The land surrounding the creek and lake formed by the dam are presently owned by a private company and leased to a hunting club. Some local residents are upset about not having access to the lake created.
“I’ve fished all these watersheds but the best fishing is Sycamore watershed,” constable Doyle Johnson said.
Lifelong Sycamore resident Leon Carpenter said as kids he and others fished in the creek and bathed in it during the summer.
“We’re not trying to make anybody mad or trying to be ugly or vulgar,” Carpenter said. “We just want our creek back.”
Officially known as site four, the dam is part of the Tallaseehatchee Watershed program that is responsible for the creation of other lakes in the area, including Lake Virginia.
Talladega County Commission administrator Wayne Hall said the commission is concerned about the issue. A copy of the original maintenance agreement has been given to county attorney Barry Vaughn, who said he has requested more information and until the information is received he can’t issue an opinion.
Local landowners John Hancock Timber is also preparing a response.
Brooks Wall, area forester, said he is investigating the issue but a response will not be ready until next week.
National Resource Conservation Service’s representative Thomas McDaniel offers an explanation for some of the controversy surrounding the access issue.
Some local residents claim taxpayers paid for the dam’s construction and the county maintains the property; therefore they say they should have access to the watershed just as they have access to the other watersheds in the system.
McDaniel said the property south of the dam once belonged to the Forestry Service but since that time has been involved in a land swap with a private business. The dam and property north of the dam has always been privately owned, he said.
Coosa Valley Resource and Development has a contract with Talladega County to maintain 17 watersheds in the county, McDaniel said. “We have an agreement for egress and ingress to inspect the dams, maintain them and mow the grass, but we don’t own the rights to access the dam.
“We put up the barricades,” McDaniel said. “People were riding four-wheelers up and down and across the dam, tearing it up.”
Annual inspections are made to check for rutting and general repairs, McDaniel said. Five year inspections include taking cross-sections to check for structural issues.
Carpenter and others have organized a meeting to those interested in “reclaiming access to the Sycamore Watershed.”
The meeting will take place today at 8 a.m. across the road from the Sycamore post office. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be served.
For more information, call 256-404-3233.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org