5-20-2016 12-29-56 PMTest Your Knowledge and Win a Prize Package
Over the past few months, Leigh Patterson and I have taken an Environmental Jeopardy game into our Athens City and Limestone County Schools. Every 5th and 6th grade class participated to see who knew the most about the environment and the part we play in protecting or harming it.

Several of the same questions were asked at Earth Day recently as adults and students tested their knowledge in order to receive door prize tickets.
Now we’d like to present some of these questions to you! KALB has put together a prize package of items which we will give away to someone who correctly answers all of the questions. All correct entries will be placed in a drawing to win the prize.

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Once you’ve completed your answers, follow instructions at the end of this article to send us your entry.
OK, put your 5th grade thinking caps on, or just grab a 5th grader to help you!

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We will answer all of these questions and announce the winner in a future issue. All entries must be delivered or postmarked by June 4, 2016. Winning entry will be drawn no later than June 10, 2016.
MAIL ENTRIES: KALB Quiz, P.O. Box 1089, Athens, AL 35611
EMAIL Scanned Entries: KALBCares@gmail.com
Bring them to the KALB office at 125 East Street in Athens.

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Last Saturday, over 1,000 guests came to KALB’s Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO held at Friendship Church. What a GREAT time was had by all who attended!

KALB is so grateful to the generosity of Friendship Church in letting us basically “take over” their facilities! Activities, exhibits, and animals spread from the outside grounds and through much of the church buildings! You could find critters that were microscopic in size, insects to hold, goats and alpacas to feed and pet, and Rosie, the beautiful horse from K.I.N. Stables to love on. The Alabama Wildlife Center was there with beautiful raptors to show off. We even had a special visit from Ludivine, the famous bloodhound from Elkmont. She strolled through giving hugs, licks, and paw shakes!

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I must say that, although this event on the surface appears to be for children, it is a great experience for adults as well. There is a great deal of information shared that is important to everyone. I learn something new every single time we host this Earth Day event. We are never too old to learn nor should we ever stop!

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One of our board members, Kay Kime, said she worked very hard to convince friends of hers to come to the event. They were hesitant, but they came. On the way out, they told Kay they would never miss another because it was one of the most informative events they had ever attended.

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So plan to attend next year. It will be held the last Saturday in April. If you think you might forget, watch for our 2017 Paws for the Environment calendar with all of our events noted. The top 12 winners of the Paws for the Environment Photo Contest will be featured. The calendar will be on sale this fall!
I will let the photos speak for themselves.
By: Lynne Hart

5-6-2016 10-19-52 AM

Earth Day & Outdoor Expo

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4-15-2016 4-11-57 PMCome celebrate with us!

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful will host our annual Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO. It will be held at Friendship Church again this year from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Marbut Bend Nature Walk
Before you head to the celebration, take a guided walk at the Marbut Bend Walking Trail with Damien Simbeck from TVA. Damien is a bird expert and very knowledgeable about how that area came to be and the wildlife that call it home. Participants should meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Trail Head, which is located a short way west of the Elk River bridge on Hwy. 99. The trail is handicap accessible. Please wear comfortable shoes and use insect repellant if needed.

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EXPO
After the nature walk, you will have plenty of time to bring the whole family to Friendship Church on Lucas Ferry Rd. in Athens to celebrate Earth Day beginning at 10 a.m. Admission is free and donations are greatly appreciated.

4-15-2016 4-12-30 PMOur main attractions this year will be raptors from the Alabama Wildlife Center (their first visit), the Tennessee Valley Zoo with animals to pet and feed, and Jim Swanner of KIN Stables and his horse Rosie. As always, children up to age 12 can make and take a variety of recycled crafts.

You will find vendors and exhibitors inside and outside with information, hands-on activities, and interesting and fun things to do and see. AMSTI will be there with microscopes to see water samples and plant life. The Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority will teach children and adults about aquifers by helping them build edible aquifers using ice cream, soda, and other yummy ingredients. Auburn University’s Entomology Department will bring lots of bug specimens and possibly roaches to race. You may even find edible insects to sample!

4-15-2016 4-12-40 PMDon’t worry, there will be lots of things to do, even if you’re not a fan of bugs! Learn more about recycling, test your knowledge of native birds, learn about the dangers of cigarette litter, find out about Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and get a $1/minute massage from HealthSource with all proceeds going to KALB. Sample some Starbucks coffee and ask for coffee grounds to add to your garden while they last, find out how to conserve water at home including the use of rain barrels, and so much more!

We could not have this great program if not for our generous sponsors. Our CHAMPION SPONSORS are Custom Polymers, PET, and Friendship Church. GUARDIANS are Legacy, Partners in Education, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Bank Independent, and Pepsi. PATRONS are Crews, Inc., Rep. Danny Crawford, Top Job Roofing and Construction, and HealthSource of Athens. FRIENDS are Clem Tire, Jacobs Technology, TVA, and Athens Now.

We hope you will come out and celebrate with us. Our world and our local environment are gifts we should cherish and protect. Let’s learn how together.
By: Lynne Hart

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4-1-2016 11-41-16 AMSpring has sprung and, for some of us, thoughts turn to spring cleaning. Here are some tips that might help you during the process.

Easy Latex Paint Disposal
Many of us have partial cans of latex paint stuck in sheds and garages with no clue how to properly dispose of it. If we ever have another household hazardous waste collection here, chances are great that latex paint will not be included in items accepted. The reason is that in solid form, latex paint is not hazardous, and collecting it quickly uses up the funds needed for truly hazardous material collection.

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Here is what to do if you have partial cans of latex paint:
• If the paint is good and there is a usable amount, Habitat for Humanity ReStore may accept it for resale.
• For small amount of paint: Add kitty litter, shredded paper, or a consumer product for drying paint to the can. When the paint is completely dry, you can recycle the can at the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center.
• For large amount of paint: Line a cardboard box with a trash bag. Pour paint into the trash bag. Add drying materials such as those listed above. When the paint is completely dry, tie up the bag and put it in your regular trash. Recycle the paint can and the box.
• REMEMBER: Keep drying paint out of reach of pets and children.
Oil-based paint and paints such as Kilz must be disposed of at a household hazardous waste collection and should never be put into your household trash. Never put liquid paint of any kind in your household trash. It can be very damaging to trash collection equipment and roads.

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Shredded Paper
Is shredding old documents part of your spring cleaning? We often get calls asking if our recycling center accepts shredded paper. YES, and they welcome it!
• When recycling shredded paper, leave it in a plastic bag and place it in with mixed paper at the recycling center.
• Do not put loose shredded paper in the collection bins at the center. It can easily be blown about by the wind causing a serious litter problem.

Tire Recycling
Thanks to grants from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management received by Limestone County, tire recycling has been available to Limestone County residents for several years. The newest grant received is good through September 2018! Tires are NOT accepted at the recycling center. Here are county shed locations and drop-off times:
District 1 Shed: 22555 Elkton Rd, Athens, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
District 2 Shed: 24795 Pepper Rd., Athens, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
District 3 Shed: 14119 Ripley Rd., Athens, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
District 4 Shed: 22155 Section Line Rd., Elkmont, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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Electronics Recycling
There have been recent changes to the electronics recycling program at our center. The cost of processing and shipping these items has increased and the center had to make the difficult decision to pass on that expense or discontinue taking these items. Here is what you need to know:
• Electronics are considered anything with a cord or batteries (not including large appliances)
• A $0.30/lb fee will be charged for all electronics brought it.
• No batteries of ANY KIND will be accepted.

Paper, Books, and Junk Mail
Our recycling center can recycle most any type of paper products that have not been soiled by food. If it tears, it’s recyclable!
Here is a list of some of the paper items accepted:
• Cardboard boxes
• Paperboard, such as cereal boxes
• Books, including hard-back and phone books
• Newspapers
• Magazines
• Office paper, including shredded
If you have questions about something you want to discard, but are not sure it can be recycled, contact the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center at 256-233-8746. Ruby McCartney, Plant Manager, and Keri Chalmers, Asst. Plant Manager, would be happy to help you.
By: Lynne Hart

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3-18-2016 10-22-17 AMMany of us are looking forward to spring and summer days when we can spend time fishing, hiking, boating, having picnics, and enjoying the great outdoors.

KALB works hard to make those days more enjoyable through education and volunteer opportunities focused on litter abatement and litter removal. On April 9th, KALB will offer an event in which we welcome you to participate.

Our annual Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail Cleanup will take place on Saturday, April 9th. Volunteers will gather at 8:00 a.m. at the boat ramp on Hatchery Rd. off Hwy. 99 in West Limestone. Individuals and registered teams are welcome. Once everyone has signed in and received supplies and instructions, groups will be assigned to an area to clean up.

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Damien Simbeck from TVA will join us and bring lots of supplies. He and his crew will take one group out onto the water.

A complimentary lunch will be served to all volunteers at noon as a thank you for making a difference.

Information and registration forms can be found on the KALB website at www.KALB.com. You will find the link to the 2016 Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail Cleanup under the EVENTS tab.

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Team Challenge
Thanks to TVA, we are once again able to offer cash prizes of $250, $150, and $100 to the top three groups picking up the most pounds of trash. This year the rules have changed slightly. Each team’s total trash weight will be divided by the number of members on the team, arriving at a per capita number. That will be the number that is used to determine winners.

This will allow smaller teams to complete fairly with larger teams. Here are a few other guidelines:

• Teams must consist of at least 5 members.
• Extra credit points will be given to groups that separate recyclables.
• All debris must be weighed by the noon deadline.
• All debris must come from designated areas as specified by KALB.
• Concrete and bricks will not be accepted for weighing. These are often placed by the county or TVA to stabilize land.
• Deadline for team registration is March 30, 2016.

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Registration Information
Teams must register by March 30, 2016 to participate in the Team Challenge. Contact KALB for additional information. We’d love to hear from you!
Individuals should contact KALB at 256-233-8000 or KALBCares@gmail.com to let us know you are coming so we can prepare enough food for lunch. Individuals may come even if not registered; however, registration is preferred.

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Volunteers are welcome to bring boats, canoes, or kayaks to capture debris from the water. We have a huge problem with trash collecting in sloughs, which cannot be reached by land or a larger boat. Some kayaks may be available if requested IN ADVANCE.

Come out and join us for a day in the outdoors doing something good for our community.
By: Lynne Hart

3-5-2016 9-34-04 AMFUNDRAISING: Cash, Checks, and Precious Pups
There is nothing like having organization, and taking advantage of the love people have for their dogs!

Memberships and Donations
It is critically important to KALB’s financial stability that we increase our number of members and encourage donations. The percentage of our community population who has invested in KALB is very small. I invite everyone to visit our website to learn about the many wonderful things KALB is doing to make our community better for everyone.

Here are just a few:
• Home & Garden Show Seedling Giveaway
• Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail Cleanup
• Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO
• Providing Community Service Hours
• Adopt-A-Spot Program
• Environmental Education – Pre-school through 6th grade
4H Club Presentations City & County 5th & 6th grade a few days of spring-like weather to bring me out of a funk. Yes, things have been a bit stressful at the KALB office for the past few months. Several of our KALB Commission members had a brainstorming session recently to try to find ways to fix our budget deficit due to losing some important funding dollars. Leigh, our office manager, took two months off without pay to help bridge the gap, but there is still a ways to go.
• Brainstorming is always fun, and we had some really creative thinkers in the group. We decided to consider our financial difficulties as an opportunity rather than a problem. With that in mind, KALB is focusing on attracting new members to our
• Supply Provisions for Litter Cleanups
• Speakers for Groups/Clubs
• Specially-Designed Presentations by Request
• Bi-Monthly Athens Now Articles
• KALB Website and Social Media
If you are led to support these efforts in a big or small way, please visit our website at www.KALBCares.com and select your method of giving under the Donation Tab. You may also send your membership check or donation to KALB, P.O. Box 1089, Athens, AL 35612. Every dollar means the world to KALB.

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Pet Photo Contest
We are also pleased to announce our inaugural Paws for the Environment Photo Contest and Fundraiser! KALB invites all of you with a precious pooch to enter them in our contest. Winners will be featured in our 2017 Paws for the Environment Calendar.

Elkmont’s famous Ludivine has endorsed this contest and will be featured on the calendar cover.

Each entry must be accompanied by an Entry Form and a $5.00 donation to KALB. You can find links on our website under the EVENTS tab. If you send in $10 (instead of $5), that will cover your entry fee plus 10 votes to start you off.

Photos of pets will appear on the KALB website, and the public will be invited to vote for their favorites beginning March 15th. Each $1 donation to KALB will equal one vote. Online voting will be available; however, votes can be sent in by mail or brought to the KALB office as well.

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Voting will continue through April with final voting taking place at the Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO on April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Friendship Church in Athens. Ludivine will be at this event to give lots of love and licks!

Some winning pets may be offered a photo shoot and winning owners will be presented with a complimentary calendar once they are printed. All donations will help KALB to meet basic budgetary needs.
Everyone Wins!

Our goal is to make Athens and Limestone County a cleaner and more beautiful place to live, work, and play through education and grassroots efforts. Please help us continue these works through your personal participation.
All staff, volunteers, and supporters of KALB say “THANK YOU!”
By: Lynne Hart

2-19-2016 11-13-01 AMIn 2013, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful received a grant from Lowe’s Corporate through Keep America Beautiful to create a community garden at the Farmer’s Market. It was our hope to create a place where fresh produce could be grown and provided to those in our community that would benefit from it.

Asphalt was removed and additional green space was added to the property in preparation for garden beds. Hundreds of volunteer hours were spent building three raised beds and three hugelkultur beds.

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What is a hugelkultur bed, you ask? It was a new concept to us as well. Hugelkultur (pronounced hoogle-culture) beds are created by either digging a hole and filling it with tree trunks, limbs, and branches along with other compostable materials or just piling them up and covering them with dirt. The trees will become spongy as they decompose and will absorb and hold water, feeding it back to plants during dry periods. All of the materials attract healthy organisms which improve the soil, which benefits any plants grown on or around these beds.

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Many volunteer hours were also spent tilling the beds, planting, weeding, and harvesting crops. All of the produce that has been grown has been donated to LCCI’s food pantry.

2-19-2016 11-10-50 AMWe are proud of the vision we had for this garden and what has been accomplished; however, we at KALB believe that our staff and the KALB commission have taken this project as far as we are capable of doing. It is time to turn the gardens over to a more capable community group with gardening knowledge that will allow them to expand into sustainable vertical gardening to substantially increase the harvest and help make this garden what we envisioned it could be. We would like to turn this project over to people that have a heart for the community with a desire to bring fresh produce to those in need, whether that be LCCI or for another worthy purpose.

Part of the grant money received was used to build a storage shed for garden tools and equipment. Several hoses, sprinklers, rakes, and hand tools will be available. Plans to create a drip system have been discussed and funds are available to make this happen with the right person taking charge.

Our contribution to LCCI has been small, but appreciated. We know this community garden is capable of so much more than we are able to accomplish.
We welcome anyone to contact us for more information on the community garden project. Let’s make our community garden a GREAT garden!
By: Lynne Hart

2-19-2016 11-11-58 AM

2-5-2016 4-32-39 PMBefore I get into the topic of this article, I would first like to share KALB’s belief that a healthy environment is of great importance to all. We believe that people inherently understand the value of and care about a healthy environment. Every educational program, every project, every volunteer opportunity, and every means of sharing information is in place because of these beliefs.

Now, on to the topic of litter. I hate that we still have to talk about it because littering is still a problem. Then I remind myself that there are people out there that may not have the facts necessary to make a good, educated decision about littering. There are others who agree that litter is a problem, but aren’t sure how they can help.

Sadly, there will always be a small portion of people that will never change their mindset. That will never stop us from reaching out to young and old with information and opportunities. My hope is increased when I speak with our youngest students who seem to already understand that littering is wrong — and you should hear them tattle on their parents!

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My dog, Annie, and I enjoyed the recent warm temperatures by going for long walks. It is amazing what can be seen when walking that would be missed when driving by. The photos on this page are just an example of what Annie and I passed by on a recent walk. I didn’t have a litter grabber and a trash bag with me; however, Annie and I went back the next day to pick it up. In case you are wondering, I always have a bag with me in case Annie leaves a “present” along the way. I will add a litter grabber and trash bag to my dog-walking gear as often as possible from here on out.

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The following facts about litter are for those who are still unaware and for those that would like to share this information with others:

The Cost of Litter is Substantial

More than $11.5 billion is spent each year nationwide, with businesses paying a huge portion of that amount, and state and local governments, schools, and other organizations picking up the rest of the cost. All of these costs are undoubtedly passed down to consumers and taxpayers.

There are also indirect costs that we don’t often think about. Keep America Beautiful conducted an in-depth study and determined the following: it is estimated that the presence of litter in a community decreases property values by 7% — $7,000 on a $100,000 property; 93% of homeowners said a littered neighborhood would influence their desire to purchase a property; 36% of business development officials said that litter impacts a decision to locate to a community, jeopardizing the possibility of new jobs in that area. Litter can also cause lost tourism revenues, vehicle repairs, fires, and injuries.

Litter Has Costly Environmental Consequences

All living things rely on a healthy environment to survive. When we litter, we can damage ecosystems which must be restored, cause injury to humans and wildlife, and eventually these things will pose a threat to human health. Litter is carried by wind, animals, and rain into storm drains and local waterways, including the Elk River which is our source for drinking water. It doesn’t matter how far you live from the river, litter can travel many, many miles!

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Get Involved!

If you would like to stand up and take some responsibility for your neighborhood, we can help by supplying you with some trash bags and a litter grabber. Invite neighbors to join you in the effort and we’ll provide supplies for them, too! Organize a group to join the Adopt-A-Spot program. There are rewards connected with this program that can benefit local non-profits and organizations. Take a stand against a littered community and be an example to others.

We have a no-pressure guarantee that you can contact us with your questions about this and other issues. You’ll receive answers without obligation. That’s our promise.
By: Lynne Hart

1-22-2016 10-33-33 AMIt won’t be long before the hours of daylight increase, a warm and blustery hint of spring is in the air, and Athens and Limestone County come to life with activities!

KALB has officially put fall behind us and we are looking toward our spring events. We get excited because there is so much good accomplished during this time. Adults and children are educated about our impact on the environment we rely on to survive. Our precious water resource, the Elk River, gets the attention it so richly deserves. Best of all, we have the opportunity to talk one on one with our neighbors who share this piece of the earth with us.

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Here are a few of our upcoming events:

Home and Garden Show – March 11th and 12th

Stop by our booth to see what’s new in the world of recycling, litter abatement, beautification, and environmental education. We love to visit with you.
I am pleased to share that the Alabama Forestry Commission – Limestone County Division will be procuring seedlings for us again this year. We will be giving them away to Limestone County residents at the Home and Garden Show. When we learn what variety of seedlings will be coming our way, we will share that information.
KALB has been asked to participate in the Kids Area again this year. From Noon to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, we will be helping children plant seeds to take home, care for, and watch grow. There might also be a visit from Sparky, our mascot!

Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail Cleanup – April 2nd
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has agreed to sponsor our cleanup again this year! That means the group competition for cash prizes of $250, $150, and $100 is ON! We have made an important change for this year. The group weights will be divided by the number of group members participating, and that number will be used to determine the winners. This will allow small groups an even playing field with larger groups to compete for the prizes.

Registration is open. You will find the event on the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful Facebook page. Information and links to documents can be found at www.KALBCares.com under the Event tab.
Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO – April 30th

This will be our 8th Earth Day event, and we are so proud of how it has grown and how the community has embraced it as a “must see” event!

KALB has been invited to use the grounds of Friendship Church on Lucas Ferry Rd. in Athens. We are grateful and excited about this because the large property will allow us to expand our activities! We will also have the buildings available for “inside” activities and in case of inclement weather, which means no more scrambling for a rain location.

The Alabama Wildlife Center, a champion of birds since 1977, will be joining us this year for the first time, bringing with them a variety of raptors. AWC rescues, rehabilitates, and returns to the wild Alabama’s injured and orphaned native birds. As experts, they will provide great information on the proper steps to take if you should find an injured bird. The Tennessee Valley Zoo will be returning to this year’s event. Everyone had a great time petting, feeding, and learning about the variety of animals they brought with them.

The Earth Day planning team has many more possibilities in the works, so stay tuned!

Our sponsors are crucial to making this the most successful event it can be. Exhibitors are also invited to register for a space. All exhibitors must have an environmental education piece to their display, have earth-friendly products or services to share, information on healthy living, or have information on outdoor activities in the North Alabama area. If you would like more information on sponsorship opportunities or exhibitor spaces, please contact us or visit our website.
By: Lynne Hart

1-22-2016 10-33-57 AM

1-8-2016 9-59-05 AMWhen you hear the words “nature” or “outdoors,” what does that mean to you?

When I was a child, I lived upstairs from my grandparents in a double house in Cleveland, Ohio. The section of yard with grass was about the size of a postage stamp, and the rest consisted of driveway. I spent many hours of play outside with friends climbing the tree that grew in an empty lot down the road, playing kickball in the street, or riding bikes. There were small playgrounds nearby, but we could drive for miles and miles, seeing nothing but concrete and patches of grass.

It was a great treat when my family went to the Metro Parks for a picnic. The Cleveland Metro Parks System consists of 18 park reservations spanning 23,000+ acres which form a “necklace” around the City of Cleveland. It is referred to as the “Emerald Necklace.” Thank goodness for the Metro Parks, where we could breathe in the beauty of nature.

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Moving to Athens gave my husband and me a chance to experience living outside of a big city. We built a home in West Limestone on 7 acres. I enjoyed watching the birds come to our feeders and logged each new species I saw. When my granddaughters visited, we would sit at the window and search the bird books together. It was exciting to see the deer play or watch the turkeys make their way across our property. I was truly a city girl in awe of having nature visit my back yard.

I am grateful for the forward thinking people who reserved land around Cleveland for those of us living in the “concrete jungle.” Here in Limestone County, I am grateful to those who have worked so hard and continue their efforts to create the “Rails to Trails” and the walking trail in Athens, as well as the Mayor’s appreciation of green space in future planning. As Athens, Madison, and Huntsville continue to grow toward each other, we run the risk of losing easy access to the wonders of nature.

The loss of land to “progress” also means wildlife find the space they share to be crowded and move into populated areas to find food and shelter.

So what can we as individuals do? First, let’s make sure our children turn off the electronics and go outside. Fresh air and sunshine are good for the body and soul. An appreciation for nature must be nurtured. Let’s take time to go on nature hikes or stroll on local trails to refresh ourselves and remember why we need to care about our environment. As you walk, stop to inspect the plant life, search for insects, talk to your children and grandchildren about the miracle of a tree, the importance of bees and bats to crop production, or how we rely on our Elk River for our drinking water.

The following quotes were from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds when they were asked “What is a Grandparent” and published anonymously. I found the following three to be so telling.

• “When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.”
• “They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on cracks.”
• “They don’t say, ‘Hurry up.'”

Don’t deny your children the precious gift of time spent outside together.

At home, you can create gardens that provide the native plants that welcome birds, bees, butterflies, and bunnies. Native plants are “built” for the area and require less care than non-native plants. There is a great deal of information on the internet regarding what is native to this area and the wildlife they will attract. One of the local nurseries would also be a great resource.
So much of nature is in the hands of the human race. As individuals, we can’t fix it all. We can, however, teach upcoming generations of children how it all ties together, how every creature on this planet (big, small, and microscopic) rely on one another. Maybe along the way we will awaken our own love of nature and concern for the environment.

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Here are a few websites that have great information on outdoor activities:
Parks and Recreation in Limestone County (includes the Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail and Rails to Trails): http://www.limestoneparks.com/
Alabama State Parks: http://alapark.com/
Land Trust of North Alabama: http://www.landtrustnal.org/
By: Lynne Hart