Every year we get a load of volunteers from the University of Alabama, Outdoor Action group. This year was no less impressive than years past. Between 90 and 100 students and staff showed up ready to work again this year.
|University of Alabama, 2016 Outdoor Action group|
There were enough students to split up into 3 groups to cover more ground.
|Alabama Power Co Pavilion at Hurricane Creek Park|
Group 1 concentrated on the new PARA park on Hurricane Creek.
Alabama Power Co. was kind enough to donate $35,000 to the park for a new pavilion. With budget issues and new parks added to the PARA list, money was a bit tight to finish the landscaping.
For some time now it has stood looking pretty rough. Weeds grew where grass should have been and erosion was beginning to take a toll on the slopes.
The first matter of business was to get the soil ready for grass using rakes and sling blades. By the time the students were ready to work the Tuscaloosa PARA staff showed up with a pallet of sod, hay bales, seed, and fertilizer.
Part of he crew set about raking and grooming while others set up a relay line to pass sod to it's new home. They worked like a well oiled machine.
So well in fact that Para staff decided to bring out more hay, seed, fertilizer and helped set up the erosion control so we will not have to worry about this section any more.
I can't say enough good things about PARA and the way they turned this into such a huge success.
By the end of the day the pavilion area looked as well groomed as some KOA campgrounds! The students that worked on this project came back proud of the effort and will be able to bring their children here one day to see the nice picnic pavilion they helped create.
|APCO Pavilion at Hurricane Creek Park seen from Hwy 216 bridge|
The second group started at Largin Shoals above the Holt Peterson Rd. and walked downstream to Watson's Bend removing scrap metal left over from the tornado of 2011 and other debris washed in including several tires.
Many stayed in the campground at Watson's Bend to clear paths to the water and give the main activity grounds a facelift. Since this part of the creek was directly impacted by the tornado it was interesting to hear the students talking about how well the forest was recovering.
They cut and groomed the access points to the swimming areas as well as picked up litter. When it rained a bit they worked even harder. One student told me "At least it's warm rain"
Since the tornado of April 27, 2011 we have seen a tremendous recovery of the forest around the campground but along with that regeneration comes invasive species such as privet. Without these volunteers it would be impossible for me to keep it under control alone.
During a lunch break I took time to answer questions and tell them about some of the threats to the watershed and community. Many seemed genuinely concerned and disappointed to learn that this site where we had such fun was going to be destroyed by Alabama Power Co. for a power line Right of Way. The very benefactor who donated the shed at the PARA park.
It's important for these new members of our community to understand that not all progress is good progress. They completely understood the irony of a forest that survived the most powerful tornado in our recent history would not survive Alabama Power Co.
The third group started out at Watson's Bend and walked almost to the Black Warrior River also removing hundreds of pounds of tires and other debris.
They were met at the take out by Dr. Doug Woodward who was more than happy to use his super cool 4 wheel drive to pull the bulk of the haul out for them.
After loading the days catch on my trailer we headed back to Watson's Bend for some well deserved R&R!
|Watson's Bend Campground|
|The swimming hole|
|Outdoor Action 2016, Thank you one and all!|