Scofield bill may aid weed war

Scofield bill may aid weed war

State Sen. Clay Scofield was present at TVA’s Aquatic Plant Management Media Update last week to see the influential and invasive aquatic life of Lake Guntersville first-hand. He also explained a bill he got through the legislature could benefit solutions to issues on and within the water.

“This legislation sets up the Alabama Reservoir Grant Fund, the first of its kind in Alabama,” Sen. Scofield said when explaining this legislation. This bill would be funded off of boat fees and boat tax, generating roughly $1.2-$1.3 million per year that can be used by local entities. The fund also presents itself as a “50/50 match,” so TVA could partner with the state to come up with the match money, per Sen. Scofield’s suggestion.

The bill adds a $5 fee to the cost of a boat registration in Alabama.

Sen. Scofield stated that the program’s funds can go towards three things: aquatic weed management, navigation, and debris cleanup.

“We’re very worried about invasive species such as the Asian carp… [and in terms of debris cleanup], in the case of a weather event such as a hurricane and we need channels cleaned out, or if we hold a lake activity and there’s debris in the reservoir, we can clean that up,” Sen. Scofield said.

This bill absolutely matters to Guntersville’s voters, according to the Senator.

“We set it up as a use fee, the fairest form of funding,” Sen. Scofield said, “so people who are enjoying the waters whether it be for fishing or recreation, they are helping maintain our reservoirs, which is, in my opinion, one of our most important resources that we have particularly here in Guntersville, Marshall and Jackson Counties, and in North Alabama as a whole.”

He also mentioned that the coast is very important, and the state’s coastal waters have a lot of economic activity with shrimpers and fishermen, so this bill benefits the entire state in this perspective.

“This model can definitely be used in other locations,” Sen. Scofield said, stating how it can be replicated anywhere with the right teamwork. “[This program] is a perfect model that can be used to work in partnership with TVA and the State, especially being run by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who do an excellent job and will continue to do so. [This process also involves] our locals and government officials. It’s a team effort to make sure we are safe-guarding our reservoirs.”

TVA’s Stephen Turner expressed gratitude at the prospect of funding for such an important battle in Lake Guntersville. “It’s been a long time coming,” Turner commented, “and to see our efforts come to fruition is very satisfying.

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