Monday, December 18, 2006

BEN - December 13, 2006 #275

1) Congress Passes Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Revenue Sharing Bill
2) TVA New Land Policy Protects Public Land
3) Alabama Scientist Calls For Immediate Global Protection of Seagrasses
4) Sen. Jeff Sessions Named to Senate Environment and Resources Committee
5) BEN Notes: Cahaba River Society Education Director Job Opening, Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas, Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up, 25x25 Bioenergy Goals, Funny Environmental Website/Message
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BEN Charities
Don't forget to make a contribution to one of BEN's charities before the end of the year. Visit the BEN "Make a Donation Website," to view profiles at:
http://www.BamaNews.com/donation.html

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1. Congress Passes Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Revenue Sharing Bill - On December 9th, right before the 109th Congress adjourned, the "Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act" passed by the U.S. Senate in August was included in a massive tax and trade package that is now on its way to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign it.

The bill will open energy production in about 8 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico that lie to the south and east of the Alabama coast. The drilling would occur in Gulf waters at least 125 miles off the Alabama shoreline. For the first time, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will share 37.5 percent of the federal revenues generated by the lease sale and production royalties of oil and natural gas outside state waters. The states presently receive less than 2 percent.

Under the legislation, the new revenue, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future years, is required to be spent on coastal restoration and conservation.The legislation was championed by Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, along with Mobile Rep. Jo Bonner and the entire Alabama delegation. For additional information about the legislation go to: http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=266843

2. TVA New Land Policy Protects Public Land - Last month, the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Board approved a new land policy that protects and preserves undeveloped public lands managed by TVA along reservoirs throughout the Tennessee Valley.

The final policy was recommended by the Board's Community Relations Committee after receiving more than 5000 comments from the public. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the comments supported the draft policy which proposed no residential or retail development on TVA managed land. To view the elements of the plan and obtain a copy of the final plan document, go to:http://www.tva.gov/news/releases/octdec06/landpolicy2.htm

3. Alabama Scientist Calls For Immediate Global Protection of Seagrasses - According to the Mobile Register, a scientist from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is "making waves internationally" with the recent publication of an article in Bioscience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Ken Heck, senior marine scientist at the Sea Lab worked with a team of 12 other scientists to present the findings in the publication. The paper calls for an immediate global conservation effort to protect the world's diminishing meadows of undersea grasses and the ecosystems they support. Their loss may be greater than the decline of coral reefs according to the scientists.

Locally, seagrass beds in Alabama and Mobile Bay have declined dramatically over the last 50 years. Heck speculates that Mobile Bay has lost 50 percent of the grass beds that were present in 1950. A 1998 Gulf Coast Research Laboratory study concluded that Mississippi had lost half of its seagrass beds since 1968. Along with their biological significance, seagrasses are also important to commercial fishing interests and the ecosystem. "You can literally see 100 times more animals in grass beds than you'll see in a sandy or mud bottom area. They really are the nursery habitat." Heck stated in the Register article.

4. Sen. Jeff Sessions Named to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - Sen. Jeff Sessions has been tapped to serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

This important environmental committee develops national energy policy and has jurisdiction over public lands, forests and the National Park Service. For more information on this important appointment visit: http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=266930

5. BEN Notes: Cahaba River Society Education Director Job Opening, Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas, Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up, 25x25 Bioenergy Goals, Funny Environmental Website/Message

Cahaba River Society (CRS) Education Director Job Opening - CRS is seeking an education director to plan, coordinate and implement its education programs, including the Shane Hulsey CLEAN Program. To learn more about this innovative educational program and the position available, visit http://www.cahabariversociety.org/EDjob1.htm

Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas - The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has available several new holiday gift ideas including a State Park Gift Card, subscriptions to Outdoor Alabama magazine (or call 877-339-0508) and outdoor gifts located on the Department's new Nature Shop website - http://www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-alabama/shop.cfm.

Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up - On Thursday, December 14th, Sojourns, a free trade store located in Birmingham downtown at 1910 3rd Ave. North (205-323-5680) will be dedicating 10% of all purchases that day to the Alabama Rivers Alliance. Sojourns is open from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. For more info contact the Alliance at 205-322-6395 or visit http://www.adventureartpeace.com25x25

Bioenergy Goals - Two new economic studies released in November confirm that it is feasible for America's farms, forests and ranches to provide 25% of the total energy consumed in the United States by the year 2025. To download the full reports go to http://www.25x25.org/ .

Funny Environmental Website/Message - My good friend John Noel of Tennessee sent me this blunt, funny website that drives home the importance of protecting the environment. Check it out - http://www.globalcommunity.org/flash/wombat.shtml

Monday, December 11, 2006

BEN - December 4, 2006 #274

1) "Sitting in Our Cars" A New Study About Traffic In Bham
2) Southern Company/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant Announcements
3) Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Sites
4) BEN Notes: Little River Canyon Public Meetings, River Guardians Needed, Educational/Sustainability Websites, Animal Sounds from the MacCaulay Library

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1. "Sitting in Our Cars" A New Study About Traffic In Bham - According to a study by the Texas Transportation Institute, commuters in the Birmingham area can expect to spend 27 hours stuck in traffic a year.

The 2005 Urban Mobility Report ranked Birmingham 43rd out of 85 urban areas for the annual number of hours delay a typical motorist will experience. The 27 hours of sitting in traffic is almost a quadruple increase from the 6 hours motorist in Birmingham were delayed in 1982. To learn more about this study view the report at http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/

2. Southern Company/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Grant Announcements - Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently awarded two major grants to Alabama groups within their Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs. Here are descriptions for two of the Alabama grantees:

* Quail Unlimited, Inc. - to support the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative by restoring the habitat of the Bankhead and Talladega National Forests in Alabama.

* Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences - to pilot methods to reintroduce fire among longleaf pine in mountainous areas with excessive undergrowth. This project aims to restore longleaf pine in Alabama with the goal of creating methods that can be used throughout longleaf's range.

Since 2002, Southern Company and NFWF have contributed more than $4.7 million through 61 grants to the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs. In addition, grant recipients have contributed nearly $6.7 million in matching funds, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $11.4 million.

3. Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Sites - Some interesting figures from two Sunday Birmingham News articles on abandoned mine reclamation in Alabama written by News reporter Kent Faulk. They include:

* For nearly 30 years, Alabama's Abandoned Mine Land Program has reclaimed more than 35 square miles. It is estimated 112 square miles of Alabama landscape remain scarred by mining operations abandoned before 1977.

* According to the Birmingham News, environmentalists and regulators agree - at the current pace of funding it could take 200 years and an estimated $402 million to reclaim the land remaining on the Alabama Abandoned Mine Land Program's list of abandoned mines.

For more information about abandoned mines in Alabama go to the Surface Mining Commission website at http://www.surface-mining.state.al.us/ To learn more about the Federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation program, visit http://www.osmre.gov/fundstat.htm

The Birmingham News articles can be found at http://al.com .

BEN Notes: Little River Canyon Public Meetings, River Guardians Needed, Educational/Sustainability Websites, Animal Sounds from the MacCaulay Library

Little River Canyon Public Meetings - The National Park Service is seeking ideas for improving Little River Canyon National Preserve. Three open houses will be held this week to allow the public to make recommendations. Open house meetings are scheduled for:

December 5th - 5 to 8pm at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, 256-927-8455
December 6th - 2 to 4pm at the DeKalb County Tourist Association, 256-845-3947
December 7th - 5 to 8pm at the DeKalb County Tourist Association, 256-845-3947

For more info about park planning, call John Bundy at 256-845-9605 or visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov

River Guardians Needed - The Flint River Conservation Association is planning a workshop next year to train people to find signs of nonpoint source pollution and report violations. The workshop is scheduled for February 24th in Huntsville. For more detailed information call Soos Weber at 256-427-5116 or visit http://www.huntsvillepreserves.com

Educational/Sustainability Websites - Check out these websites that provide new educational tools and info on sustainability.

http://www.nrel.gov/learning - Learning about Renewable Energy - Website provides basic info about solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen and geothermal power.

http://oceanslive.org/ - OceansLive.org aims to bring the ocean world to communities worldwide and make oceans accessible and local through a multimedia system approach.

http://www.populationeducation.org/index.jsp - Population Connection's education program is a national population education program with a strong emphasis on teacher training for educators of grades pre-K through 12.

http://theevergladesstory.org/ - Water's Journey Everglades, this website offers a wealth of information about the history and contemporary situation in and around the Everglades.

http://www.sustainlane.us/home.jsp - SustainLane is a website designed for state and local government officials to exchange best practices in sustainability and network among peers.

Animal Sounds from the MacCaulay Library - Here is a really neat site. The Macaulay Library (formerly the Library of Natural Sounds) is the world's largest archive of animal sounds. They have more than 160,000 recordings of 67 percent of the world's birds, and rapidly increasing holdings of insects, fish, frogs and mammals. Visit - http://www.birds.cornell.edu/MacaulayLibrary/About/

Monday, December 04, 2006

BEN - November 28, 2006 #273

1) Freshwater Land Trust To Inherit 4500 Acres
2) Chief Ladiga Trail Nears Completion
3) State Poised To Hire 1st Deep South State Forester
4) Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee Calls For Mercury Reductions
5) BEN Notes: Dogwood Alliance Internship Program, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program, Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn, The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide, Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature", Perry Lakes Website

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Dear BEN Reader:Maxie Bryant, a longtime leader in the Audubon Society and the environmental community died this weekend.

When I served on the Forever Wild board of trustees, every meeting opened with comments from the public. It never failed. At every meeting, Maxie Bryant, smiling from ear to ear would stand and greet us "you know why I'm here!" she would always say. Then with boastful enthusiasm she would passionately tell the trustees how important the Sipsey River Swamp is to Alabama.

I can't remember a Forever Wild meeting without Maxie. Encouraging us. Prodding us. Even after the board, bought over 2000 acres on the Sipsey River, she still attended the meetings graciously thanking us at every turn. She loved Forever Wild. She loved preserving our rivers, swamps and land. She loved nature and her family. I can still see her smiling. Maxie - Well Done.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington
BEN Publisher

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Visitation for Maxie Bryant will be Wednesday, November 29, 5-7pm at the Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be on Thursday, November 30 (her birthday) at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel - 2pm. At Maxie's request, in lieu of flowers, she asked memorial contributions be made to Forever Wild Land Trust, 64 North Union Street, Suite 464, Montgomery, Alabama 36104 or Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, P. O. Box 1295, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528.

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Last night, I received an email from Kirsten Bryant, Maxie's granddaughter in-law, relaying the following special story Maxie told the Forever Wild Board last March in Montgomery."75 years ago our vacation was to throw two bushels of corn into the back of a wagon and to go overnight to the Sipsey Swamp. We put out the set hooks and trout lines. It was so exciting. We made a check of them on the hour to take off the fish and put new bait on them. Everyone fought to get to go but they felt like that was not proper for a girl to go. Girls were left out when it came to putting out the trout lines and changing the bait. That was not something the girls did. I pushed the button. I always wanted to go and I would put a pitiful face up to Dad. And, I convinced him that I could hold the lantern. I never dropped it."

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1. Freshwater Land Trust To Inherit 4500 Acres - According to the Birmingham News, the Freshwater Land Trust has agreed to take responsibility for 4,500 acres from Jefferson County.

Since 1996, the county has been under a federal decree when a federal judge found that it repeatedly had violated the Clean Water Act . Under the decree, the county bought 4,500 acres protecting headwaters of creeks and pathways along the Cahaba and Black Warrior river basins instead of paying fines to the federal government. Up to $30 million was spent on the 10 year program.Jefferson County will convey to the land trust, after the approval of EPA, the rights to the 4,500 acres in December. An additional $4.2 million will also be placed in a maintenance fund.

For more information about the Freshwater Land Trust visit http://www.freshwaterlandtrust.org

2. Chief Ladiga Trail Nears Completion - Last week, the Clebourne County Commission accepted a $460,000 bid to finish a 4.2 mile section of the Chief Ladiga Trail. This action, along with several projects in progress will enable the Chief Ladiga Trail to connect with Georgia's Silver Comet Trail by mid 2007.

To learn more about this project that links Alabama and Georgia visit http://epic.jsu.edu

3. State Poised To Hire 1st Deep South State Forester - According to the Decatur Daily, the state of Alabama is poised to appoint the first female state forester in the Deep South after the Alabama Forestry Commission accepted a search committee's recommendation.Linda Casey of South Carolina was selected from a field of 26 applicants and must now be approved by Governor Bob Riley.

Casey presently oversees the procurement of 26.8 million tons of fiber, manages 138 employees and a budget of nearly a $1 billion for International Paper in Georgetown, South Carolina. Alabama's state forester oversees the day to day work of 337 employees across the state and an annual budget of $35 million. Commission chairman Don Heath said Riley will be asked to appoint Casey contingent upon her becoming a licensed forester in Alabama. She could begin work in January.

4. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee Calls For Mercury Reductions - Last week, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said the federal government's current rule on mercury emissions may not be strong enough to protect Tennessee and urged Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to continue his investigation into the extent coal fired power plants in Tennessee and neighboring states are contributing to the problem of mercury deposits in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Sen. Alexander has introduced bipartisan legislation called the Clean Air Planning Act, that goes 'farther and faster" than Bush administration proposals to clean up coal burning plants by removing sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury from the air. The bill would cut mercury emissions by 90 percent in 2015 according to an Alexander press release.View Sen. Alexander's clean air positions by visiting his website at: http://alexander.senate.gov/

5. BEN Notes: Dogwood Alliance Internship Program, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program, Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn, The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide, Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature", Perry Lakes Website

Dogwood Alliance Internship Program - Students interested in working an internship for a regional grassroots forestry protection group may contact the Dogwood Alliance's Eva Hernandez at eva@dogwoodalliance.org or visit http://pressroomda.greenmediatoolshed.org/folders/index.tcl?folder_id=1431

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program - The Wiregrass Electric Cooperative is offering "Green Power Choice" to it's customers. Check it out by visiting their website at http://www.wiregrass.coop/greenpower.html or call 800-239-4602.

Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn - Dr. Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College and an organizer of a major initiative that is engaging over a thousand educational institutions around the country on climate change will speak on Tuesday, November 28th, Noon at 208 Foy Union at Auburn University. His topic - "Seen Inconvenient Truth: Now What? Focus the Nation on Solutions to Global Warming." For additional info call Lindy Biggs or Matt Williams at 334-844-7777.

The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide - The Gulf Restoration Network has a downloadable "wetlands guide" for people interested in protecting wetlands. Go to http://www.healthygulf.org/wetlands/Wetlands%20Manual.htm

Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature" - The Nature Conservancy has a great stocking stuffer for the holiday season. The conservation group is selling "gift of nature" certificates that show recipients have contributed to nature projects throughout Alabama. For example: a gift of "pearls" goes toward oyster reef restoration, a gift of "flowers" supports preservation of central Alabama's Cahaba River and its lilies. Donations for the certificates start at $50. For more information call Linda Mayson at 251-433-1150.

Perry Lakes Website - Check out a great website providing information about all the many activities occurring at Perry Lake. Visit http://www.perrylakes.org/

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

BEN - November 28, 2006 #273

1) Freshwater Land Trust To Inherit 4500 Acres
2) Chief Ladiga Trail Nears Completion
3) State Poised To Hire 1st Deep South State Forester
4) Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee Calls For Mercury Reductions
5) BEN Notes: Dogwood Alliance Internship Program, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program, Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn, The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide, Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature", Perry Lakes Website

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Dear BEN Reader:

Maxie Bryant, a longtime leader in the Audubon Society and the environmental community died this weekend.

When I served on the Forever Wild board of trustees, every meeting opened with comments from the public.

It never failed.

At every meeting, Maxie Bryant, smiling from ear to ear would stand and greet us "you know why I'm here!" she would always say.

Then with boastful enthusiasm she would passionately tell the trustees how important the Sipsey River Swamp is to Alabama.

I can't remember a Forever Wild meeting without Maxie. Encouraging us. Prodding us. Even after the board, bought over 2000 acres on the Sipsey River, she still attended the meetings graciously thanking us at every turn. She loved Forever Wild. She loved preserving our rivers, swamps and land. She loved nature and her family.

I can still see her smiling. Maxie - Well Done.

Best Wishes,Pat Byington
BEN Publisher

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Visitation for Maxie Bryant will be Wednesday, November 29, 5-7pm at the Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be on Thursday, November 30 (her birthday) at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel - 2pm. At Maxie's request, in lieu of flowers, she asked memorial contributions be made to Forever Wild Land Trust, 64 North Union Street, Suite 464, Montgomery, Alabama 36104 or Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, P. O. Box 1295, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528.

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Last night, I received an email from Kirsten Bryant, Maxie's granddaughter in-law, relaying the following special story Maxie told the Forever Wild Board last March in Montgomery.

"75 years ago our vacation was to throw two bushels of corn into the back of a wagon and to go overnight to the Sipsey Swamp. We put out the set hooks and trout lines. It was so exciting. We made a check of them on the hour to take off the fish and put new bait on them. Everyone fought to get to go but they felt like that was not proper for a girl to go. Girls were left out when it came to putting out the trout lines and changing the bait. That was not something the girls did. I pushed the button. I always wanted to go and I would put a pitiful face up to Dad. And, I convinced him that I could hold the lantern. I never dropped it."

*************************************************

1. Freshwater Land Trust To Inherit 4500 Acres - According to the Birmingham News, the Freshwater Land Trust has agreed to take responsibility for 4,500 acres from Jefferson County.

Since 1996, the county has been under a federal decree when a federal judge found that it repeatedly had violated the Clean Water Act . Under the decree, the county bought 4,500 acres protecting headwaters of creeks and pathways along the Cahaba and Black Warrior river basins instead of paying fines to the federal government. Up to $30 million was spent on the 10 year program.Jefferson County will convey to the land trust, after the approval of EPA, the rights to the 4,500 acres in December. An additional $4.2 million will also be placed in a maintenance fund.

For more information about the Freshwater Land Trust visit http://www.freshwaterlandtrust.org

2. Chief Ladiga Trail Nears Completion - Last week, the Clebourne County Commission accepted a $460,000 bid to finish a 4.2 mile section of the Chief Ladiga Trail. This action, along with several projects in progress will enable the Chief Ladiga Trail to connect with Georgia's Silver Comet Trail by mid 2007.

To learn more about this project that links Alabama and Georgia visit http://epic.jsu.edu

3. State Poised To Hire 1st Deep South State Forester - According to the Decatur Daily, the state of Alabama is poised to appoint the first female state forester in the Deep South after the Alabama Forestry Commission accepted a search committee's recommendation.

Linda Casey of South Carolina was selected from a field of 26 applicants and must now be approved by Governor Bob Riley. Casey presently oversees the procurement of 26.8 million tons of fiber, manages 138 employees and a budget of nearly a $1 billion for International Paper in Georgetown, South Carolina. Alabama's state forester oversees the day to day work of 337 employees across the state and an annual budget of $35 million.

Commission chairman Don Heath said Riley will be asked to appoint Casey contingent upon her becoming a licensed forester in Alabama. She could begin work in January.

4. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee Calls For Mercury Reductions - Last week, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said the federal government's current rule on mercury emissions may not be strong enough to protect Tennessee and urged Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to continue his investigation into the extent coal fired power plants in Tennessee and neighboring states are contributing to the problem of mercury deposits in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.Sen.

Alexander has introduced bipartisan legislation called the Clean Air Planning Act, that goes 'farther and faster" than Bush administration proposals to clean up coal burning plants by removing sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury from the air. The bill would cut mercury emissions by 90 percent in 2015 according to an Alexander press release.

View Sen. Alexander's clean air positions by visiting his website at: http://alexander.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Articles.Detail&Article_id=129

5. BEN Notes: Dogwood Alliance Internship Program, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program, Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn, The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide, Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature", Perry Lakes Website

Dogwood Alliance Internship Program - Students interested in working an internship for a regional grassroots forestry protection group may contact the Dogwood Alliance's Eva Hernandez at eva@dogwoodalliance.org or visit http://pressroomda.greenmediatoolshed.org/folders/index.tcl?folder_id=1431

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Green Power Program - The Wiregrass Electric Cooperative is offering "Green Power Choice" to it's customers. Check it out by visiting their website at http://www.wiregrass.coop/greenpower.html or call 800-239-4602.

Climate Change Organizer to Speak at Auburn - Dr. Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College and an organizer of a major initiative that is engaging over a thousand educational institutions around the country on climate change will speak on Tuesday, November 28th, Noon at 208 Foy Union at Auburn University. His topic - "Seen Inconvenient Truth: Now What? Focus the Nation on Solutions to Global Warming." For additional info call Lindy Biggs or Matt Williams at 334-844-7777.

The Gulf Restoration Network Wetlands Guide - The Gulf Restoration Network has a downloadable "wetlands guide" for people interested in protecting wetlands. Go to http://www.healthygulf.org/wetlands/Wetlands%20Manual.htm

Nature Conservancy's "Gift of Nature" - The Nature Conservancy has a great stocking stuffer for the holiday season. The conservation group is selling "gift of nature" certificates that show recipients have contributed to nature projects throughout Alabama. For example: a gift of "pearls" goes toward oyster reef restoration, a gift of "flowers" supports preservation of central Alabama's Cahaba River and its lilies. Donations for the certificates start at $50. For more information call Linda Mayson at 251-433-1150.

Perry Lakes Website - Check out a great website providing information about all the many activities occurring at Perry Lake. Visit http://www.perrylakes.org

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BEN - November 14, 2006 #272

1) Alabama Association of RC&D Councils Success Stories
2) 4-H Environmental Center Garners "Gold" LEED Rating
3) Environmental Groups Sue to End Gulf of Mexico Bluefin Tuna Fishing
4) Legacy Receives National Honor
5) BEN Notes: Environmental Educator Position Open, Organic Vegetable Conference Slated, Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, Alabama Clean Water Partnership 2006 Conference, River of Words, AWF Outdoor Classroom/Free Seedling Giveaway, Alabama's Bartram Canoe Trail
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Here is a great story/excerpt from a Mike Bolton column that was published in the Birmingham News on November 5th.

"Maybe for different reasons, but we all want a clean environment. A healthy environment benefits us all, no matter how we play outdoors.

The details from one interview on that trip will forever stay embedded in my mind. I talked to a biologist from the Alabama Geological Survey about the declining mussel population in the Cahaba and the fact that several mussels species found there just 25 years before were now extinct.

Although I'm sure one of my questions wasn't as terse as my thought train, the basic premise of my ignorant inquiry was: 'So what?"

The patient biologist gave me an answer that I will never forget. Aside from not wanting to go to your grave knowing that you might have been partially responsible for the demise of a species of animals on this earth, there are other things to consider, he explained. Whether we like the outdoors because we fish, hunt, hike, camp or watch birds, it is a house of cards that is precariously perched, he said. You can pull out a card here and there and nothing happens, but eventually you will pull out the wrong card and it will all come tumbling down.

The sad part is that it can never be put back the way it was.

The mussel in the Cahaba that nobody eats and that the bass don't eat may seem lowly, but it is an important component of the bass that I like to catch there. The bottom dweller sits at the lowest end of the food chain, but it is a filter feeder that filters harmful pollutants from the river.

It serves as the canary in the coal mine so to speak, the biologist explained. Miners once took canaries into coal mines. When the canary died, that meant a harmful level of toxic gas was present. The canary for the Cahaba is dying, the biologist said.

Will the tiny minnows that the bass and bream eat die next? Will the bass follow? Will it all eventually tumble down, never to be put back as it was?

To read the entire column go to this al.com website.

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1. Alabama Association of RC&D Councils Success Stories - Recently, we received at the Bama Environmental News a copy of the 2005 Annual Report for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.

It is an impressive report.

Through the nine local councils that cover the state of Alabama, there are numerous proactive environmental projects that are being carried out. Some of these projects and accomplishments include:

* Water Festivals in Baldwin, Lee, Montgomery, Bullock, Barbour, Talladega, Limestone and Colbert counties.

* Creation of nature trails and outdoor classrooms in schools and communities such as the Dodge City Outdoor Classroom, Priceville Elementary Wetland Walkway, the Monroeville Future Forest Learning Center, Stapleton Elementary School "Our Big Back Yard," Bear Exploration Center (Montgomery County), Eufaula Rails to Trails, Russell County's Lakewood School Nature Trail and Outdoor Discovery Center and the Phil Campbell Outdoor Classroom.

* Alabama Clean Water Partnership (CWP) Basin Groups such as the Black Warrior River CWP, Cahaba River Basin, Coosa Basin, Tennessee Basin and several other groups.

* Your Town Alabama - http://www.yourtownalabama.org/ - a conference that attracts community leaders throughout Alabama to develop and inspire new and innovative community projects and development goals.

This is just a sampling of Association's many environmental projects. A true "advocate for the public and community good" - Alabama's RC&D Councils are a great way to protect and enhance the environment within your own community. To learn more about your local Regional Council visit the following websites:

http://www.amrvrcd.net
http://www.cawaco.org
http://www.gulfcoastrcd.org
http://www.wrcd.org

2. 4-H Environmental Center Garners "Gold" LEED Rating - Last month, Alabama 4-H broke ground in Shelby County on the site where a new 17,500 square foot Environmental Science Education Center will be built. The new center will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) commissioned environmental education building in the Southeast and will be an example of sustainable awareness nationally.

The LEED Green Building rating system is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and high performance green buildings. LEED certification promotes sustainability, human and environmental health, sustainable site development, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. To attain "gold" LEED certification, buildings are required to achieve 39 points, the Alabama 4-H Environmental Science Education Center will qualify for 45 points. The building has been designed by Davis Architects of Birmingham and will be constructed by B.L. Harbert International. It is scheduled to open in November 2007.

Check out the design of the building and additional details at http://www.aces.edu/fourh/ For additional information about LEED certification go to the U.S. Green Building Council website at http://www.usgbc.org

3. Environmental Groups Sue to End Gulf of Mexico Bluefin Tuna Fishing - According to the Associated Press, several environmental groups are calling for Bluefin Tuna fishing to be shut down in the Gulf of Mexico, to keep one of the world's largest and most valuable fish from dying out.

Earthjustice and the Blue Ocean Institute sued the federal government last week, after the federal government's rejection of a petition by Earthjustice to close 125,000 square miles of the Gulf when bluefin are spawning. Bluefin, which can reach 10 feet long and up to 1500 pounds, travel thousands of miles every year to reach the spring spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. Direct fishing for bluefin was banned in U.S. waters in 1999.The lawsuit coincided with a study in the current issue of Nature that warns of a worldwide collapse of fish populations by 2048, if trends are not reversed.

To read more about the lawsuit visit, http://www.earthjustice.org

4. Legacy Receives National Honor - On October 10th in San Diego, California, the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources presented Legacy, Inc., Partners in Environmental Education, with the 2006 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship.

Legacy is primarily funded through the sale of Alabama's "Protect Our Environment" license tags, as well as from corporate, individual and in-kind donations and grants. Founded in 1992, Legacy has bestowed more than $2 million in grants, scholarships and sponsorships related to environmental education and events. Other achievements from 2000-2005 include:

* 1064 teachers trained at Legacy teacher workshops.
* 173 environmental grants awarded for a total of $785,807
* 109 environmental scholarships awarded for a total of $143,950
* 23 chemical collection day sponsorships awarded for a total of $93,650
* 110 Earth Month sponsorships awarded for a total of $27,250
* 250,000 environmental education materials (posters, guides, pamphlets and booklets) distributed.

For additional info about Legacy and their programs visit, http://www.legacyenved.org

5. BEN Notes: Environmental Educator Position Open, Organic Vegetable Conference Slated, Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, Alabama Clean Water Partnership 2006 Conference, River of Words, AWF Outdoor Classroom/Free Seedling Giveaway, Alabama's Bartram Canoe Trail

Environmental Educator Position Open - Camp McDowell is seeking an environmental education instructor. The position pays $225 per week plus room and board, and will run from February to May. Requirements include a college degree, certifications in CPR and First Aid and a desire to help children learn and grow in an outdoor environment. To apply - mail or email resume and references to Maggie Wade Johnston, 105 DeLong Road, Nauvoo, Alabama, 33578 or maggie@campmcdowell.com . For additional info, call 205-387-1806 or visit http://www.campmcdowell.com

Organic Vegetable Conference Slated - The 4th Annual Organic Vegetable Production Conference is scheduled to be held on November 15, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM at the Alabama Power Company Conference Center in Clanton. The conference fee is $15.00. For additional details go to http://fp.auburn.edu/auorganicveg/conference2006/ or call Dee Fowler at 334-844-2561.

Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium - Please make plans to attend the Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium on November 28-30 in Mobile. This event is one of the most important symposiums about the Gulf and Alabama's Mobile Bay held in the region. The last event of this kind that was held focusing on Alabama's coast was in 1995. For more details go to http://ambbs.mobilebaynep.com/ or contact Tiffany England at 251-431-6409 or Shonda Borden 251-438-5690.

Alabama Clean Water Partnership 2006 Conference - The Alabama Clean Water Partnership 2nd Annual Watersheds Conference is scheduled to be held on December 6th, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Alabama Power Water Course Conference Center in Clanton, Alabama. Please RSVP by November 17th for lunch to Allison Jenkins at ajenkins@elmore.rr.com or call 205-266-6285.

River of Words - Inspirational! Check out Alabama's Environmental Art & Poetry Program for Alabama's Youth - River of Words at http://riverofwords.auburn.edu/Winners.htm

AWF Outdoor Classroom/Free Seedling Giveaway - Don't miss out on this special program. The Alabama Forestry Commission is partnering with the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Department of Conservation and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to donate and deliver free seedlings to schools that are enrolled in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program. The deadline to participate in this program is Friday, November 17th. Apply for this program today, by visiting the Alabama Wildlife Federation's website at http://www.alabamawildlife.org/conservation_education/seedlinggiveaway.asp

Alabama's Bartram Canoe Trail - Alabama State Lands has "launched" the Bartram Canoe Trails. Check out this new dynamic program at:http://www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-adventures/bartram/index.htm

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BEN - November 8, 2006 #271

1) Forever Wild Purchases 340 Acres in Huntsville
2) Forever Wild Car Tag Results: $250,000 +
3) New Cahaba River Canoe Launch Near Selma
4) BEN Notes: Nature's Lens Opening Reception, Wolf Bay Monitor Awards, Wenonah Area Safe Routes to School Workshop, Bay Buddy Training, Coastal Wonders at Camp Beckwith, Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, Ivory-billed Woodpecker Websites

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1. Forever Wild Purchases 340 Acres in Huntsville - Forever Wild, Alabama's land preservation program, "cut the ribbon" this week on the purchase of a new 340 tract on Green Mountain overlooking Hampton Cove and Jones Valley in Huntsville and Madison County. An effort that took nearly 3 years to complete, the purchase is the biggest piece of a nearly 900 acre outdoor preserve spanning parts of Green and Huntsville mountains.

This "model" public-private partnership was accomplished through the support of the City of Huntsville, the Madison County Commission and the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama. The land, was owned by the Certain family since the late 1800s.

According to the Huntsville Times, Drew Certain said his father, the late William Lewis Certain III, was a "consummate outdoorsman." "It was very hard to turn loose of the land. But I can't think of any better people to turn it over to." said Certain in the Times.

2. Forever Wild Car Tag Results: $250,000 + - According to a report from Joe Copeland, for fiscal year 2006, which ended September 30th, the Forever Wild Car Tag netted the Forever Wild Land Trust $253,546. This is a $44,929 or 21% increase from 2005.

To learn more about the Forever Wild car tag email Joe at joec@powernet.org

3. New Cahaba River Canoe Launch Near Selma - According to the Selma Times Journal, this week local and state officials celebrated the acquisition of a new canoe launch site on the lower Cahaba River. Located at the Alabama Highway 22 bridge east of Selma, the seven acre site is part of an effort to develop a Cahaba River Canoe Trail stretching from Birmingham to Selma.

The site, which is expected to open in 2007, is a partnership among The Nature Conservancy of Alabama, the Alabama Power Company, Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama-Tombigbee Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Alabama Department of Transportation.

4. BEN Notes: Nature's Lens Opening Reception, Wolf Bay Monitor Awards, Wenonah Area Safe Routes to School Workshop, Bay Buddy Training, Coastal Wonders at Camp Beckwith, Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, Ivory-billed Woodpecker Websites

Nature's Lens Opening Reception - Nature photographer Anne DelBene is making her Atlanta, Georgia debut with an open reception at Java Monkey: an organic coffee and wine bar, tonight (Nov. 3rd) from 7:00-10:00. The show titled "Tis a Beautiful Season" will run through November 30th. If you can't make it to Atlanta, check out Anne's beautiful work at http://www.natureslens.org

Wolf Bay Monitor Awards - Our friends at Wolf Bay in Baldwin County will be celebrating and recognizing their many dedicated water monitors this Saturday, November 4th, 4:00 PM at the Bay Forest Club House. State Senator Bradley Byrnes will be on hand to distribute the awards. To learn more about this event, call Liz at 850-712-1137.

Wenonah Area Safe Routes to School Workshop - The National Center for Bicycling and Walking will be facilitating a community discussion of Safe Routes to School. This workshop will promote safety and ideas on how to improve the walking and cycling environment. The event will be held on November 8th 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM at Lawson State Community, College Building 3, Birmingham. Contact Tom Maxwell at 205-264-8445 for more info.

Bay Buddy Training - The Alabama Coastal Foundation will be holding a "Bay Buddy Training," for individuals interested in volunteering for the Gulf Coast Bay Program, November 8, 3:00, PM at the Alabama Coastal Foundation Office, located at 122 Fairhope Ave. in Fairhope, Alabama. For detailed info, go to http://www.joinacf.org

Coastal Wonders at Camp Beckwith - Camp Beckwith, the Episcopal Church Camp in Baldwin County, has an innovative environmental education program called Coastal Wonders. Check out their website, http://www.coastalwonders.org/ for additional details.

Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium - Please make plans to attend the Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium on November 28-29 in Mobile. This event is one of the most important symposiums about the Gulf and Alabama's Mobile Bay held in the region. The last event of this kind that was held focusing on Alabama's coast was in 1995. For more details go to http://ambbs.mobilebaynep.com/ or contact Tiffany England at 251-431-6409 or Shonda Borden 251-438-5690.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Websites - Have you caught Ivory-billed Woodpecker fever? Check out these blogs/websites documenting the search...

http://ivorybills.blogspot.com
http://www.nokuse.org
Geoff Hill's Auburn University Website

Friday, October 27, 2006

BEN - October 27, 2006 #270

1) Success Stories: Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Longleaf
2) Habitat For Endangered Beach Mice
3) Found! Mimic Glass Lizard in the Conecuh National Forest
4) Hunters Feed the Hungry Program Tops 57,000 Pounds Donated
5) BEN Notes: CRS Activities, Birmingham Historical Society Celebrates Olmstead, ALEEC Fall Conference - Climate Change and Alabama, Moss Rock Festival, Weeks Bay Christmas Ornaments, 13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly, AUFA Annual Meeting, American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting

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Readers have requested where to send donations in memory of Shane Hulsey . Three groups have been chosen by the family, the Cahaba River Society, Nature Conservancy and American Whitewater. Please visit http://www.cahabariversociety.org to access the links.

You can also read a wonderful tribute by Birmingham News columnist John Archibald here.

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1. Success Stories: Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Longleaf - Last week, I was fortunate to witness the "relocation" of a pair of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the Talladega National Forest. It was a wonderful and moving experience.

The woodpecker relocation project was just one of the many public/private partnerships described during a morning media tour organized by Southern Company and its many partners, including the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Quail Unlimited. The following is a few of Southern Company's most recent conservation accomplishments:

* Four projects regionally have been funded, including restoration of 1,200 acres of red-cockaded woodpecker habitat on Alabama's Talladega National Forest, doubling from 20 to 40 the number of juvenile birds being moved annually to jump-start the growth of new populations.

* The Tuckabatchee Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, received $13,750 to convert 42 acres of clearcut and pine beetle loblolly plantations to longleaf in central Alabama using 21,000 seedlings; this planting compliments 440 acres of adjacent longleaf. One beneficiary is the endangered canebrake pitcher plant.

* In the South, since the "Power of Flight" partnership's inception in 2002, 32 projects have been funded, committing $1.5 million in Southern Company/National Fish and Wildlife funds, with a total grant impact of $4.3 million. More than 113,600 acres of private lands have been enrolled in bird habitat conservation programs and 37,000 acres of habitat has been enhanced through management.

* The Longleaf Legacy program has funded 16 projects region-wide committing $1.2 million in Southern Company/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds, with a total grant impact of $2.6 million. More than 4,847 acres have been replanted with approximately 2.4 million longleaf seedlings.To learn more about Southern Company's environmental programs and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's programs visit:
http://www.southerncompany.com/planetpower
http://www.nfwf.org

2. Habitat For Endangered Beach Mice - According to the Mobile Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a final ruling that will designate nearly 6,200 acres along the Alabama and Florida Panhandle beaches as critical habitat for three endangered beach mouse species. Of the 3 species, only the Perdido Key beach mouse lives in Alabama.

In Alabama, 147 acres will become critical habitat in Orange Beach and 114 acres within Gulf State Park property. Along with public land, 33 acres of private land has been been identified in Alabama as critical habitat. In total, 1,300 acres are now designated as critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse, most of which is in Florida's Escambia County.

For more info about this new designation, visit http://www.fws.gov/panamacity/hottopics/BeachMice.html

3. Found! Mimic Glass Lizard in the Conecuh National Forest - According to a recent report, earlier this year (May 21, 2006), Auburn University and Conservation Southeast scientists captured a Mimic Glass Lizard in the Conecuh National Forest. Not seen in Alabama since 1976, only three previous specimens had been documented in the state. The species is strongly associated with the longleaf pine wiregrass ecosystem and is distributed across the lower Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains from North Carolina to Mississippi.

To see a picture of the new-found Mimic Glass Lizard, visit Conservation Southeast's website at:http://www.conservationsoutheast.com/mimicus.htm

4. Hunters Feed the Hungry Program Tops 57,000 Pounds Donated - Since 1999, hunters have been donating venison to Alabama's food banks statewide. Last year, according to the Department of Conservation, 57,000 pounds of venison was donated. More than 319,000 pounds of venison have been donated since the program's inception.

The Hunters Helping the Hungry began as a joint effort of the Governor's Office, the Department of Conservation, the National Rifle Association and the Phillip Morris Company. Today, the program is sustained by annual fundraiser quail hunts hosted by the Governor.

As the 2006-2007 deer season approaches, hunters are encouraged to participate in this worthwhile program. For additional information go to:http://www.outdooralabama.com/news/release.cfm?ID=451

5. BEN Notes: CRS Activities, Birmingham Historical Society Celebrates Olmstead, ALEEC Fall Conference - Climate Change and Alabama, Moss Rock Festival, Weeks Bay Christmas Ornaments, 13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly, AUFA Annual Meeting, American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting

CRS Activities - The Beth Young Photography Workshop - Please make your reservations today, to learn photography - THIS WEEKEND - from Alabama's "Ansel Adams" - Beth Young. Learn more about this special workshop by going to http://www.cahabariversociety.org/BMYworkshop.htm or call today at 205-32-CLEAN and ask for Kim Adams.

Also.

Do not forget that on November 3rd at the Southern Progress Corporation (on Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, Alabama) the Cahaba River Society presents Tim Palmer, award winning author and photographer. There will be a reception, silent auction and slideshow. For additional details go to http://www.cahabariversociety.org/TIMPALMER.htm

Birmingham Historical Society Celebrates Olmstead - The Birmingham Historical Society has a special exhibit showing from October 9-31 and December 1-30 at the Birmingham Central Public Library. Titled The Olmstead Vision-Parks for Birmingham, the exhibit compliments a beautiful and information filled 72 page publication that is available for $20 at the Birmingham Library and at local bookstores.

ALEEC Fall Conference - Climate Change and Alabama - The Alabama Environmental Education Consortium (ALEEC) Fall Conference will be held November 4th, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Christenberry Planetarium on the campus of Samford University. The topic of the day-long conference is Climate Change and Alabama. For more info call 205-726-4246.

Moss Rock Festival - Check out the Moss Rock Festival (in Hoover, Alabama) November 4-5, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. This group probably has the coolest website I've also seen in a while. Go visit http://www.mossrockfestival.com for additional details.

Weeks Bay Christmas Ornaments - Start your Christmas shopping early by checking out the Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation's new 20th Anniversary Christmas ornament. Call 251-990-5004 for details or visit http://www.weeksbay.org/newsletter/Fall_2006/Pg2_2.htm to see a picture of the design.

13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly - World-renowned fisheries scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly will be giving a lecture on "Global Trends in World Fisheries" on November 1st, 7:00 PM at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Center in Mobile. For more information call 251-460-7136 or visit http://www.disl.org

AUFA Annual Meeting - The Alabama Urban Forestry Association will be holding it's annual meeting in Montgomery, November 3rd. For more information visit their website at http://www.aufa.com .

American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting - The Alabama Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation will be meeting November 4th, 9:00 to 3:00 PM in Huntsville at the Alabama A&M Agricultural Research Center Auditorium. For more info about the meeting call Wayne Boldin at 205-915-2863

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bham New's John Archibald Writes About Shane Hulsey

A wonderful tribute by John Archibald at the News. Read it here.

BEN Special Passages - Honoring Shane Hulsey

Dear BEN Readers:

Last Friday, Alabama's environmental community lost one of our most passionate advocates, Shane Hulsey. An environmentalist, paddler, husband, and friend, Shane died Friday in a boating accident on the Little River.

As a dear friend of Shane's, Rachel Reinhart wrote to me - "Shane worked to protect and preserve the Cahaba River as Education Director of the Cahaba River Society, reaching thousands of children and teachers with knowledge, skills and boundless enthusiasm. He was a great lover of wild lands and especially of wild rivers. When he wasn't working on rivers, he was playing on rivers across the southeast, an excellent paddler, advocate and friend."

Last night, I stood in line at the Walker Chapel Funeral Home to say good bye to Shane. While I entered the Chapel, there were pictures of Shane lined up in a pew. They were wonderful photos. A couple of pictures showed Shane smiling (and what an infectious smile), walking hand in hand with his wife Alison in a park. There was a funny picture with him dressed up in a costume at what looked like some kind of party. And of course there were pictures of him out on rivers.

River Hero

Among all the photographs, there was one item that caught my eye, that simply summed up my feelings about Shane. It was an award that was given to him by the Alabama Rivers Alliance in 2005 - it was titled "River Hero."

Everyday, Shane revealed and shared to so many of us, the gift of wonder, the gift of our waters and the gift of nature.

He especially shared that gift with children.

Our future.

That is a heroic gift.

That is what made him a River Hero to me and to so many people.

He shared his love of the world. And he did it with great joy.

Thank you Shane.

Best Wishes, Pat Byington BEN Publisher

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The Cahaba River Society has a wonderful tribute to Shane on their website. Funeral details and memorial information can also be found at the site.http://www.cahabariversociety.org

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To help reflect and honor the many gifts Shane gave us, below is a special edition of BEN Special Passages.

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"Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth." - Walt Whitman


"But the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope." - Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America


"If a flower blooms once, it goes on blooming somewhere forever. It blooms on for whoever has seen it blooming." - William Armstrong, Sounder


"But wildness is a hard walk. It is a walk up mountains that makes you hungry and thirsty. There are stones that cut your knees and you fall. There are lions that are real with claws. And they can kill you with little effort. But the air is clean and cool and you can see a long way from those peaks into Tomorrow and back to Yesterday. And Now sits like a butterfly on your outstretched hand." - Teresa tsimmu Martino, from the Wolf, the Woman, the Wilderness


Have you ever noticedClouds can look like fluffy pillows?
Have you ever counted all the stars up in the sky?
Have you ever watched the birds fly by?
Take a look above you.

Squirrels scurry up an oak tree.
See that yellow circle?
That's the sun who gives us light.
Way up high, I think I see a kite.

I wonder 'bout the world above Up there.
No matter where you go, it's everywhere.
Now the sun is setting.
Getting ready for tomorrow.

Soon the moon'll be glowing.
Showing off the moonlight.
Take a look above you.
Discover the view.
If you haven't noticed.
Please do. Please do. Please do.

- Kermit the Frog, It's Not Easy Being Green


"... Praise Thee, wondrous God for the blessed watershed that is Alabama, pliant to man's needs, gracious to his questing spirit. May her sons and daughters not forget Thy bounty, nor fail to deserve Thy benediction through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" - Alabama's Prayer at the National Cathedral

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bama Environmental News - October 12, 2006 #269

1) Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Expanded
2) New Mercury Reduction Rules Adopted
3) A New Alabama Sanctuary for Gopher Tortoises
4) BEN Notes: WWF Southeastern Rivers and Stream Support Fund, ACF Seeking Assistant Program Director, 3rd Annual Invasive Plant Symposium, Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee's "State of the Lake", Alabama Coastal BirdFest, Alabama Rivers Alliance "River Revival", Black Warrior Riverkeeper Party in Tuscaloosa, 13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly, AUFA Annual Meeting, American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting

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1. Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Expanded - Last week, the U.S. Congress gave final approval to the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act. Authored by Birmingham Congressman Spencer Bachus, the bill authorizes the expansion of the Refuge from 3500 acres to 7100 acres.
"Keeping the Refuge pristine for future generations has been one of my top priorities. The creation and expansion of the Refuge are important steps in what needs to be a comprehensive effort to preserve and restore the Cahaba River, " stated Bachus.

In the Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions championed the cause for expansion, securing Senate passage in the waning hours before the end of the Senate session.

2. New Mercury Reduction Rules Adopted - According to the Birmingham News, under new environmental regulations adopted by the Alabama Environmental Management Commission, Alabama's power plants will have to cut mercury emissions from their coal-fired power plants by 20% within the next four years and 70% by 2018.

Mercury is a toxic metal that is released when coal is burned. One in six American babies is at risk from mercury exposure because their mothers have unsafe levels in their bodies, the U.S. EPA found in 2004. Children exposed to mercury before birth can suffer from mental retardation, developmental delays and learning disorders.

U.S. utilities pour about 48 tons of mercury into the air each year. Alabama Power Co. is responsible for about 2.6 tons a year, according to company spokesman Michael Sznajderman. The company does expect to meet the new regulatory deadlines. In fact, one of the plants, the Miller power plant in western Jefferson County, hopes to reduce mercury by 80% by 2010.

3. A New Alabama Sanctuary for Gopher Tortoises - In an effort to stem the declining population of gopher tortoises in Alabama, the Department of Conservation has relocated 10 gopher tortoises to the Wehle Forever Wild Tract, located in Bullock County.

The innovative program helps private landowners relocate tortoises to protected habitat, where state biologists and wildlife experts can monitor and assist in the repopulating effort. The population of gophers continues to decrease in Alabama due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting, predators, disease, forest mismanagement, starvation, road mortality and poisoning.

The use of Forever Wild lands for gopher tortoise habitat and repopulation is another way the Forever Wild program benefits the state of Alabama. To learn more about gopher tortoises contact Eric Soehren at 334-834-4519 or visit http://www.gophertortoisecouncil.org/

4. BEN Notes: WWF Southeastern Rivers and Stream Support Fund, ACF Seeking Assistant Program Director, 3rd Annual Invasive Plant Symposium, Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee's "State of the Lake", Alabama Coastal BirdFest, Alabama Rivers Alliance "River Revival", Black Warrior Riverkeeper Party in Tuscaloosa, 13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly, AUFA Annual Meeting, American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting

WWF Southeastern Rivers and Stream Support Fund - The World Wildlife Fund is now accepting applications for it's Southeastern Rivers and Streams Support Fund Grants. The grants range from $3,000 to $5,000. The deadline for submission is October 27, 5PM central time. To receive the full details about the grants, contact Judy Takats at 615-279-1814 or judy.takats@wwfus.org .

ACF Seeking Assistant Program Director - The Alabama Coastal Foundation is seeking a Assistant Program Director. Details about this position can be found at http://www.joinacf.org or contact Cathy Barnette at cathy@joinacf.org

3rd Annual Invasive Plant Symposium - The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama and the Alabama Invasive Plant Council will be hosting their 3rd Annual Invasive Plant Symposium, Friday, October 13th 6:30 to 8 PM at Monte Sano State Park and October 14th, 9:00 to Noon at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. Both events are free to the public, but please call 256-534-5263 for reservations.

Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee's "State of the Lake" - The Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee will be holding their Annual Meeting and State of the Lake on October 21st, 9:00 AM at the Bethany Baptist Church on Cullman County Road 201. For more info call Deb Berry at 205-915-8830.

Alabama Coastal BirdFest - Check out one of the nation's largest events celebrating our "friend in the air" - the Alabama Coastal BirdFest , October 19-21. For all the details visit, http://www.alabamacoastalbirdfest.com .

Alabama Rivers Alliance "River Revival" - The Alabama Rivers Alliance will be holding "River Revival" October 22nd from 1:00PM to 6:00PM at King's Bend on the banks of the Locust Fork River. Tickets are $20 in advance, $60 for a car full - and they can be purchased at Deep South Fly Shop, Alabama Outdoors or at http://www.alabamarivers.org . For additional info call Jennifer Rupe at 205-322-6395 ext. 104.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper Party in Tuscaloosa - The Black Warrior Riverkeeper will be holding a benefit on October 26th, 6-8 PM at the Matt Jones Gallery in Tuscaloosa (2320 University Blvd). Tickets are $10. For more info call Charles Scribner 205-458-0095.

13th Annual Wiese Lecture Series - Dr. Daniel Pauly - World-renowned fisheries scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly will be giving a lecture on "Global Trends in World Fisheries" on November 1st, 7:00 PM at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Center in Mobile. For more information call 251-460-7136 or visit http://www.disl.org

AUFA Annual Meeting - The Alabama Urban Forestry Association will be holding it's annual meeting in Montgomery, November 3rd. For more information visit their website at http://www.aufa.com .

American Chestnut Foundation Annual Meeting - The Alabama Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation will be meeting November 4th, 9:00 to 3:00 PM in Huntsville at the Alabama A&M Agricultural Research Center Auditorium. For more info about the meeting call Wayne Boldin at 205-915-2863.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bham News Op-ed : Cancer Risk and the Environment

Below is an Op-ed I wrote for the Birmingham News. It appeared on October 1, 2006.

ADEM Strategic Plan Means Less Cancer Risk

By: Pat Byington

When I first met Stevie some 13 years ago, he was about as old as my 3-year-old daughter Whitney is today. He was like all of Whitney's little friends - full of joy, wonder and mischief.

About five years later, I saw Stevie again, this time at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. The doctors had saved his life from cancer, but not his leg.

A few years later, I invited Stevie and his mother to the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College. We were waiting for him to slide down the hands-on museum's famous "toilet slide" when we were startled by a clanging noise rolling down from the top of the slide. It was Stevie's artificial leg! Stevie soon followed it down the slide with a broad, infectious smile on his face. He thought it was funny.

Unlike smiles, cancers aren't infectious, but because of an Alabama policy decision, a person is more likely to get cancer here than in many of our neighboring states. There's nothing funny about that.

In 1991, the Alabama Environmental Management Commission adopted a cancer-risk level for rivers and streams in Alabama. The commission was asked to make a simple, but far-reaching, life-or-death policy decision: How many people will the state allow to get cancer as a result of the toxic pollution that industries discharge in the water under permits issued by Alabama Department of Environmental Management? Should we choose 1 cancer in 100,000 people or 1 cancer in 1 million people? One boy like Stevie or 10?

Despite being given the opportunity by the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a more stringent risk level, the commission, with the support of the Alabama Department of Public Health, adopted a cancer-risk level that was the least stringent. Today, Alabama still has the same 1-in-100,000 cancer-risk level it adopted 15 years ago. Mississippi, Florida and Georgia have all adopted the 1-in-a-million level.

Common sense tells us we should not stand by and let this continue. To better understand these policies, I met with Dr. Jeffrey Roseman, UAB professor emeritus in epidemiology. Roseman taught risk assessment for 20 years and served on the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry's Board of Scientific Counselors, a federal agency that studies the health effects of pollution. We discussed cancer and pollution, to which he reminded me that along with Alabama's cancer-risk level, many of our environmental and health standards do not address sufficiently chronic diseases, such as birth defects, asthma, and diabetes. They also do not adequately take into account the cumulative health impacts of toxic pollution.

Last July, in response to this issue and many others, the Environmental Management Commission's Strategic Planning Committee unanimously recommended a new draft environmental management strategic plan for the state. One of the cornerstone goals within the plan is to "ensure regulatory standards are most protective of health and environment in the nation based on science and ecological conditions." This goal was developed by commission committee members Dr. Kathleen Felker, a radiologist and a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness; and Ken Hairston, general counsel for Alabama A&M University, who has been a champion within the commission on behalf of environmental justice.

This Friday, the Environmental Management Commission has an opportunity to move forward the strategic plan and the "most protective" goal, to set into motion a re-evaluation of Alabama's health-based environmental policies, standards and regulations. If adopted, the result will be fewer cancers; cleaner air, land, water; and, most importantly, overall healthier Alabamians.

Now, that would be something Stevie, Whitney and all of us could smile about.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bama Environmental News - September 28th

1) Auburn Researcher Publishes Ivory-Bill Woodpecker Findings
2) Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center To Release Endangered Snails
3) Birmingham Metro Would Fail New Tougher Air Pollution Rules
4) 26 Alabama Mayors Pledge Support in Water War
5) Coastal Cleanup 2006 - The Numbers
6) BEN Notes: Village Creek Renew Our Rivers Cleanup, An Inconvenient Truth Viewing, Solar Home Tour, Weeks Bay 13th Annual Plant Sale, EcoFest 8, ARA River Revival, NEMO Training Workshops

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1. Auburn Researcher Publishes Ivory-Bill Woodpecker Findings - Earlier this week, according to the Mobile Register, Auburn researchers have published evidence that the long thought to be extinct ivory-bill woodpecker has been discovered in the Florida Panhandle.

Researchers said they've had 13 sightings of the ivory bill and some 300 distinctive calls and sounds associated with the elusive woodpecker. The last clear photos of the bird and uncontested proof of the bird's existence date back to the 1930's in Louisiana. In 2005, an announcement was made that the woodpecker was rediscovered in Arkansas. The researchers at Auburn have acknowledged that the evidence is not conclusive, but they have assembled lines of evidence including audio recordings and evidence of some 20 roost cavities in the Choctawhatchee River basin.

Auburn's lead researcher is Geoff Hill, who is considered one of the world's preeminent authorities on bird evolution and coloration. Their research has been published in the online journal Avian Conservation & Ecology. You can find the article at http://www.ace-eco.org

2. Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center To Release Endangered Snails - Alabama's new Aquatic Biodiversity Center, a program of the Alabama Department of Conservation plans to release approximately 10,000 juvenile Pilcate Rocksnails into the Locust Fork of the Black Water River in Blount County. The snails are offsprings produced from 160 adult snails collected from the Locust Fork in Jefferson County. This release, will be the first of it's kind of an endangered species, by the new center.

The snail, which requires clean flowing waters has been eliminated from 97 percent of its historic range (which was primarily throughout the Black Warrior River Basin) due to the construction of dams and water quality degradation. If successful, the release may eventually allow for the removal of the Pilate Rocksnail from the endangered species list.

For more information about this new and exciting program, contact Dr. Paul Johnson at 334-683-5000.

3. Birmingham Metro Would Fail New Tougher Air Pollution Rules - According to the Birmingham News, recently released air pollution rules by the Environmental Protection Agency pertaining to particle pollution would place the region in violation of air quality standards. Air quality officials have determined that three Jefferson County air monitors would fail under new tougher rules.

The new limits on particle air pollution is considered important by the EPA because the new tougher standard on particles will keep an estimated 15,000 people a year from dying premature deaths nationwide. EPA predicts the decision to strengthen the standard will cut by half the allowable particulate emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes.

4. 26 Alabama Mayors Pledge Support in Water War - This week, 26 mayors from the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin have pledged in a letter supporting Governor Bob Riley and state congressional efforts to prevent water from being "wrongfully redirected to Georgia" potentially harming the environment and industry.

The letter is in response to the long running water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.Mayors from the following Alabama cities signed the letter: Alexander City, Ashland, Camden, Centre, Childersburg, Coosada, Dadeville, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Grove Hill, Heflin, Lineville, Lowndesboro, Millbrook, Monroeville, Pratville, Rainbow City, Roanoke, Rockford, Sylacauga, Talladega, Thomasville, Wedowee, Wetumpka, White Hall.

5. Coastal Cleanup 2006 - The Numbers - The initial figures are in, and it looks like another "job well done" for this year's 19th Annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup, which was held earlier this month. The numbers are astonishing.

In Alabama, according to Amy King of the Alabama Department of Conservation, about 40 tons of trash and debris were picked up by 3,700 volunteers at 23 sites in Mobile, Baldwin, Covington, Escambia, Butler and Conecuh counties. Some of the most unusual items... pieces of a dog house and a deflated bounce house.

6. BEN Notes - Village Creek Renew Our Rivers Cleanup, An Inconvenient Truth Viewing, Solar Home Tour, Weeks Bay 13th Annual Plant Sale, EcoFest 8, ARA River Revival, NEMO Training Workshops

Village Creek Renew Our Rivers Cleanup - Come join the Village Creek Environmental Justice Society and Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers river cleanup program on Saturday, September 30 between 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. There will be live entertainment, a formal program and lunch for all volunteers immediately after the cleanup. Directions to Village Creek: Take I 20/59 West to Exit #121 (Bush Blvd/Ensley) go right off the interstate to Avenue V, which becomes Avenue W. go approximately 1/2 mile north to creek. The tent is located at 11th Street Ensley and Avenue M at the footbridge. For additional info call Dr. Mabel Anderson 205-798-0087 or Alabama Power at 1-800-LAKES11

An Inconvenient Truth Viewing - Didn't get to see Al Gore's documentary about Global Warming in the theaters? Here is your chance to view a free screening of the movie! The movie will be shown on Sunday, October 1st at 7:00 pm. - St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Birmingham 1024 South 12th Street (across from the Alys Stephens Center on the UAB Campus). The screening will be in the Parish Hall and there will be a casual discussion after the film.

Solar Home Tour - The Alabama Solar Collective is sponsoring a local Solar Home Tour in rural Blount County on October 7th starting at 9:00 AM. To register and directions, contact Stephen at 205-429-4120 or email greenworks@juno.com (be sure to write "Home Tour" in the subject line). For additional solar Home Tour sites check out http://www.ases.org

Weeks Bay 13th Annual Plant Sale - Join Weeks Bay Reserve's 13th Annual Native Plant Sale, October 6-8, 8:00AM to 4:00PM each day. For additional information and directions, call Weeks Bay at 251-928-9792.

EcoFest 8 - Please join the Southern Environmental Center for EcoFest 8 - Thursday, October 12th, 6-9 at WorkPlay (corner of 5th Avenue South & 23rd Street) in Birmingham. The live auction will be conducted by Alan Hunter (original MTV VJ fame) and Rick Journey from Fox 6. For ticket information go to http://www.southernenvironmentalcenter.org

ARA River Revival - The Alabama Rivers Alliance will be holding "River Revival" October 22nd from 1:00PM to 6:00PM at King's Bend on the banks of the Locust Fork River. Tickets are $20 in advance, $60 for a car full - and they can be purchased at Deep South Fly Shop, Alabama Outdoors or at http://www.alabamarivers.org . For additional info call Jennifer Rupe at 205-322-6395 ext. 104.

NEMO Training Workshops - ADEM's Nonpoint Source Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) program is one of the most innovative in the country. If you know a municipal official who would benefit from this program, NEMO is presently registering participants for their 2006 Training Session. The training is scheduled for October 26th at ADEM's Main Office, Room 1201 in Montgomery. For more information, contact Patti Hurley at 334-394-4350.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back to the Future: Margaret Thatcher on Climate Change in 1989

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, November 8, 1989** - from the book Speaking of Earth

"But the problem of global climate change is one that affects us all, and action will only be effective if it is taken at the international level. It is no good squabbling over who is responsible or who should pay. Whole areas of our planet could be subject to drought and starvation if the patterns of rains and monsoons were to change as a result of the destruction of forests and the accumulation of greenhouse gases.We have to look forward, not backward, and we shall only succeed in dealing with the problems through a vast international, cooperative effort."

For more info about Margaret Thatcher visit http://www.margaretthatcher.org/

**Note the date

Poor Laws Protecting Environment = Poor Governance

Wangari Maathai Passages from the Nobel Prize Lecture, Oslo, Norway, December 10, 2004

"As we progressively understood the causes of environmental degradation, we saw the need for good governance. Indeed, the state of any country's environment is a reflection of the kind of governance in place, and without good governance there can be no peace. Many countries which have poor governance systems are also likely to have conflicts and poor laws protecting the environment."

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"As I conclude, I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves, I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs' eggs, believing they were beads. But every time I put my little fingers under them, they would break. Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic, and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.Today, over fifty years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water--- which is not always clean--- and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder."

For more info about Wangari Maathai visit http://www.wangarimaathai.or.ke

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bama Environmental News Notes

Mobile Bay NEP Seeking Science Communicator - The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, which is administratively sponsored by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) has an opening for a Science Communicator Position. A Sea Lab Employment Application may be downloaded from the DISL website http://www.disl.org or requested by phone, fax or email. Return application along with three references (two work related) to: David Yeager, Mobile Bay NEP, 4172 Commanders Drive, Mobile, Al. 36615 ph. 251-431-6409, fax 251-431-6450, email dwyeager@mobilebaynep.com

Auburn University Seeking Outreach Associate - The School of Forestry and Wildlife Science of Auburn University is seeking candidates for the position of Outreach Associate/Senior Associate. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, providing professional expertise to provide advanced professional services for outreach activities, projects and programs; identifies project needs/opportunities, develops and delivers proposals, preparing reports; supervises staff. Refer to requisition #21738 and apply on-line at http://auemployment.com , if you need assistance contact Human Resources at 334-844-4145. Review of applications begin after September 18th.

Birmingham Audubon Society Education Program Deadlines - The Birmingham Audubon Society (BAS) offers mini-grants to help fund field trips, classroom speakers, and projects such as school gardens, bird feeding stations and nature trails. Visit the BAS website at http://www.birminghamaudubon.org (and click on grants and scholarships) and you will find an application and contact information. The application deadline is September 30th. If you are a classroom teacher who would like to receive "Audubon Adventures" (for more info about the program go to http://www.audubon.org/edu/aa ), contact Stan and Dana Hamilton at Stan_DanaH@bellsouth.net requesting that you be enrolled in the program. The deadline to notify the Hamiltons is September 15th."

Cahaba by Moonlight" - A special event benefiting the Cahaba River Society - "Cahaba by Moonlight" will held at the Carraway-Davie House Conference Center, September 28th, 6 PM. To learn more about this event which includes an auction and a gourmet menu, go to http://www.cahabariversociety.org

Losing Open Spaces....

The U.S. Forest Service has recently released an impressive 50 page report titled "Cooperating Across Boundaries - Partnerships to Conserve Open Space in Rural America." Some of the finding in the report include:

* Rate of open space loss in the United States per day, in acres - 6,000

* Rate of open space loss per minute, in acres - 4

* Open space loss to development between 1992 to 1997 in square miles - 24,000 square miles, the size of West Virginia.

* Open space projected to be developed by 2020 in square miles - 100,000 square miles, the size of California.

* Amount of private forestland lost to development from 1982-1997, in acres: 10 million.

* Net amount of forest projected to be developed from 1997 to 2030, in acres: 26 million.

The report also includes case studies and potential policy initiative to help address this important conservation issue. To access the report, go to - http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2006/releases/08/open-space.shtml


19th Annual Coastal Cleanup

With the Alabama Annual Coastal Cleanup only one week away, it is important to look back at what kind of effort is needed to pull off this enormous community effort. These figures came from the Ocean Conservancy:

In 2005, 654 volunteers came out to cleanup 131 miles of shorelines and waterways picking up 20,992 debris items that weighed 19,368 pounds.

Some of the top debris items included: Plastic beverage bottles (12.4%), Cigarettes (12.3%), Glass beverage bottles (10.8%), Caps and lids (10.2%), Beverage cans (9.9%), Building materials (9.1%),

69% of the debris comes from shoreline and recreation activities.

To access the Ocean Conservancy's entire report, and to compare Alabama to other states, go to
http://www.oceanconservancy.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8635


To find out how to participate in the 19th Annual Coastal Cleanup - September 16-19 - visit their website at
http://www.alcoastalcleanup.com

Thursday, September 07, 2006

6000 Acres a Day and Counting

The U.S. Forest Service has released a new urban sprawl and the loss of Rural Open Space study.

The most stunning figure:

In the U.S. we lose 6000 acres of open space a day

or

4 acres a minute.

Check out the report here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

E.O. Wilson Interview

Great interview in the U.S . News and World Report of Alabamian E.O. Wilson.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Newspaper Editorial Responses to ADEM Draft Plan

As chair of the Environmental Management Commission's Strategic Planning Committee, I welcome editorial support for the draft strategic plan. Here are the latest newspaper editorial excerpts on the subject.

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Huntsville Times

"Challenge for ADEM"

If there was ever a time when Alabama had to sacrifice and degrade its natural resources in order to provide for a sufficient economy, that time has long passed. Today, Alabamians want and deserve an agency that protects human health and the places, urban or rural, where people live and raise their children.

The Times urges the Environmental Management Commission to approve the proposed long-range strategic plan and dispel once and for all the idea that Alabama has its doors wide open to polluters and environmental ruin. Could any sensible person really want something different?

Entire article here

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Times Daily - Florence

"Raising the Bar"

If the Alabama Environmental Management Commission votes to adopt a long-range strategic plan submitted by a standing committee of the commission, the state could become one of the nation's premier examples of how not only to protect the environment, but to run a regulatory agency.

Entire article (you may need to register)

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Montgomery Advertiser

"Strategic Plan Pushes Laudable ADEM Agenda"

Simply put, Alabama needs to do a better job of protecting its air, land and water, striking a responsible balance between the needs of modern society and the proper care for the fundamental resources that sustain us all. A strategic plan for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, proposed by a subcommittee of the commission which oversees ADEM, is a major step in that direction.

Entire article..

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Alabama Power Wins EPA Lawsuit

Alabama Power won a big case on New Source Review today.

Here is an excerpt from the Birmingham News:

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In her ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Hopkins said the company had complied with the Clean Air Act. She said the EPA had a history of air pollution rules that aren't legally enforceable.

"To me, EPA sought ... and still seeks regulation by litigation instead of by notice and comment rulemaking," the judge wrote. "The agency's emissions rulemaking process has been characterized by problems with reviewing courts."

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Rest of the Article....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What is in the Air?

Birmingham News environmental reporter Katherine Bouma examined Jefferson County's toxic air pollution issues in last Sunday's Birmingham News (the story was on the front page).

Here is an excerpt from the B'ham News story:

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Engineers at the Health Department would not have discovered the toxic metal at all if they had not decided to go beyond federal requirements and capture the air in industrial areas to identify more than 100 gases, metals and other invisible chemicals.

"It's a soup out there," said Randy Dillard, air monitoring supervisor. "All that stuff is coming from a multitude of various sources, and it's hard to separate it once it gets out in the air."

Arsenic was only one of the heavy metals found at unsafe levels. Cadmium, nickel and manganese also were trapped in the monitors. The Health Department also found 14 gases, including benzene and formaldehyde, at high levels.

Health Department scientists are confident they will be sitting down with industry leaders soon to explain which of their chemicals are harming the public and must be removed from their emissions. If all goes well, the air could be cleaned up within two years.

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The good news - It looks like Jefferson County Health officials are "going beyond federal requirements". In the process of doing so, they found several heavy metals and gases at unsafe or high levels. As a result, they are addressing a potential health problem. That's encouraging.

You can read the rest of the story here and here.

Oil Crisis Series Part 3

Read Part 3 of this amazing series of articles on America's addiction to oil and the global ramifications. Read it here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

AEMC Strategic Plan Goals

On Friday, the Alabama Environmental Management Commission's Strategic Planning Standing Committee released to the Commission and the public it's recommended Draft Strategic Plan. Here is a list of the plan's 13 goals.

* Secure and Increase Stable Funding for ADEM

* Continue Strategic Planning Steering Committee Oversight and Accountability

* Continue Personnel Standing Committee Evaluation of the ADEM Director

* Increase Public Input

* Improve AEMC and ADEM's Relationships with the Public and Legislature

New Policy Goals

* Factor Environmental Justice into ADEN Programs

* Ensure Regulatory Standards are Most Protective of Health and Environment in the Nation based on Science and Ecological Conditions

*Increase Compliance with Issues Permits

* Expand Pollution Prevention Initiatives and Waste Reduction/Recycling Measures

* Review and Upgrade Notification Measures

* Enhance the State's Brownfield Program

* Update the 1991 Solid Waste Management Plan

* Review Emerging Environmental Management Issues

Read the entire AEMC Draft Plan by going here.