SMITH LAKE — Volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance have broken ground on a new public use weigh-in pavilion at Smith Lake, part of a partnership between B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power.
The pavilion will feature water access and the capacity to hold fish tanks to help reduce stress on fish and increase release survival rates at the weigh-in site. The covered facility also will provide shade for the tournament weigh-in ceremonies.
“This pavilion will provide a much-needed place for organizations to hold their weigh-ins, from local bass clubs to the largest Bassmaster Opens tournaments,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Alabama Power's support of this project, combined with the engineering expertise donated by the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources as part of their larger boat ramp renovation project and the incredible construction skills of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers are very much appreciated.”
The facility at the Lewis Smith Lake Dam Boat Ramp will be used by local recreational anglers, as well as high school, college, amateur and professional tournaments.
Construction on the project is being done by skilled volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, who see the project as an opportunity for their members to unite with the local community through conservation of outdoor heritage.
“We’re proud to partner with B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power on this project, which will benefit Smith Lake anglers for years to come,” said Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “Our union volunteers are passionate about the outdoors and conservation, and they enjoy sharing their time and trade skills giving back to their communities.”
“As part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and a high school fishing coach, I am proud to see this project underway and excited about the positive impact it will have on the fast-growing high school fishing circuit,” said Casey Shelton, Business Manager, IBEW System Council U-19.
The Smith Lake pavilion is the second tournament B.A.S.S. pavilion. In 2014, B.A.S.S., Alabama Power, the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Shelby County and volunteers from the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation teamed up to open a weigh-in pavilion at Beeswax Landing on Lay Lake.
“We are thrilled to work with B.A.S.S., the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and the local community to construct this pavilion that will enhance this access point on Smith Lake,” said Zeke Smith, Alabama Power Executive Vice President of External Affairs. “We look forward to it opening and playing a part in showcasing the State of Alabama’s beautiful waterways.”
The project is expected to be completed in early spring.
“This is a great example of a diverse group of entities coming together to achieve one goal. We are proud to be a part of this project and continue our mission of accessibility to the natural resources of our great state,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources.