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Wild South cleans sacred Indian area used for dumping

An illegal dump site in Indian Tomb Hollow in Bankhead National Forest has been cleaned by volunteers with Wild South, a local forest protection and lobby organization.

"Iron Eyes Cody would be proud," said Billy Grayfox Shaw, lifting a bulging trash bag into his truck. "You could say I'm one of many Cherokee people who have concerns about the forest."

Shaw and 12 other Wild South volunteers removed five truckloads of trash recently, including a child's swing set, wooden fencing, household trash, waste construction materials and beer cans.

Illegal dumping in the hollow, an area considered sacred by American Indians, has been
a problem for years and has damaged rare native plants that are indigenous to a limestone glade at the entrance to the hollow, according to the organization.

To protect the area, the Forest Service installed gates at two entrances of the hollow to prevent dumping and illegal use by off-road vehicles that have damaged steep slopes and woodlands.

The service brought in a bulldozer to smooth the rutted areas.

Indian Tomb Hollow contains an unusual Indian trail marker tree, bluff shelters and an early settler's cemetery.

According to the local legend, the hollow was the site of a battle between the Chickasaws and the Creeks in the late 1700s.

The area is also noted for wildflower displays in the spring and is managed as a cultural heritage area by the U.S. Forest Service.

Lamar Marshall, founder of Wild South, said the cleanup effort was an example of collaboration of the public with the Forest Service to better public land.

Wild South receives support for several volunteer projects from the National Forest Foundation and The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation.

Nancy Glasscock

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