The first step is the Red Bird Restoration Project. This project intends to improve the ecology of Red Bird River area.
The Kentucky Waterways Alliance wants to hear from people in Clay, Leslie and Bell counties and other partners to ask what impacts the quality of the water/natural resources and how those resources be sustained while enhancing economic benefits.
Neighbors came to come up with a plan to improve the quality of life in the Red Bird area, starting with one necessary resource.
“The water quality affects everything in our lives, it directly affects our own health, the health of our families and our pets, and our livestock,” said Tessa Edelen of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.
Certain people who live in the area have expressed concerns at the first meeting about the water shed planning affecting more than just the water they drink.
“The local folks and the people in this group were really interested in water quality and fish habitat and wildlife,” said Jon Walker of the U.S. Forest Service. Walker works at the Daniel Boone National Forest as a hydrologist.
Walker said that the improvement for the fish and wildlife could result in economic gains for the region as it could draw in tourists.
Areas of the Red Bird River are sometimes not safe to fish or swim in. State and local officials decided the best way to fix this would be a drainage basin or water shed plan.
“A water shed plan is just a tool that we use to see what is going on in a water shed, affecting water quality and see how that we can fix it,” said Edelen.
One scientist at the meeting identified the issue as a pathogen problem but could not specify if it was from humans or animals at this time. Further testing will help them identify the issues.
Officials from Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE) said that people can contribute to the problems by not properly disposing of their waste.
“Garbage dumps are located on the creek banks, behind the houses and the creeks,” said Chris Reid, the Clay County Solid Waste Coordinator.
Reid is also a PRIDE representative. He said that places that are not traveled a lot have also had a lot of dumps on them.
“We have been cleaning up a series of illegal dumps that are associated in the Barr Creek area which directly runs into the Red Bird Water Shed,” said Mark Davis, a field representative for PRIDE.
Davis and Reid both agreed that restoration is what the region needs, but the education for future generations is important.
“They need to be taught,” said Davis.
Forest and KWA officials said that with a water shed plan, they could apply for grants that could provide the funds necessary for clean up and restoration efforts.
KWA officials said that they cannot do it without the input and help from the community.
“We may study water but only the people who live around here know about it best,” said Edelen.
For more information to get involved, contact Tessa Edelen at email@example.com, call KWA at (502) 589-8008, or visit http://www.kwalliance.org