During the fifth stop of the 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, FLW Outdoors contributed $5,000 to local fisheries-enhancement needs through the FishAmerica Foundation, as it does at every tour destination. The May 11-14 pro bass-fishing event on Wheeler Lake yielded another $500 for the cause through fans and competitors who purchased special wristbands.
New in 2005, FLW Outdoors, FAF and BP-Castrol are administering a conservation program through which the wristbands, which signify support for the preservation and restoration of America's great fisheries, are sold for a minimum of $1 each. Proceeds are donated to a local fisheries-enhancement project.
The $5,500 donation to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will pay for the placement of underwater structure near a fishing dock and day-use area in Joe Wheeler State Park where many people fish from shore. Park employees will submerge treetops and wooden pallets this fall to attract fish to these areas.
Northwest Alabama Parks District Superintendent Tim Haney said: "I have a lot of shoreline fishermen, and I have basically one dock that's dedicated to fishing. Through the donation, we can make available a project that's going to bring fish in to the bank fishermen."
Large treetops of fallen or felled trees from within Joe Wheeler State Park will be combined with wooden pallets to provide the submerged habitat. According to Haney, the pallets can last from five to seven years underwater, and even after the outermost branches of the treetops deteriorate, a significant base structure is left to provide structure for fish.
"It's something fairly substantial," Haney said. "These aren't just little treetops."
Such structure is relatively inexpensive, so most of the donation will go toward paying for the labor. Haney said he plans to keep on some of his seasonal staff past summer to work on the project this fall.
When the FLW Tour visited Wheeler Lake in 2002, the $5,000 donation was used to resurrect an annual "kids' fishing rodeo" at Joe Wheeler State Park that had been on hiatus for the preceding few years due to lack of funds, Haney said. A subsequent donation made by FLW Outdoors after the 2003 Forrest Wood Open at Wheeler Lake paid for the children's fishing event that year and left enough funds to pay for the 2005 event as well, taking place this weekend at the state park. This year's rodeo is being administered by park officials in conjunction with Wal-Mart's national youth fishing program, an annual event.
The wristband portion of the donation was made possible through the corporate support of BP-Castrol. Castrol has been an FLW Outdoors sponsor since 2002 and continues to find ways to give back to the community.
The next opportunity to support the new conservation program will be at the June 22-25 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open presented by Kellogg's on the Potomac River. All donations received at the tournament will benefit a local fishery.
FLW Outdoors is an organization devoted to giving something back to the communities that host its tournaments. As it has in the past, FLW Outdoors will continue to donate a minimum of $5,000 at each of its seven Wal-Mart FLW Tour events in 2005 as well as at a variety of its other tournaments.
In 2000, FLW Outdoors announced its partnership with the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association. Since then, FLW Outdoors has directly donated nearly $250,000 and helped to generate more than $1 million for local conservation projects.
"It's our job to ensure that we leave a fishery in better condition than when we arrive," said Charlie Evans, president and CEO of FLW Outdoors. "We do this by maintaining an extremely high live-release rate and by contributing funds for conservation efforts in the host cities where our tournaments are held. Our long-term relationship with the FishAmerica Foundation demonstrates our commitment to continually improving America's finest waters."
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America's largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit http://www.FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.