Take a stroll on the newly completed boardwalk at Lakeside Park, overlooking an alluring view of Logan Martin Lake, and it will become obvious why the location is perfect for an outdoor classroom.
The plans for the environmentally friendly viewing deck started in 2009, when the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association (LMLPA) began researching ways to give back to the Logan Martin community. According to Mike Riley, LMLPA president, creating stewardship opportunities was a priority. After performing tedious research, Riley, along with a team of dedicated volunteers, oversaw the completion of the observation boardwalk.
To begin construction of the 70-foot platform, located in the lake’s flood easement, LMLPA worked with Alabama Power’s Shoreline Management to gain approval for the project. Cooperation from the city of Pell City, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and other agencies also made the boardwalk’s construction possible.
Riley and his team traveled across Alabama, from Gadsden to the Gulf Coast, to observe similar projects, in search of the ways to improve the multitude of ideas filling their heads.
With the help of Fred Casey, owner of Tradesman Company, LMLPA began designing an observation boardwalk to maximize the viewing of the wetlands. Tradesman is a Pell City-based company specializing in sundecks, floating piers, boathouses, and seawalls. Riley credits Mark Tow, environmental affairs specialist, for assisting with determining the proper height of the structure for mosquito control, and Jason Power, hydro compliance specialist, for guidance with submitting required documentation to all agencies involved.
While designing the project, the group continued to look for ways to improve. To prevent rotting wood on the Lakeside Park boardwalk, they decided to take on extra expenses for more durable, composite materials. To better the wetlands around the structure, the group incorporated an osprey’s nest and a wood duck box adjacent to the boardwalk.
To help fund the additional design elements to the wetlands boardwalk, LMLPA worked with the city of Pell City and various civic organizations, including Kiwanis Club of Pell City, Pell City Civitan Club, Pell City Garden Club, Rotary Club of Pell City and Daughters of the American Revolution.
This project will enable students, as well as the public, to learn about the wetlands in the area. Schools and universities have already shown intent to use the boardwalk as an outdoor classroom. Soon, signs will be located along the boardwalk to educate onlookers about wildlife and plant life in the wetlands.
The project is not only beneficial for the public but to school systems as well, providing opportunities to educate future generations about the importance of environmental stewardship. “We are proud to be a partner in such an endeavor,” said Rob Coyne, Ragland Shoreline Team Leader.
“The success of this project could not have been competed, or even envisioned, without the full support of Alabama Power’s leadership and its employees,” Riley said.