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Volunteers Offer Helping Hands on the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama

Wild South Helping Hands volunteers work together to remove fallen trees from the Bankhead National Forest.

Wild South Helping Hands volunteers work together to remove fallen trees from the Bankhead National Forest.

For numerous years, the Bankhead National Forest has worked in partnership with a group of dedicated volunteers known as the Wild South Helping Hands Volunteer Group.

Every year, more than 50 volunteers return to the Bankhead National Forest to help protect and restore the native ecosystem of the southeast.

Volunteers from the Wild South Helping Hands Volunteer Group devoted more than 400 hours recently to help the forest maintain approximately 15 miles of trails, remove tons of rubbish and clear several illegal dumping sites. In addition, the “Helping Hands” volunteers planted trees, installed signs, improved glade and rock outcrop communities and inventoried canyon corridors.

The group also completed a non-native invasive species inventory for the Sipsey Wilderness Area.  Invasive species are detrimental to many native species and their established habitats.  Based on the inventory results, volunteers are now helping the forest remove non-native invasive plants such as privet and kudzu throughout the Bankhead National Forest.  A difficult task, the effort requires many hours of manual labor since removal relies solely on the use of hand tools to comply with wilderness regulations.

This week is also National Volunteer Week with a Presidential proclamation asking Americans to observe the week by volunteering in service projects across the country and pledging to make service part of their daily lives.  On the Bankhead National Forest, this pledge to service from dedicated assistance of volunteers allows visitors to the forest to continue to enjoy the natural beauty the forest has to offer.

President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation deeming this week National Volunteer Week, encouraging every American to observe the week by volunteering in service projects across the country and pledging to make service part of their daily lives.  To get started on a project near you, visit www.Serve.gov.

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