Ray Bittle - A Friend Who is Improving the Talladega National Forest

Ray Bittle a dedicated volunteer for the Talladega National Forest
Ray Bittle is a member of the “Friends of the Talladega National Forest” who are dedicated to improving national forests.

You might call Ray Bittle a man for all seasons.  Whether it’s spring, summer, winter or fall, you can find Ray involved in some type of volunteer activity on the Talladega National Forest.

Despite the fact that Ray holds down a full-time position with the Jacksonville Housing Authority (he’s worked for them for 34 years), Ray finds time to volunteer in the national forest that he loves.

When asked what being a volunteer means to him, Ray said, “To be a volunteer means giving time and energy to help a neighbor, a cause, your community, and your country.”  He continued, “Every time I enter the Forest, I can see the results of the efforts that I and other volunteers have accomplished.  It makes me very proud to have visitors from far and wide comment on the appearance and cleanliness of our recreation areas.”

Ray does not limit his skills or energy to one area.  He has served as a campground host for 12 years.  He has worked to maintain hiking trails. He has worked to maintain horse trails.  He has participated in Earth Day clean-up events.  He has assisted with kid’s fishing derbys.  And if that doesn’t take up enough of his spare time, Ray also is an active Board member for the new Friends of the Talladega National Forest group (he has not missed one meeting since the group’s inception).

District Ranger Karen McKenzie said, “Ray Bittle is one of the most energetic and caring volunteers that I have had the pleasure to work with here in Alabama or anywhere for that matter.  I am constantly amazed by how involved Ray is in helping to make this Forest a great place for our visitors.”

Ray has also offered his volunteer efforts for the Alabama Nature Conservancy.  He helped construct oyster reefs at Dauphin Island in south Alabama.  In one weekend, Ray and other volunteers built a quarter mile of oyster reef!

Shoal Creek District Recreation Specialist Lesley Hodge said, “No matter what project we need help with, I look up and Ray is there.  He is a hard worker and a top notch man, and he is a good friend to us all.”