Keep Broward Beautiful, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Keep Broward Beautiful along with The Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, The Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) and Florida Park Service formed a partnership to conduct the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park Dune Restoration Project. The goal of the project was to educate the community about impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, beach erosion and habitat change, and engage the community to take steps to mitigate these impacts by undertaking and supporting dune restoration projects.

To undertake this project, student volunteers were recruited from Embassy Creek Elementary School’s SOLAR club, or Students for Outdoor Learning, Adventure and Responsibility and the Yellow Wood Learning Center, an alternative Montessori-Based High School. Corporate and civic volunteers were recruited from employees and their families of Waste Management Inc., Kohl’s Department Store, Best Buy, Inc., Allstate Resource Management, Inc., Broward County and the Florida Park Service.

Volunteers received educational presentations about the impacts of climate change, beach erosion, beach and dune ecology and the correct methods in planting dune vegetation. Broward County staff, YEA and the State Park Service worked with the volunteers to prepare and fence off the sites to be restored. Over the course of 3 events held in November and December 2013 and January 2014, volunteers then planted over 5,000 sea, as an effective method to mitigate future beach erosion. Additionally, more than 1000 native dune plants, including Bay Cedar, Beach Creeper, Beach Elder, Beach Sunflower, Beach Verbena, Inkberry, Railroad Vine, Sea Lavender, Sea Oxeye Daisy, Sea Purslane, Wild Allamanda, Wild Sage and Sea Grape trees were planted in the mid and back dune in order to diversify the plant community and improve ecological function of the dune habitat within the park.

The project demonstrates the power of partnership and community engagement in the cleanup and restoration of sand dunes in John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. The involvement of community youth has fostered a sense of personal accomplishment and raised awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship.

Corporate, public, and nonprofit partnerships have been solidified as a result of this project, building a model and formula for success moving forward. As a result, YEA has developed additional partnerships with other coastal municipalities to conduct new community education and volunteer based dune restoration projects in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Keep Highway Park Beautiful – Rescuing a Resting Place

Volunteers from the Interact Club consisting of students from Lake Placid High School and Lake Placid Middle School under the guidance of Deputy Michael Brod joined the Keep Highway Park Beautiful Commission, the Highway Park Neighborhood Council and local volunteers to clear brush and overgrowth from the historic Highway Park Cemetery.

Almost unreadable headstones lay broken, toppled and overgrown by weeds. Large trees with deep roots are shifting monuments and toppling other headstones. “Each of those stones has an interesting story to it and it is important to maintain that piece of our town’s history. We must not let it be buried, literally, again,” said Evelyn Colon, executive director of the Highway Park Neighborhood Council, in appeals to the community to help restore the cemetery.

Over 15 volunteers, most from within the Highway Park Community, came to help with this cleanup. Debris, shrubbery and trash filled 29 over-sized garbage bags. The 20-foot flagpole holding the U.S. flag, which had been damaged in a storm, was removed to be replaced in the very near future. Loose stones were picked up, grass was mowed, weeds trimmed away from the graves, and trees were trimmed.

Unincorporated towns with no budgets have often had little to no money to improve their cemeteries, leading to disrepair, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass, persistent weeds, and no irrigation to sustain flowers or grass. This cleanup is one of many planned activities to restore the Highway Park Cemetery. It is hoped that with this and subsequent efforts, the cemetery will be better preserved to include historic signage and fencing.

The Highway Park Neighborhood Council, Keep Highway Park Beautiful and the Highway Park Ministerial Alliance are working together to beautify and restore dignity to our cemetery. Donations are welcome. For more information or to volunteer, please call Tiffany Green, HPNG president, at 863-840-2995.

Keep Kansas City Beautiful, Kansas City, MO

Keep Kansas City Beautiful’s Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Spotlight Project successfully strengthened the partnership and collaboration between existing Kansas City conservation organizations working on individual goals by combining their missions and expertise to build a five-mile, single-track trail between the Swope Park wilderness trail system through an urban forest to the Blue River Glades wilderness trail system two miles south, while concurrently removing thick stands of invasive exotic shrub honeysuckle to improve the forest’s health and create a more beautiful trail corridor. Project Partners included Keep Kansas City Beautiful (coordination, litter abatement), Kansas City WildLands (focusing on natural area restoration), Earth Riders Trails Association (focusing on wilderness hike/bike trails), Missouri Department of Conservation, Kansas City Parks and Recreation and Jackson County Parks and Recreation (natural resource and land managers of the Project site). In addition to building trail, the Project included removing thick stands of invasive shrub honeysuckle that choked out the woodland’s biodiversity and created visual barriers along the trail corridors.

Over 200 volunteers from schools, neighborhoods and corporations participated in a series of workdays that addressed litter and dump-site cleanup, invasive shrub honeysuckle removal along the trail corridor, and the flagging, cutting and finishing of single-track trail from Swope Park to Blue River Glades (approximately eight miles of trail corridor total). Engaging so many volunteers in the trail-cutting and honeysuckle removal over several workdays served not only to provide the labor-intensive work involved (work that is beyond the resource capacity of budget-confined Parks Departments), but also to connect these volunteers to the land through education and hands-on work, resulting in the long term sustainability of the project through new committed stakeholders.

By connecting the Swope Park and Blue River Glades wilderness areas via new trail (and significantly increasing the contiguous length of trail), and by removing thick stands of invasive shrub honeysuckle from the trail corridor, the project’s partners have provided an important venue for Kansas City urban and suburban citizens to connect to a healthy natural wild place, and to find their “sense of place” within the city. We believe the connector trail/woodland restoration is now safer for hiking and biking. We hope the healthier and more aesthetically-pleasing public forest and accessible trail will engage and inspire Kansas City citizens for decades to come!

Keep Alvin Beautiful, Alvin, Texas

Keep Alvin Beautiful received a $5,000 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant to beautify Alvin’s “Ugly Corner.”

As you come across the railroad tracks to downtown on the left is our restored 1907 Historic Alvin Train Depot surrounded by a copy of the original pipe and post fence, crepe myrtles, and knock-out roses. On the left is the “Ugly Corner.” The City of Alvin is leasing the corner from BNSF railroad and Keep Alvin Beautiful is working with the City to make the entryway into Alvin beautiful. Wrought iron fencing was added first, then a 60-foot section of the pipe and post fence, and a sidewalk. Using our grant, we worked with a landscape architect and a landscaper to install two 45-foot beds with crepe myrtles and knock-out roses.

Our next project involves putting Austin stone columns in the corner on both sides of the street and by the tracks with a small plant bed. This will make a grand entryway into our historic downtown.

Keep Martin Beautiful, Palm City, FL

We began the Indian Mound Cemetery Beautification Project earlier this year thanks to in part to the support we received from the Lowe’s Charitable & Educational Foundation, Keep America Beautiful and many community supporters. The cemetery has been neglected for many years, and Keep Martin Beautiful felt the need to help beautify this historic piece of the community. So far, fencing has been repaired, mulch has been placed, weeds and invasive plants have been removed and benches have been installed.

In addition to what has already been done, we are preparing to replace damaged grave markers, plant flowers and we also have plans to repair an old well that is at the location. Keep Martin Beautiful is dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life in Martin County, and we believe that this project will allow us to continue preserving our county’s history while creating an attractive, comfortable environment for those visiting family members buried in Indian Mound Cemetery.

Keep Vermilion County Beautiful

Keep Vermilion County Beautiful, Danville, IL
Local volunteers worked long hours for months to redesign and revamp a desolate, empty lot which housed a building that burned down many years ago into a beautiful resource for the community to gather.

Many things were added to this lot that weren’t previously there before, including, water lines, electricity, rock walls, trees, shrubs, flowers, etc. The area was completely renovated.

Keep Virginia Beautiful, Glen Allen, VA

Keep Virginia Beautiful’s “30 Grants in 30 Days” was a great success in 2013! Our nearly 3,000 volunteers worked tirelessly to make the 30 projects a great success, cleaning up 14,057 pounds of debris; planting 705 plants and 109 trees; and installing 25 gardens. Keep Virginia Beautiful would like to thank Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for their sponsorship of our “30 in 30″ program in 2013!

Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful, Abingdon, VA

A Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant is assisting Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful with development of Stone Creek Outdoor Classroom and Community Park in Lee County. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful received a $20,000 Lowe’s/KAB grant. This funding is added to the $196,000 previously awarded to Upper Tennessee River Roundtable from other sources for the project, which is located on a former coal transfer station site near St. Charles.

The Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant is paying for fencing, walking trail, signs, trash and ash receptacles, plants and flowers. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful and Upper Tennessee River Roundtable are partnering with the Lowe’s store in Abingdon on this project. AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps River 6 Team assisted with the project for two weeks along with several community volunteers. Various agency personnel also have assisted with several work days at the site.

The outdoor classroom and community park site is located adjacent to Straight Creek near St. Charles in the Stone Creek community. Upper Tennessee River Roundtable initially received a $166,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant for land acquisition, reclamation, stream restoration and outdoor classroom development. The Roundtable purchased the land and transferred ownership to Lee County with the assistance of Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds came from a settlement established after a toxic spill into a tributary to the Powell River. Straight Creek is also a tributary to the Powell River and is home to endangered species. This region is considered to be a hotspot of biodiversity.

Next steps involved restoring the stream and stabilizing the stream bank, which took place in August and September. Additional grant assistance for this phase was provided by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and another grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Upper Tennessee River Roundtable also secured grants from Appalachian Coal Country Team Reforestation Project and LG&E KU Plant for the Planet to buy trees. Pizza Inn of Abingdon donated more than a case of pizza boxes that were used for molds to create stepping stones during community workshops. Trex (R) donated two recycled park benches that have been installed on stepping stones that were created for the site.

The Roundtable is a nonprofit watershed organization focusing on pollution prevention and improvement projects for the Clinch, Powell and Holston rivers in Southwest Virginia, all part of the Upper Tennessee River drainage. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful is the largest regional nonprofit affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and includes nine counties and two cities also working in the Upper Tennessee drainage as well as the Big Sandy River Basin.

For more information, contact Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful at 276-628-1600.