The volunteers, consisting of authority employees, family members and friends, braved cold and drizzly weather on April 19 to celebrate the forthcoming Earth Day, which is recognized annually on April 22, since being established in 1970 as an environmental protection and awareness event.
Authority organizers estimated that volunteers were able to clear two miles of the river trail during the cleanup.
The outdoor education center is the focal point of outdoor education and public recreation provided by the authority.
Thousands of guests visit the center annually for school field trips, fishing and hunting events, as well as group outings to the campus that features an interpretive center, meeting room, outdoor classrooms, two constructed trails, and the authority reservoirs office. The Cubihatcha loop trail is two miles in length and open to the public year-round.
The trail typically is open from April to October, though past Department of Transportation construction of the bridge at Highway 155, coupled with storms that have damaged boardwalks along the trail, have caused the authority to close this amenity temporarily.
The hope is that the Earth Day Cleanup will go a long way toward allowing the Cubihatcha staff to re-open the trail to the public soon, according to Chuck McCarter, reservoir manager.
Constructed in 1999, the outdoor education center is a wetland enhancement and protection corridor built to improve and protect existing wildlife habitats, while also providing avenues for public education and light recreation.
The authority developed the center after the adoption of a wetlands mitigation plan, which was implemented during construction of the authority’s reservoir network.
The authority owns and operates five drinking water reservoirs, with three visible or accessible from the center.
Cubihatcha, which is a Native American reference for “land between the lakes,” encompasses about 1,000 contiguous acres of bottomland, hardwood and forested uplands.
Aside from the limited clearing of trees for construction of the education center and authority reservoir office, as well as the raised wooden boardwalks, trails and outdoor classrooms, Cubihatcha has been left in its natural state, as preserved green space of the authority. Authority spokesman Chris Wood said the center will be hosting several community events this season.
“Thus, the timing of the Earth Day Cubihatcha Cleanup was ideal, as the efforts will benefit those guests who will be visiting over the course of the next few months,” he said in a statement.
The Cubihatcha staff also took part in the recent south metro Children’s Water Festival to celebrate national Drinking Water Week in May.