Groups working to make access point more easily accessible

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 9/20/16

Kayakers and canoers will now have an easier time using the Blackwater Creek access point on Walston Bridge Road thanks to extensive work that has been done in the area over the last few weeks.

Jasper and the Walker County …

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Groups working to make access point more easily accessible

Posted

Kayakers and canoers will now have an easier time using the Blackwater Creek access point on Walston Bridge Road thanks to extensive work that has been done in the area over the last few weeks.

Jasper and the Walker County Commission have been working together to improve the Blackwater access point.

The city provided labor and materials, including filler to decrease the steepness of the drop-off on the side of the road at the access point.

Elyse Peters of the Walker County Health Action Partnership said the city has built a deceleration lane so cars can pull completely off the road. People were previously having to park on the side of the road.

She added, “The county is going to create a parking lot under the bridge.”

The parking lot will be a gravel lot that can accommodate five to 10 cars, depending on the size of the vehicles.

“The Walker Area Community Foundation is also providing support for additional environmental restoration,” Peters said.

In addition, members of the Alabama Forestry Planning Committee cleared trees from the area and people from county corrections also cleaned up trash that had been dumped in the area.

Both the city and county have worked to clear some of the vegetation in the area, “so it’s a lot easier to see if someone’s there when drivers are coming around those curves,” Peters said.

Once the project at Walston Bridge Road is finished, there will be similar improvements made to other access points.

“This is all part of the open spaces inventory, identifying what creeks and streams are floatable and scenic,” Peters said.

The project was initially funded by a $4,200 grant that the county commission recieved from Cawaco RC&D.

Peters explained, “When it started, it was just going to be a smaller access point and then it’s just snowballed and all these partners have come in to help.”

In addition to the Cawaco grant, “We’ve leveraged over $65,000 in funds and in-kind services just for that access point,” Peters said.

“We couldn’t have been able to do this work all with public dollars or all with private dollars. It was those two coming together that really allowed for us to leverage these funds the way we did,” she added.

In addition to the work being done on the access points, various groups will be holding a kayaking 101 class and a float trip.

While the kayaking 101 class is for adults only, anyone ages 12 and up can participate in the Mulberry Fork float. Children ages 12 to 19 must have a legal guardian present to participate.

The free kayaking 101 class, which is being presented by Jasper Parks and Rec and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will be held on Sept. 28, with two class times being offered. The first class will be from 8 to 10 a.m., with the second from 1 to 3 p.m. Both classes will be held at the pond at Memorial Park in Jasper.

Those interested can register online at EventBrite, by visiting the parks and recreation department office at the Jasper Civic Center or by calling Jasper Parks and Rec at 205-385-7979.

These classes are being held in preparation for the Oct. 15 day-long float down Mulberry Fork, which is being hosted by the Alabama Scenic River Trail and the Walker County Health Action Partnership. The float will launch at Disney Landing in Cordova at 9 a.m. and cover approximately a four mile stretch. The take-out point at Barney Beach will be reached around 1 p.m.

Registration for the float opened on Friday. Those interested can register online at mulberryforkfloat. eventbrite.com.

The non-refundable registration fee is $15 and the registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 10, or when the maximum capacity of 50 participants is reached.

All proceeds from the float will go toward the Walker County Blueways Initiative, which aims to develop access and improve usage of scenic floatable waterways throughout Walker County.

You can call Elyse Peters at 205-302-0001 with any questions or for more information.