Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rock creek Watershed Management Plan

There were several meetings in 2010 discussing a Rock Creek watershed management plan. There was a plan that was finally agreed upon by the local property owners and the Alabama Water Watch team who will be the ones acquiring a grant and then following up with a manager/overseer along with assistance from both the Winston County and Cullman County Extension Offices and The District Soil and Water Offices. The Rock Creek Water Shed includes White Oak and Crooked Creeks, 200 # sq. miles of Water Shed.. The grant was written and submitted in June to ADEM, it was reviewed by ADEM sent back to AWW., with questions, asking for more detailed answers, this was completed, resubmitted in August. There was a verbal approval in november , we are expecting the written approval as to total amount of the grant in January. This watershed plan is for 3 years and it could take 5 years. Rock Creek and Crooked Creek both have a 303D listed at EPA, this means there is some type of contamination on each creek. This we want removed plus when the watershed plan has been completed the water entering the lake from the 3 creeks should be clear, clean and pristine. We not only must have cooperation from farmers, cattlemen, poultry producers, forestry managers/owners but also home owners on the lake. One homeowner has the capabilities of contaminating the lake worse than someone who owns several hundred acres in the watershed. We have a lot of educating to do, but with cooperation from everyone involved in this watershed plan, we can have a pristine lake to enjoy by many for decades in the future.

2011 cleanups

We had 3 cleanups this year with Al power boats, plus 2 or 3 private cleanups with our boat/barge.The last cleanup was in Sept.when that was completed we had removed all white styrofoam,we could find on the lake north of Duncan bridge. We still have 1 or 2 loads of white styrofoam from the mouth of Rock Creek north. This will be removed before spring by having a cleanup with wcslai boat/barge and local people helping.
Our 1st cleanup in 2011 will be Saturday April 30th. We will be cleaning up sloughs on Rock Creek,White Oak, Crooked and Little crooked Creeks.hopefully we can clean the sloughs all the way to Duncan Bridge.
The next cleanup will be Friday and Saturday June 17th and 18th. We are in hopes of cleaning all the sloughs from Duncan Bridge north on Smith Lake. We will have dumpsters placed in different locations for easy boat unloading and will furnish all the bags for these cleanups. Start planning now, when you pick up your bags let us know where you are going to cleanup. Just come and help if you don't have a boat. Do you property owners, home owners and fishermen want to see Smith Lake really cleaned up, plan to help us those 3 days in 2011. More info on location of dumpsters and where to pick up bags later.My # 256-747-4422

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LaVerne Matheson Selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year

LaVerne has been selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year!  The following is a message from Linda Atkinson about the news  :

Our President and founding father of Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy was selected last week as the Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year!  We are so proud of him, and hope that you will extend congratulations his way!   Below is the nomination detailing his accomplishments.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from your Board members, and Happy New (cleaner Lake) Year!


Linda Atkinson, Secretary Treasurer

When the Arley Person of the Year moved from Florida to Alabama, he immediately recognized a need to become involved with local conservation and community groups.  He noticed that some parts of Lewis Smith Lake were having clean-up events but none within Winston County.  He also found that, even though some landowners were concerned about water quality there was no organized group doing anything about it.  He then organized and led the effort to establish Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy in 2006.  Since that time, the group has grown to 80 members.  The Advocacy Group’s 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. 

This person is the backbone of the group and is responsible for a number of achievements.  To educate Winston County residents and leaders about the importance of watershed health and highlight our unique and clean water resources, this person has provided presentations and slide shows to County Commissioners and others at community events and public meetings.  He represents the group on the Winston County Natural Resources Council and the Bankhead National Forest’s Liaison Panel. 

This person and the Advocacy Group have hosted several Alabama Water Watch training courses for volunteer water quality testers.  The Advocacy Group volunteers (including this person and some 30 others) test Smith Lake’s water at 18 sites in Winston County.  The Group provides testing equipment and reports results to Alabama Water Watch.  The Alabama Water Watch recognized this person with their Fresh Face Award for outstanding performance and contributions of a group that quickly organized monitoring efforts in 2007.

Perhaps the greatest local achievement of this person and the Advocacy Group is their work with Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers program.  This is a waterways clean-up program to remove Styrofoam, litter and abandoned boat houses from Smith Lake.  This person has single-handedly organized two clean-ups on Rock Creek and coordinated with the Bankhead National Forest to have two clean-ups on Clear Creek and Sipsey Fork.   Hundreds of landowners, the Winston County Commission and local businesses have worked together on this project.  This person understood the need for local involvement and garnered support from the Winston County Commission and other community leaders and businesses.  He has also secured free disposal sites for homeowners to discard old boat house Styrofoam in a responsible manner.  To date many river miles in Winston County have been cleaned-up resulting in an estimated 700 tons of debris removed from our waters.  Over 130 structures were included in that number.

Not only has he led the effort to get the waterways cleaned up; he has also worked to educate the next generation about the issues of water quality.  Partnering with Alabama Power Company, he and the Advocacy Group have distributed Message In A Bottle coloring books to all Winston County elementary school children for the last three years.  These educational coloring books teach students about littering and pollution of our waterways.  They have also participated in the FAWN field days by having an educational lesson on Water Quality for all 5th graders in Winston County Schools.

This person spent many hours working with Alabama Water Watch and many other organizations to develop a project plan that would help rescue parts of the Rock Creek Watershed from the 303D endangered streams list.  He has worked diligently with Advocacy and a local company to obtain a grant and to execute it to erect signs at the entrance to 33 creeks on Smith Lake in Winston County.

In 2009, this person received the prestigious W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award for 2008, an award administered by Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to recognize individual achievements in promoting the wiser use of renewable natural resources.

This person is a dedicated volunteer.  He is interested and actively engaged in the conservation of water resources in his new home community on Smith Lake and Winston County.

Sounds like a person with a lot of energy… and he and his lovely bride bought a Wave Runner for the first time and have been enjoying it immensely, and they recently decided that they wanted to realize another lifelong dream…they bought a 1994 Jaguar convertible and have been cruising the highways and byways.. he’ll be 82 years young this month, so wish a very happy birthday to the 2010 Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year, the amazing LaVerne Matheson!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just a little news:
During Thanksgiving week Cordy asked me about cutting and removing Some 15 to 20 small pine trees on the slope of our yard going down to the lake. I went and looked and sure enough all the trees from the water to the lower deck in an area about 30 feet wide were gone. Nothing left but a few pine seedlings. Who removed them BEAVERS, where did they take these 4 to 6 foot pine trees we don’t know. I talked with my neighbor David and he has been seeing beaver at dusk come close to his boat house when he is fishing. I was talking with Paul, he lives on Crooked Creek and the beavers cut about 20 trees down and removed them from their property plus climbing on the pontoons of their boat and sometimes making a mess. I assume some of you are having the same problems. What can we do to help alleviate this problem? There is open season on beaver in Al., you can shoot them, trap them or hire someone to remove/reduce the size of the beaver family. David was keeping crappe in his fish basket, until he had several to clean, but the otter cut a hole in the basket, took his fish. I was with Judy and Warren last week they live on White Oak, they were telling me about a Bobcat being in their yard just squalling away. Warren turned on the outdoor lights, went outside and scared the bobcat off. Most all of us hear coyotes at night. We are so lucky to be living in area where we have both a beautiful lake to enjoy as well as nature with all of it’s magnificent surprises and yes, problems to. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years