Helping hands
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Volunteers from the Twin Lakes Audubon Society hold up their banner, along with several bags of litter they collected during their Make a Difference Day project at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 24. (Photo Credit: Scott Summers, Fort Hood DPW) VIEW ORIGINAL
Bird watching
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Dan Kelch, vice president of the Twin Lakes Audubon Society, points to a bird in the distance so fellow volunteer Deidre Dawson can see it with her binoculars at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 24. The pair were members of a volunteer team helping to clean up a pond for a Make a Difference Day project on the installation with the post's Natural Resources Branch. (Photo Credit: Scott Summers, Fort Hood DPW) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas -- The installation Natural Resources Branch teamed with the Twin Lakes Audubon Society to help keep this central Texas post beautiful – one fishing line at a time.

The two organizations conducted an extensive clean-up of the Cantonment B Kids Pond here for Make a Difference Day, picking up 46 pounds of refuse in and around the pond, Oct. 24.

“That ended up being 38 (pounds) of garbage, such as Styrofoam fish bait containers, plastic, cigarette butts, fishing line, drink containers and others,” Scott Summers, environmental protection specialist with the Directorate of Public Works’ Natural Resources Branch, said. “We had eight pounds of recyclables, led by aluminum cans and metal.”

Summers said some of the metal came from a collapsed sunshade canopy that had probably blown into the pond. After the owners of the canopy couldn’t retrieve the entire thing, it was apparently left in the pond. In a first, he said there were also discarded facemasks littering the area. To help retrieve some of the harder to reach debris out of the water, some of the volunteers went out on kayaks and small boats to reach the litter.

Beautification, wildlife safety

“What we did is we came out and looked for litter and trash. We want to make the area more compatible with the habitat, such as birds,” Dan Kelch, vice president of Twin Lakes Audubon Society, explained. “We picked up a lot of fishing line, which is a problem for birds, because they get tangled in. I’ve even seen fish hooks in birds.”

The Natural Resources Branch hosts two bird counts annually, inviting the Twin Lakes Audubon Society to Fort Hood to assist. Volunteering for the clean-up is their way of thanking Fort Hood, while also protecting the environment.

Summers said the Cantonment B Kids Pond is designated for children, but adults with children may also fish with their child. Because there are less fishermen in the pond, he said fish are more abundant and more willing to bite quicker than in public ponds.

All fishermen must have a Texas and Fort Hood fishing permit, along with area access, which is included in a Fort Hood fishing permit. Permits can be purchased at the Sportsmen’s Center, located at Building 1937 on Road and Gun Club Loop. For more information, call the Sportsmen’s Center at (254) 532-4552.

The Cantonment B Kids Pond is located on the north side of Interstate 14, directly across from Central Texas College, on the Bell Tower Drive exit.

“Some of these children come here for the first time fishing,” Summers said. “And in these cases, it is the first time for their parents with their kids. We want it to look good.”

Donations

Other volunteers for Make a Difference Day collected donations for Families in Crisis, a domestic violence service in Killeen.

The Fort Hood Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation’s Child and Youth Services collected dozens of pairs of socks for the shelter. Meanwhile, First Army – Division West Soldiers collected socks, baby wipes, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.

“This is close to my heart because I love to be of help to those that are in need,” Juana Wright, volunteer coordinator at Families in Crisis, said.

She said socks may seem small to some people, but it provides that extra sense of comfort to their clients, who are dealing with a lot of issues.

“This is why I love my job,” Wright said. “It gives me the opportunity reach out to the communities and different organizations and see the good side of people that want to help.”