Alabama RiverKids Project to Put Underserved Children on the Rivers Takes Off in 2013
Creating RiverKids: The National Park Service had a dream to give every child in Alabama a positive river experience. The Alabama Scenic River Trail made it happen.
July 15, 2013. Decatur, Alabama
The Alabama Scenic River Trail has relied on its partners The National Park Service; the Alabama Association of Resource, Conservation and Development Councils(RC&D); and Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education to fund 104 kayaks and required gear to bring the underserved youth of Alabama face-to-face with the rivers of Alabama. The project is expected to raise awareness of Alabama’s natural treasures among families who could not ordinarily experience them. The outcome will be a cleaner state and a healthier future for the children and their families.
“This project has the potential to move tens of thousands of children from spectators to stakeholders in Alabama’s natural environment” says Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), District 3, Morgan, Madison and Limestone counties. We believe that the partnership among the National Park Service, Alabama RC&D, the Alabama Scenic River Trail and Legacy of Alabama will create a new direction for our state, a very positive thing to be known for. Alabama has more rivers and a more vibrant array of water species than almost any other state, yet our citizens—and especially our youth—have grown away from that. The RiverKids program is a way to reconnect nature, youth, and Alabama.”
Keena Graham, a National Park Service Ranger at Russell Cave National Monument with a number of innovative projects under her belt, believes RiverKids is exactly what’s missing in the burgeoning development of tourism in Alabama. “To our underserved citizens and their children, even the cost of paddlecraft puts this dream out of their reach. The RiverKids Project makes the dream a reality for practically every child in the state. “
Alabama Mountains, Rivers & Valleys RC&D Council Director Mike Roden is also affiliated with the AARC&D, who supports the planning, implementation and funding of more than 400 projects statewide. “With over a hundred boats in nine locations, and trained instructors to lead them, we’ve got a safe and sure way to get this done. I’m proud of what RC&D; the Alabama Scenic River Trail; Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education; the Alabama Legislature and the National Park service have been able to pull together to make this happen.”
Fred Couch, President and Founder of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, emphasizes the outcomes that RiverKids presents: “This is the single most important contribution we can make to our future youth in athleticism, decision making, and forming bonding with the adults who guide them. And we want everyone, expecially the parents, to know that your RiverKids will be in good hands when they are on the water whether they are learning the simple pleasures of skipping a stone or learning how to take care of their corner of the natural world.”
• The National Park Service Contributed $16,000 toward the purchase of the 52 boats that have been delivered to the Alabama Mountains, Rivers & Valleys RC&D Council office in Decatur, Alabama.
• Legacy of Alabama, who raises money through their branded automobile tag initiative, provided $6,000 in a grant toward the paddles, personal flotation devices and custom kayak trailers that will be required to run the program, the cost of which materials totals $10,000. The remaining $4,000 required for this equipment is being provided by the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.
• Sen. Arthur Orr serves as the Senate Ways and Means General Fund Chairman and Chairman of the Water Policy and Management Joint Legislative Committee.
• Calhoun County Commissioner Tim Hodges provided the $1,500 for the required 104 nylon straps and the fuel to deliver all kayaks the 3,860 miles round trip to their destinations in Alabama.
• The Alabama Scenic River Trail designed the project and wrote the grants to obtain funding. They are tasked with the construction of nine custom kayak trailers, one for each of the RC&D districts in Alabama. ASRT is providing promotional materials and is contacting volunteers to work with RC&D offices to teach safety, environmental stewardship, and kayak paddling.
• The Alabama Scenic River Trail has organized a statewide sports committee that will encourage participating children from the nine RC&D districts to race competitively each June at Oak Mountain State Park in conjunction with Alabama Sports Festival, effectively introducing kayaking as an event at that festival.
• The nine RC&D districts of Alabama will operate the Alabama RiverKids program, including the provision of instructors and safety management.
• The program is expected to begin in the summer of 2013.
• The nine RC&D Councils are located around the state:
Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers and Valley’s RC&D
5514 US Highway 31 S
Hartselle, AL 35640
Ala-Tom RC&D Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 355
16 West Front Street South
Thomasville, Alabama 36784
Cawaco RC&D Council
1731 1st Avenue North Suite 200
Birmingham, AL 35203
Coosa Valley RC&D Council
917 Snow Street
Oxford, Alabama 36203
Gulf Coast RC&D Council
P. O. Box 281
104 West Ridgeley Street
Atmore, AL 36504
Mid-South RC&D Council
5900 Carmichael Place
Montgomery, AL 36117
Phone: 334.244.6903 ext. 137
Northwest Alabama RC&D Council
1101 Highway 72 East, Suite 17
Tuscumbia, AL 35674
Tombigbee RC&D Council
Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Annex
2501 7th Street, Suite 300
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
Wiregrass RC&D Council
1690 West Roy Parker Road
Ozark, AL 36360
• The National Park Service contact is
Keena Nichelle Graham, Ranger
National Park Service
Russell Cave National Monument
3729 County Road 98
Bridgeport, AL 35740
• The Legacy of Alabama contact is
Paige Moreland, Executive Director
Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education
P.O. Box 3813
Montgomery, Alabama 36109-0813
Toll free: 800-240-5115
• Senator Arthur Orr’s contact information is:
Senator Arthur Orr
Alabama State House
11 south Union Street
Montgomery AL 36130-4000
Huntsville phone: 256.539.5441
Montgomery phone: 334.242.7891
• The Alabama Scenic River Trail contacts are
Fred Couch, President
Alabama Scenic River Trail
PO Box 182
Choccolocco, AL 36254
Jim Felder, Executive Director
799 Ashley Drive
Madison, AL 35758