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Alabama Dog Hunters Clean Up National Forest
Another clean-up event is planned for this fall.
 
By Andrew Maxwell
Posted Wednesday May 30 2018, 4:59 PM
 
On Feb. 10 the Talladega and Clay County chapters of the Alabama Dog Hunters Association (ADHA) came together to clean up some of our public lands. The event took place on the Talladega National Forest just outside of Munford, with clean-up sites off USFS road 654a, Hopeful Road and Cheaha Road.
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On Feb. 10 the Talladega and Clay County chapters of the Alabama Dog Hunters Association (ADHA) came together to clean up some of our public lands. The event took place on the Talladega National Forest just outside of Munford, with clean-up sites off USFS road 654a, Hopeful Road and Cheaha Road.

 Although bad weather was moving in around noon, roughly 38 people still showed up at 8 in the morning to help clean. By 1 p.m., both the dumpsters were filled to capacity with hundreds of garbage bags worth of coffee cups, aluminum cans, fast food bags and other household garbage. Not only was there household garbage, but everything from old tires, toilets, tile and even a car battery in a creek were also picked up.

The excitement from our productivity was tempered by the fact that for every garbage bag full of trash we picked up, there was at least one bag’s worth of trash that we could not fit in the dumpsters. In some areas, trash was piled almost a foot deep as a result of years of people dumping their household trash in the national forest. I had a discussion about public lands and the clean up event with my friend and ADHA member Wayne Lackey.

“The U.S. is a very unique and special place because of our public lands,” said Wayne. “We have been given a very special gift in our public lands. We are the only country that provides such a resource to its citizens, and I think it is just awful when people stoop so low as to ruin it by piling up trash inside the forest. We oftentimes put the forest service into a position where they have no choice but to block roads and limit access to areas. Limiting access is not what they want to do, but they are the guardians of this national forest and have to do what is best for all public landowners.”

The dumping of trash, and the destruction of roads by people mud riding, have led to road closures on the national forest and on many WMAs around the state. The fact of the matter is that someone has to fix the roads and pick up the trash, and the state and federal agencies often don’t have the budget to do those things. That leaves the job up to us, the public-land owners.

“I am a turkey hunter first and foremost, but I have thrown in with the ADHA because they are doing great things in organizing and leading these types of activities at the community level,” said Wayne. “These guys gave up the entire last day of hunting season to pick up trash, despite a weather forecast calling for 100 percent chance of thunder showers. The ADHA is working hard to be good neighbors and partners with the U.S. Forest Service. We need several things to happen. We need more non-hunting volunteers in the future to get involved in the future. Hikers, horseback riders, community groups all need to be involved.

“We are planning to organize another event in the fall that will possibly take place on the south end of the forest along the Talladega/Clay County line near Millersville. We have had several other groups contact us through social media concerning partnering in the future due to all the pictures we posted on Facebook.”

It’s no secret that dog hunting is a hot-button issue in this state. Like Wayne, I don’t really dog hunt, but I have nothing against it, especially when the dog hunters spend a day working as hard as I saw them work on the clean-up day. The clean-up day was a gleaming example of different groups of hunters coming together toward a common goal and accomplishing something that badly needed to be done. It was a refreshing sight in today’s time when hunters seem to argue about everything.

It’s very encouraging that non-hunting groups are considering partnering with the ADHA for future clean-ups. The more people who come together to put their time and money into a goal like keeping our public lands clean, the better.

More clean-up days will be planned by ADHA, as well as various other non-profit groups around the state. Sadly, there is no shortage of trash on our public lands in this state, but with the combined effort of dog hunters, non-dog hunters and even non-hunters, we can make a difference.

To stay up to date with the Alabama Dog Hunters Association, visit the website alabamadoghuntersassociation.com, or follow their Facebook page, “Alabama Dog Hunters Association.”
 
 
 
 
 
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