2 min read
Girl scouts clean up a creek.

Many hands make light work, so the saying goes. Community partners put this saying to the test by coming together for a workday to clear the way for the Creekline Trails of Opelika’s pilot trail system on Waverly Parkway. On Saturday, November 5, 2022 Creekline Trails of Opelika collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce 20 under 40, Auburn University Water Resources Center, the Southeast Conservation Corps, City of Opelika, and Keep Opelika Beautiful, as well as local citizen volunteers.

With a lot of team effort, this group worked together to host a large clean up event at the new trail site. The new trail system now under construction will include a main paved multi-use path, nature paths and more. The trail system is funded in part by a recently-awarded state grant combined with city matching funds and local donations. The Pepperell Branch-Waverly Trail will provide more than a mile of trails along a scenic stretch of Pepperell Branch Creek.

While one group cleaned Pepperell Branch Creek, the stream that runs alongside the new trail system, another group helped clear out an old pump house site that may one day be a scenic rest stop along the trail system.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension Water Program helped write the Pepperell Branch Watershed Plan, a comprehensive planning document that helps the community identify and address priority areas to improve local water quality. Learn more about the Pepperell Branch Watershed Plan here. The litter pickup furthered community efforts clean the waterways.

It’s amazing how much work can get done when community partnerships take place. With community momentum, volunteers were able to clear over 27 bags of trash, 12 tires, multiple plastic chairs and cars, old pipes and other debris.

Partnerships

Opelika’s 20 Under 40 program is made up of 20 outstanding people under the age of 40 who live in Opelika, love Opelika, and have a vested interest in shaping the direction of this city’s future. This year, the group selected the Creekline Trails of Opelika for their service project. The group will work on clearing debris and creating a more friendly seating destination for pedestrians.

By working with the Auburn University Water Resources Center and Keep Opelika Beautiful, the 20 Under 40 group was able to leverage their project into an even larger cleanup event. Litter often gets washed into water ways via storm drains or illegal dumping, creek cleanups like this help protect local water resources.

The Auburn University Water Resources Center operates several outreach programs like Alabama Watershed Stewards and Alabama Water Watch that aim to educate and inform people about water stewardship and ways they can get involved in making a difference locally. Keep Opelika Beautiful facilitates various beautification and cleanup activities across Opelika.

Creekline Trails of Opelika, a citizen-driven project operating under Envision Opelika, led this collaboration of local groups and volunteers and sponsored a trail construction crew from the Southeast Conservation Corp (SECC).

“We have a lot of work ahead of us especially heading into 2023,” said Mike Akins, coordinator of Creekline Trails of Opelika. “As we get trail construction underway, participation by all these local volunteers and key collaborating groups makes a big difference. We are so grateful to see so much interest and energy.”

As the Creekline Trails of Opelika continues to make progress on providing trail access to the greater public, it’s clear that community partnerships can make long term progress both feasible and fun.

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