Angie and Bill Shugart have devoted much of their lives to sharing and preserving the beauty of the unique Little River, which flows through the mountains of northeast Alabama. They founded Little River Waterkeeper in 2012 with the mission “to foster and protect the pristine resource through education, awareness and monitoring,” and since 2008 they’ve run One World Adventure, an outdoor education and eco-tourism nonprofit on the Little River. Bill and Angie were even married on Little River’s shores and raised their family there.
In August, Little River Waterkeeper and Alabama Rivers Alliance launched a campaign to Keep Little River Wild; they aim to permanently protect this special river with a federal Wild and Scenic designation which ensures that community members and tourists can swim, fish, paddle, and camp the river for years to come.
“Something About Little River,” directed by Jeb Brackner, stars the Shugart family and won the “Best Nature Documentary Award” at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival in Fall 2019:
A Wild and Scenic designation would offer countless benefits to northeastern Alabama, such as:
- Increased property value for home and small business owners near the river
- National exposure, leading to increased eco-tourism supporting small businesses and job growth
- Permanent protection of a beautiful free-flowing river for future generations to enjoy
- Active river management and engagement by the National Parks Service
- An intact and healthy Little River ecosystem
Little River qualifies for a Wild and Scenic designation with flying colors; it is free-flowing, pristine, used recreationally and is of cultural importance to the region.
In order to achieve the designation, Little River Waterkeeper and Alabama Rivers Alliance must build public support and work with local, state and federal elected officials. Typically, Members of Congress then initiate a Wild and Scenic study, introduce the bill, and pass it to the President to be signed into law.
There are around 230 rivers in the United States with Wild and Scenic designations but only one in Alabama, on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River. The Wild and Scenic designation at Sipsey Fork provided nearby towns with national exposure, growth in the outdoor recreation industry, and an increase of eco-tourists.
Waterkeeper Alliance supports Little River Waterkeeper and Alabama Rivers Alliance’s campaign for a Wild and Scenic Designation on Alabama’s Little River. You can support their campaign, too:
Sign the petition and learn more at keeplittleriverwild.org.
Feature image by Kevin Garrett Photography.