future Award

Bankhead National Forest and Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group Recognized Nationally

News Release - (Double Springs, Ala.) April 18, 2012 --- The U.S. Forest Service’s Bankhead Ranger District and longtime partner, Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group, were recently honored at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. for their dedication to ensure the water quality of Lewis Smith Lake is protected and preserved. Numerous volunteers and Forest Service employees earned the Rise to the Future award – the Forest Service highest honor for exemplary aquatic stewardship.
Since 2007, the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group has collaborated with the Bankhead National Forest in sponsoring lake shore clean-up events as part of the Alabama Power Company’s ‘Renew Our Rivers’ campaign. According to Elrand Denson, Bankhead district ranger, the Winston County ‘Renew Our Rivers’ clean-up events have removed approximately 180 tons of litter including styrofoam, appliances, tires, boating accessories and fishing tackle from Lewis Smith Lake shorelines in Winston County and the Bankhead National Forest.
“The coalition of partners have worked together tirelessly to remove trash from the shorelines on over 166 river miles in Winston County. The Forest Service commends our partners for taking on a community project to improve Alabama’s abundant natural resources” said Allison Cochran, Bankhead National Forest’s wildlife biologist. Such removal of litter not only beautifies the lake, but also prevents harm to wildlife animals and plants. It helps decontaminate the waterways and assists in preventing bushfires that damage natural areas.
“The partnership with the Bankhead Ranger District is allowing us to clean up the lake for future generations to enjoy,” said LaVerne Matheson, President of the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy. “Now we have a beautiful lake with water so blue it sparkles like diamonds at times.”
Originally, the partnership began as a small community cleanup that has now evolved into a large-scale grassroots project with hundreds of volunteers and supporters, including the Winston County Commission, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, local businesses, lake residents and visitors.
To learn more about or to volunteer with the Winston County ‘Renew Our Rivers’ campaign, please contact Allison Cochran at (205) 489-5111. To join the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc and learn more about their projects in Winston County, please contact LaVerne Matheson at (256) 747-4422.
The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group is a 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission is to preserve and protect the environmental quality of Lewis Smith Lake and its tributaries through education of the public and promotion and implementation of sound environmental practices.
William B. Bankhead National Forest is one of Alabama’s four national forests managed by the USDA Forest Service. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Motto: Caring for the land and serving people.

1 comment:

D.R. Shanklin said...

Another group noted in a USDA Blog -

For numerous years, the Bankhead National Forest has worked in partnership with a group of dedicated volunteers known as the Wild South Helping Hands Volunteer Group.

Every year, more than 50 volunteers return to the Bankhead National Forest to help protect and restore the native ecosystem of the southeast.

Volunteers from the Wild South Helping Hands Volunteer Group devoted more than 400 hours recently to help the forest maintain approximately 15 miles of trails, remove tons of rubbish and clear several illegal dumping sites. In addition, the “Helping Hands” volunteers planted trees, installed signs, improved glade and rock outcrop communities and inventoried canyon corridors.

The group also completed a non-native invasive species inventory for the Sipsey Wilderness Area. Invasive species are detrimental to many native species and their established habitats. Based on the inventory results, volunteers are now helping the forest remove non-native invasive plants such as privet and kudzu throughout the Bankhead National Forest. A difficult task, the effort requires many hours of manual labor since removal relies solely on the use of hand tools to comply with wilderness regulations.

This week is also National Volunteer Week with a Presidential proclamation asking Americans to observe the week by volunteering in service projects across the country and pledging to make service part of their daily lives. On the Bankhead National Forest, this pledge to service from dedicated assistance of volunteers allows visitors to the forest to continue to enjoy the natural beauty the forest has to offer.