Thursday, April 1, 2010

Advocacy's accomplishments and projects

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization which was formed in 2006. Our very active board of directors consists of a President, Vice-President, a Secretary/Treasurer and 9 additional directors.

Since WCSLAI was formed volunteers have removed 150 truckloads of Styrofoam from the lake and along the shores of Smith Lake in Winston County. In addition, over 130 boat docks, boathouses and other platforms that had been abandoned (and in some cases, found floating on the Lake) were removed. Other debris, filling many dumpsters, has been removed.

WCSLAI is currently working on a project to fabricate and install signage on creeks and branches on Smith Lake in Winston County. 33 sites have been identified and each location will have 2 signs, each at a different approach to the slough/creek. Funding is being provided by Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council. WCSLAI is most grateful to RC&D and to the Winston County Commission for all their efforts in support of the signage project. Labor to install the signs will be provided by Board members and interested volunteers. Once the signs are in place and various creeks and branches are more identifiable, navigation of the lake in Winston County should be safer and easier for boaters.

We are working with Alabama Water Watch on a watershed improvement program for the Rock Creek Watershed which includes Crooked Creek and White Oak Creek. Our group is assisting with the part of watershed that is in Winston County. This is a very complex project requiring the cooperation of many people from various organizations. We already have involvement of the Winston County Commissioners, ADEM, Mike Henshaw-County Extension agent, Wade Hill-Alabama Soil and Water conservation, Mayors from Arley and Addison and others. We have visited with many of the cattlemen and farmers in the area, who appear to be in favor of this project. The goal is to have the specified area removed from the EPA’s 303D list which designates contamination. The ultimate goal would be to put a program into place that would allow Smith Lake to continue to be known as one of the cleanest lakes in the US.

WCSLAI members are developing a PowerPoint program about the Warrior Watershed, with all pictures having been taken in Winston County. We are seeking funding for a projector and screen to use when presenting this program to the biology, science and FFA classes in all the high schools in Winston County. This program will also be made available for other civic organizations to view. We feel the need for our youngsters and other residents of Winston County to be aware of, and to promote, the importance of the watershed and how its “health” contributes to the economic future of Smith Lake and surrounding areas.

We have sponsored several water testing classes taught by members of Alabama Water Watch from Auburn University and we now have 18 qualified water testers and 15 active water testing sites on Smith Lake in Winston County.

We have participated in the FAWN (Forestry Awareness Now) program for the last 2 years, with 2 of our qualified water testers demonstrating to area youngsters the importance of and the method used in testing the water each month. One question the testers ask is how much water one gallon of used oil could contaminate in Smith Lake. There are all kinds of guesses, but when the answer of 1 million gallons is revealed, the students are quite shocked.

One WCSLAI director is presenting a class on” water” to elementary students. We stress to everyone we meet the value and importance of taking care of the water that we are all so blessed to have in North Alabama.

WCSLAI now has a 24 foot pontoon boat and a 26 foot barge that we can attach and push (both thanks to generous donors), which allows us to promote clean-ups by homeowners in their own immediate areas. They furnish the manpower and we furnish the boat/barge and equipment. 2 locations on the lake allow us to unload Styrofoam anytime and the county will dispose of the Styrofoam for us.

Our mission continues to be securing even more cooperation from additional county, state and government agencies and to educate more residents of the care needed to preserve our own Smith Lake in a pristine condition. Future generations will then be able to enjoy this beautiful lake as we have.

Mission Statement: The mission of Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy is to preserve and protect the environmental quality

of Lewis Smith Lake and its tributaries through education of the public and the promotion and implementation of sound environmental practices.

For further information on how you can do your part, call us. 205-387-9999

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