SMITH LAKE - The Smith Lake Civic Association, with help from other groups, sent out three boats Monday morning to start a two-day cleanup of the Walker County area of Smith Lake that continues …
SMITH LAKE - The Smith Lake Civic Association, with help from other groups, sent out three boats Monday morning to start a two-day cleanup of the Walker County area of Smith Lake that continues today.
About 20 volunteers will assemble at the Smith Lake boat launch near the dam again at 8 a.m. today and head out on three boats at 8:30 a.m. Alabama Power will provide lunch again today at 11:30 a.m.
Officials with the association said the group has cleanups twice a year in this area, and the Cullman and Winston lake associations also undertake their own cleanups. Danny Williams, a board member of the association, said the group goes from "the dam to Duncan Bridge and the creeks."
Officials from CAWACO Resource, Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council in Birmingham and state Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, announced Monday that the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils had given through CAWACO a $5,000 state grant to assist with the cleanup and habitat restoration efforts.
The cleanup is also done in cooperation with an Alabama Power environmental conservation program called Renew Our Rivers, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year.
As for Monday morning's efforts, Roger Treglown, the president of the association, said at noon, "We didn't get far today. We just got up Blue Water Point. Our goal is to try to get past Duncan Bridge and one of the power company boats is going to the mouth of Ryan Creek. They will try to clean up around there."
Treglown said only about five or six volunteers are needed on each boat, meaning he had the right number of volunteers for three boats. "I think we are right about on target with the power company guy. We had about 20 folks this morning," he said.
Ron Davis, a board member with the association, said, "The whole idea is stewardship of the environment. We believe in keeping the lake as pristine as possible so everyone can enjoy it." He said no one enjoys going across the lake by boat and seeing trash on the banks.
Davis said the association has its own boat and Alabama Power provides two boats. Shoreline managers from Alabama Power were also on hand that day. Three boats came back at mid-day from the first effort to the boat dock, and the boats with the debris were pulled up to a large bin from the Walker County Solid Waste Department.
By noon, the bin was close to being filled from what was obtained that morning.
Davis said lakeshore owners are performing good maintenance so that encapsulated foam is not breaking loose. One landowner even brought a large piece on his own for them to haul away, tying it to the boat.
"It's a team effort," he said.
Unencapsulated foam used to be used often until it was banned, leaving white styrofoam that would break into pieces, he said. Treglown said that is not seen as often now, but the encapsulated will still break off during a storm. "It gets water logged. It is super heavy, so we had to use our hoist just to dump some of them," he said.
Treglown said two cleanups are scheduled each year.
"We'll do another cleanup (Sept. 9-10) that we have already have scheduled with the power company, for two more days," he said. "It's not as bad as it used to be 15 years ago or so, as I understand, but we still get a lot of weight. We will still have several tons."
He noted the full county dumpster and said that he would probably have is swapped out for another empty dumpster in the morning.
Williams said the association is also active over the past three years in creating fish habitats in the lake, cutting bamboo and sticking it in 50-gallon buckets and cements. "My grandson has already caught some fish off of it," he said.
For his part, Reed told volunteers at the end of Monday's sandwich lunch, thanked the association and CAWACO, noting CAWACO helps to fund projects "that would otherwise we would not have any other way to support. You guys fall into that category."
Reed said he grew up in Walker County loving Smith Lake. "Looking at the work you all do in protecting the lake is so important," he said. "It is not only one of the greatest natural resources that we have in our community, it is one of the best economic opportunities that we have in our community.
"It is rare you find that combination where something is so significantly an economic asset and also that needs to be protected, something beautiful, something that offers so much pleasure to those who have an opportunity to be involved and engaged."
He said he saw data last year that each of the fishing tournaments that take place at that location is an economic benefit to Walker County of $2 million, which includes gasoline, hotels and restaurants which benefit.
Anyone wanting more information about the association or about the cleanups can call Treglown at 205-300-5253.