Rotary Club of Birmingham Honored as Water Conservationist of the Year by AWF
The celebration of the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards continues!
While the Freshwater Land Trust brought home the AWF Conservation Organization of the Year Award, the Rotary Club of Birmingham was also honored as Water Conservationist of the Year Award for their outstanding efforts with the Rotary Trail and the numerous water quality benefits associated with this transformational project.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Rotary Club of Birmingham partnered with the Freshwater Land Trust to build Rotary Trail – a 4 block linear park in the old historical railroad cut between north and south Birmingham in the middle of the city, connecting Railroad Park to Sloss Furnaces and expanding the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System. The Rotary Club wanted a project that would benefit our community’s health, improve the natural environment, encourage development and provide educational opportunities to area children. The Rotary Trail addresses each of these goals and will be a lasting gift to the City of Birmingham forever.
Birmingham Rotary members raised over $3.5 million for the project and have now partnered with the City of Birmingham for its construction and future maintenance. This public/private partnership will not only support outdoor family recreation, but also improve our community’s water quality through an appropriate storm water drainage system.
The historic “cut” is an abandoned rail line that is 16 ft below street level plagued by crumbing concrete and graffiti. Although mostly hidden from view, this site was a forgotten part of Birmingham, relatively unknown to most observers. The century old “cut” only served as a water waste land, draining nonpoint source pollution from the streets of Birmingham directly into Valley Creek.
The trail’s new design raises the grade of the cut to approximately 6 feet. The new trail, along with the green vegetation located along its corridor, will now allow for the filtration of sediment, oil, pollution and other storm water runoff before it flows into Valley Creek and eventually into one of our primary drinking water sources, the Black Warrior River. The new Rotary Trail is helping to make one of the largest positive impacts on our community’s water quality in recent history.
To celebrate our partners bringing home these two awards, FWLT Executive Director Wendy Jackson and Cheryl Morgan were asked to speak to the Rotary Club the following week. Governor Bentley was in attendance as well as Attorney General Luther Strange, while Wendy and Cheryl discussed the Rotary Trail project and their recent honors at the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards.
We’re proud to share this success story with the Rotary Club of Birmingham and all our partners and supporters who are helping bring the Rotary Trail to Birmingham!