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

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.


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:


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

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