Stewards of Lake Seminole organization begins information and membership drive campaign

Published 11:05 am Thursday, October 27, 2022

The mission of the recently formed organization, Stewards of Lake Seminole, is to secure funding as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to manage invasive species in Lake Seminole, in a collaborative but timely manner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for the benefit of property owners on Lake Seminole, bordering communities, and the federal, state, and local governments that benefit from the recreation, revenue and taxes that the Lake Seminole resource generates.

Three kick-off informational and membership drive meetings have been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 1st, at the Seminole State Park Meeting Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 2nd, at the Lions Hall in Donalsonville, and 7 p.m. Thursday, November 3rd, at the Cloud Livestock Building in Bainbridge.

Everyone interested in becoming a Steward of Lake Seminole is encouraged to attend and bring a friend to one of the three meetings.

Steve Dickman, Founder, President, and Executive Director of Stewards of Lake Seminole, offered the following.

“I fell in love with Lake Seminole when I first moved to South Georgia in 1977. It filled my heart and helped sustain my sanity as I traveled the world and dealt with the stresses of building a career. During that time, I watched that dynamic ecosystem grow, evolve, and provide millions of hours of enjoyment to millions of people. Including my family and me!

Aquatic vegetation is essential for a dynamic ecosystem and for sustaining our fantastic fishery. Management, not eradication, is what we seek. Balance is the key to delivering the maximum value to the stakeholders. Significant areas of Lake Seminole have become unusable for fish, wildlife, and recreators. The need for ecosystem restoration is now! In 2021, tourism exceeded $68 million for Seminole and Decatur counties. Lake Seminole is a critical financial resource – tourism, recreation activities, property owner’s investments, taxes, and much more for our communities. More importantly, the memories created with our children, grandchildren, and friends are priceless.”

The group plans to identify, through a diverse team of knowledgeable stakeholders, areas of Lake Seminole negatively impacted by invasive species and requiring consideration for immediate corrective action. Once identified, we will collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and propose solutions for consideration and approval to secure permits. Once permitted, we will contract with a licensed aquatic herbicide applicator, provide oversight of the application and communicate results to our communities. Concurrently, we will educate the communities on the issues negatively affecting their valuable resource.

Dickman added, “The Federal Government has never viewed Lake Seminole as the valuable resource that it is to the communities of South Georgia and North Florida. I founded the Stewards of Lake Seminole Inc. to help fill the gaps not being covered by funding from the Federal Government.”

The organization’s goal is to raise $250,000.00 by April 2023 to fund specific projects that demonstrate the organization’s capabilities, the support and resolve of the communities, and the value the organization will deliver. For the recreators, Stewards will endeavor to keep the channels navigable. For the property owners, the group will endeavor to pursue the management of grasses around boat docks not targeted by the Corps of Engineers. For the business owners and communities, Stewards will endeavor to provide leadership that will enhance tourism spending and the economic impact on the communities. Finally, we will begin to restore ecosystems being devastated by Cuban Bullrush, Hydrilla, Water Hyacinths, and other invasives.

Stewards of Lake Seminole annual sponsorship levels include Bronze – $50; Silver (family) – $100; Gold (property owner)- $500; Platinum (founder) – $1000; Diamond (corporate) – $5000. A $5000 Diamond level contribution will include the business’s logo on the website, Benefactor – Unlimited $$ contribution.

To join or for additional information, visit stewardsoflakeseminole.com or contact Dickman directly at srdickman@bellsouth.net