The recent 75 degree temperatures were such a welcome change last week! After some brutally cold days and nights (and even a foot of snow in December), we were ready to hit the swamps and get back to work! Our “down time” is normally from November - March. When the temperatures start to rise, we are on the lookout for alligators! We were happy to spend several days in Brunswick County, the place we
love so much.
A friend of ours had told us how far the water was down at Orton Pond. The state is still doing repairs on the damage from the hurricanes last fall. We pick up more trash at Orton Pond than we do in ALL of the habitats in Brunswick County combined. There is a huge problem with people feeding the alligators there. Not only do they illegally feed them, they throw their trash at them.
We normally clean Orton Pond with custom made, extra long grabbers that my husband makes. They do an excellent job and enable us to get in areas without getting in the water. Since the water was down, my husband climbed down the banks of the pond to get to the trash. Even though it was very warm, the alligators are still in brumation. I still kept an eye out on the water for any approaching alligators. We took some photos of the trash that we were able to get to and we’ll post them in this blog. One aluminum can had alligator teeth marks all over it.
Not only does the trash make the pond look bad, it is bad for our ecosystem and all of our wildlife. It is an eye sore and it is a danger to the wildlife that calls Orton Pond their home. We’ve been cleaning alligator habitats since 2010 and we picked up so much trash that we literally had no place to put it. That is one of the reasons we became involved in the NC Adopt-A-Highway Program. They provide free orange trash bags, gloves and vests. They also pick up all of the trash that we collect. It is a great way to volunteer and give back to the community.
Which brings me to a subject that I’ve been meaning to address … we had previously adopted a two mile stretch of Midway Road (the road that leads from Highway 211 to Oak Island). That is a four lane road and there’s not anything on it. When we first
adopted it, it wasn’t too bad. As the months went by, more and more trash was being thrown out there. It didn’t get mowed very often and we couldn’t pick up trash when the grass was nearly knee high. Then when they did mow it, the trash got cut up into thousands of pieces.
When you adopt a road you agree to pick up the trash four times per year (every three months). We were picking up trash about once a month on Midway Road and still couldn’t stay caught up. We were struggling to keep it clean and it worried me that we couldn’t keep up our end of the contract. The final straw was when someone complained about us last fall. They called Fran at the DOT and told her (we) Alligator Alliance hadn’t been picking up trash on Midway Road. Fran told them that we had picked up more trash than what was required of our contract. That complaint forced me to make a decision. I had to let the NC Adopt-A-Highway contract expire on Midway Road.
My cousin Sheila adopted the other two mile stretch of Midway Road shortly after we adopted ours. We both were excited to keep Midway Road clean. Unfortunately, last week someone complained about her half of the road. Since the G.V. Barbee Bridge closed last October, the only way onto Oak Island is by Midway Road and Swain’s Cut Bridge. The trash situation has gotten even worse on Midway Road since the bridge closure. Sheila told me that due to the complaint she received last week, she has made the decision to end her contract as well.
Since we (Alligator Alliance) and Sheila (Seaside Crabby Chic Art) have both made the decision to end our contracts on Midway Road, now no one will be picking up the trash there (unless someone new adopts that road). We don’t know who complained about us, but I just want to let that person know that we worked really hard to keep that road clean. We don’t even live in Brunswick County. We drive 220+ miles to volunteer to keep roads clean. Adopting a road and keeping the trash picked up isn’t easy work, but it’s rewarding. We honestly did our best to keep the trash picked up. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. My hope is that a large group of people will adopt Midway Road, because it is the road most tourists take to Oak Island. I don’t want their first impressions to be of a litter strewn road.
I’ve been promising everyone for the past two years that I was going to write a children’s book. It is complete and you will be able to read it very soon. We have been contacting publishers for the past few months and trying to figure out the best (and cheapest) way to make it available for everyone. Our hope is to have it available by the end of next month (March).
We are also working on new brochures and t-shirts. We will be meeting with our t-shirt printer next week. The brochures are still a work in progress, but we will have all the changes made and have them printed by April 1st. We have had many requests for Alligator Alliance stickers. We have designed one and we are currently shopping around for the best price to get them printed. As always, we like to hand stuff out for free. When I started Alligator Alliance I never meant for it to be a way to make money. We do what we do because we love alligators.
Thank you for your continued support. We had a LOT of exposure last year from our articles in North Brunswick Magazine (we made the front cover!) and Carolina Country Magazine. We are very excited (and hopeful) that we will be featured in another magazine this spring or summer. We were recently contacted by a major magazine and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will follow through with an article about us.
We want to thank our friends Dawn and Jeff who often let us stay in their guest cottage on Oak Island! We take a lot of spur-of-the-moment trips based on the weather. When I texted Dawn to see if her cottage was available, she told me that someone else was in it at the moment. Then she told me we were more than welcome to stay at her parent’s vacation home on the island. That worked out perfectly! We are blown away by the kindness and generosity of others and very thankful to Dawn and her parents!
Remember, ONE person CAN make a difference. Be that ONE person. Make the difference. Choose your own path. My path is through the swamps! As always, swamp water runs through my veins.