Friday, April 20, 2012

WCSLAI recognized Nationally by the Forest Service with Rise to the Future Award

Forest Service News Release

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

(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. Congratulations to Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. members and the Bankhead National Forest staff for this prestigious national award. Well deserved!

  2. Congratulations to two wonderful organizations!