You might describe it as a classic example of ‘the power of two’, or you could say Jill Feldmeyer’s activism began with an attempt by the Terrell resident to save an injured great blue heron.In the spring of 2004, Feldmeyer was jogging in Kaiser Island, near her home, when she spotted a Great Blue Heron with a wing tangled in a fishing line. With the help of a passerby, she bundled the injured bird in a blanket and tried to find a veterinarian to treat it.After four local vets refused to treat the bird, they finally found a fifth vet who, although unable to save the bird, agreed to euthanize it. “After that incident, my husband Jim and I embarked on a personal crusade to rescue blue herons. We bought four cages at $100 each and located a few vets who were willing to treat the birds we brought to them,” she recalls.As part of the rescue operation, Feldmeyer and her husband created an organization they called SOLO, Save Our Lake Organization. “By word of mouth, we tried to get the word out that we would pick up injured blue herons and take them to a facility where they could be treated.”In the first few years, with the help of other volunteers they had recruited, they rescued about 10 injured birds, and because Feldmeyer had been the Lincoln County coordinator for NC Big Sweep, SOLO and the volunteers they recruited also participated in the annual clean-up of the Lake Norman shoreline and the islands in the lake.In keeping with the dictum that “no good deed goes unpunished,” Jill, 50, and Jim, 56, learned that the office of the vet who had euthanized the first blue heron they had attempted to rescue had been temporarily shut down by federal Wildlife Management agents because Great Blue Herons are a protected species.“When we found out that federal regulations prohibit treating injured blue herons, we decided to cease our rescue efforts and focus on lake and island clean-ups instead.”In 2008, she became the NC Big Sweep county coordinator for Iredell County. “As county coordinator, my job was to recruit volunteers, as many as 200, and arrange for boats to reach the islands,” Feldmeyer said.SOLO also handles the Island Adoption Program for Lake Norman Wildlife Conservation, the local chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “Adopting an island entails keeping it free of trash, promoting wildlife on Lake Norman, adding birdhouses, and such,” she said. “Essentially, it just means that you agree to take charge of the welfare of the island, which is very important, since there are 80 islands on the lake.”Running SOLO has become essentially a two-person operation for Jill and her husband. “We had a board to help with the running of SOLO but unfortunately, the board faded away,” she said. “I recently went back to work full time as activity director for an independent living facility, Churchhill at Emeritus in Mooresville, so I’ve really got my hands full, but we are committed to helping maintain Lake Norman for everyone to enjoy.” SOLO is planning for the 50th anniversary of the creation of Lake Norman, with a festival to be held at Queens Landing in Mooresville on June 22.
Sunday, Feb. 03, 2013
Lake Norman’s Save Our Lake Organization was born from a passion for nature
Preserving the lake and its islands is Feldmeyer’s passion
Scout Troop 609 from Statesville removed a large quantity of trash from Lake Norman during the 2012 Big Sweep lake clean-up. COURTESY OF JILL FELDMEYER
Ce Lunsford and her son Thomas removed a tire from Lake Norman during the 2012 Big Sweep lake clean-up. COURTESY OF JILL FELDMEYER
Want to help? Anyone interested in helping SOLO with lake and island clean-ups, or for information about the Big Sweep and the 50th Anniversary festival, contact Save Our Lake Organization at 704-724-2852, firstname.lastname@example.org.