CULLMAN, Ala. – The Attorney General’s Restitution Fund Oversite Committee met at three different locations on Saturday to announce projects that are being planned to improve access to the Mulberry and Sipsey Forks of the Black Warrior River. The committee and local leaders met at the sites in Colony, Garden City and Forks in the River at Sipsey for the announcements. The projects are taking place in areas most affected by the Tyson Farms rendering plant wastewater discharge in 2019 that killed an estimated 175,000 fish and damaged the river’s ecosystem.
The projects will be funded by the lawsuit settlement reached against Tyson Farms for more than $3 million which includes the funding of $1.5 million in projects for the benefit of communities in Walker and Cullman counties that will be directed by the five-member Restitution Fund Oversight Committee named by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Oversite Committee Chairman Ed Poolos said that all members agreed on one thing: “We wanted to make sure these projects were on the river for the people that were impacted.”
The projects planned at each site include:
- Forks in the River, near Sipsey: Expand parking area and construct a dock, pavilion and restroom facility.
- Town of Colony access: construct a gravel road and parking area, which will give residents direct access to the river for the first time.
- Garden City Park: riverfront clean up with new kayak launch area, add new restroom facility and create hiking trail.
At Garden City River Park, Senator Gudger spoke about the importance of the site as an entrance to the river, saying, “This will be the place that everybody comes to start going in the river, and where everyone will have memories made just like my family did when we got baptized here.”
The cost of the three projects has not reached even half of the settlement amount. Poolos stated, “The three sets of projects that we announced today are only the first.”
Poolos took a moment to thank the members of the team who made the settlement possible, “The only way we got to an end to a settlement is with good scientific data and good work collecting and categorizing the fish, so the staff at ADCNR that had to do the hard work out there after the spill of counting the fish and trying to figure out exactly how much damage was done, I want to say thank you to them.”
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