Tuesday, September 04, 2007

BEN - Labor Day Special

Dear BEN Reader:

I love this time of year. It seems every Labor Day weekend the temperatures fall 10 degrees (unfortunately that means to 90 + degrees this year), soccer and football season begin, schools open, and every weekend from now until December people volunteer to help cleanup their streams and neighborhoods, birdwatch, walk in the woods and slowly observe the trees change colors.

To start the "after Labor Day" season off right, below is a list of some wonderful books, quotes, websites and activities to help prepare and energize us for this time of year.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington
Publisher - BEN


1) Labor Day Reading List - Mirage, Refuge, Here If You Need Me, Ivorybill Hunters and Longleaf
2) Inspirational Environmental Quotes
3) Website Resources - Helpful Tips, Photography and Environmental Reports
4) Volunteer Alabama - Opportunities to Help "Cleanup Alabama"

1. Labor Day Reading List - Mirage, Refuge, Here If You Need Me, Ivorybill Hunters and Longleaf

Below are links to books I read and re-read this summer that are timely and inspirational. One book I have yet to read (just ordered it on Amazon) Here if You Need Me: A True Story, is written by Kate Braestrup, the sister of Angel Braestrup, executive director of the Munson Foundation, a foundation that funds many worthwhile environmental projects/programs in Alabama. The reviews have been wonderful (by the way Kate was just named a CNN Hero). Here is the rest of the Labor Day Book List.

Mirage : Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. by Cynthia Barnett

A timely book. I read Mirage in August, right in the middle of the heat wave/drought that was hitting Alabama. Fortunately, for my family and I, we were on vacation enjoying 70+ degree weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Refuge - An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

Just re-read this book. I was fortunate to meet Terry Tempest Williams more than 10 years ago at a conference in California. A graceful, inspirational woman, Refuge is about nature, cancer, beauty and simple life. A lovely book.

Ivorybill Hunters: The Search for Proof in a Flooded Wilderness by Geoffrey Hill

A fun read, especially if you are a birder in Alabama and interested in "unlocking" the Ivorybill mystery.

Longleaf by Roger Reid - also go to Roger's website here

Geared toward younger readers, Longleaf will "capture" and take your child (and you!) on a journey through Alabama's Conecuh Forest.

2. Inspirational Environmental Quotes and Passages

"Judaism prescribes blessings for ordinary events and blessings for extraordinary ones. The ordinary event, the daily rising of the sun, is greeted with a blessing that evokes a time when the world had just come into being: "We praise God who daily renews the works of creation." When it comes to extraordinary events, there is also a blessing, not well known among modern Jews, that mentions creation. The blessing is to be said 'upon seeing lightning, comets, falling stars, vast deserts, great rivers, high mountains, experiencing a great storm or an earthquake, or seeing a strikingly clear morning after an all night rainstorm." It reads, "We praise you God who provides us with moments reminiscent of creation."
- Nancy Fuchs - Our Share of Night, Our Share of Morning


The Peace of Wild Things
- A poem by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there. I may never in my life get to Alaska ... but I am grateful that it's there. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.
- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness


I know a man who is a poet. It is true that he would not know himself by such a title, for he does not write verse; he is a farmer. He is a poet because he knows the joy of creation. A never failing delight is the appearance of living, growing plants in a patch of dirt where, only a few days before, he has placed some dry grains...
- Harold William Rickett, The Green Earth


3. Website Resources - Helpful Tips, Photography and Environmental Reports

Check out these websites:

Helpful Tips

Wise use of water during the drought:

Save Energy - Save Money

Green Building Materials

Sustainable Living

Nature Photography
Charles Seifried - http://www.seifriedphoto.com/
Beth Young - http://www.kingfishereditions.com

Environmental Reports
Georgia Tech "Emerging MegaRegions" Study (hit PAM Link to access file)
The Wilderness Society's "U.S. Forest Carbon and Climate Change Report "

4. Volunteer Alabama - Opportunities to Help "Cleanup Alabama

If you are interested in volunteering in a local "cleanup" this fall - below is info about events across Alabama.

Alabama Coastal Cleanup - Join volunteers from across Alabama for the 20th Annual Coastal Cleanup scheduled for September 15th. For details, visit http://www.AlabamaCoastalCleanup.com

Five Mile Creek Clean Ups - There will be cleanup events held along Five Mile Creek near Birmingham on Sept. 29, Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. Contact Francesca Gross at fgross@rpcgb.org or call 205-264-8464.

Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers - Alabama Powers Renew Our Rivers campaign has helped organize volunteers and cleanup more than 7.5 million pounds from Alabama's lakes and stream since 2000. Check out their Fall 2007 schedule for dates, times and contact info.

BEN - August 28, 2007 #290

1) Alabama Experiencing "Exceptional" Drought Conditions
2) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Releases Preliminary 2006 National Recreation Survey
3) State and City of Montgomery Team Up on Biodiesel
4) AWF Governor's Awards Winners & AEC's Award Winners
5) BEN Notes: Nature Conservancy Open Position, New Executive Directors Hired at TNC and AEC, Alabama Clean Corridors Workshop, 8th Annual "Moon Over Three Caves" in Huntsville, "Seems to be...Home Grown Project" (in Mobile), Cahaba River Society's Cahaba By Moonlight, Rivers Alliance 2nd Annual Revival, Mobile BayKeeper 10th Anniversary Celebration, SEC's EcoFest 9


1. Alabama Experiencing "Exceptional" Drought Conditions - According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, almost the entire state of Alabama, except for the Southwest Coastal corner of the state, is experiencing "extreme" (D3) to "exceptional" (D4) drought conditions. The U.S. Drought Mitigation Center released its report that 74% of the state is at D4, which is the highest level on the drought scale.

The Drought Monitor also reported that most long-term weather stations from Montgomery northward set or tied records for "string of days" above 100 degrees last week. About 15% of the state's water providers have reported that they have implemented some type of water restriction. Many weather stations are still reporting this year as being the driest or second driest year to date precipitation for the period of record.

In response to these conditions, the Alabama Forestry Commission issued a "No Burn Order" for 59 counties, declaring that emergency drought conditions existed in those counties. According to the Commission, 3583 fires have already occurred in 2007, burning 64,800 acres. This is approximately 62% higher loss than our annual average of 40,000. This year's fires have damaged or destroyed 40 homes and 176 other structures. Commission and volunteer fire fighters were able to save 2810 homes and 854 other structures from wildfires by their direct actions.

To learn more about the drought and the "No Burn Order" visit the following websites:


2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Releases Preliminary 2006 National Recreation Survey - Earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the preliminary findings from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Study.

Nationally, in 2006, more than 87 million Americans, or 38% of the United States' population age 16 and older hunted, fished or observed wildlife. They spent $120 billion pursuing those activities. Further broken down by category, 30 million people fished and spent $41 billion on their activities, 12.5 million hunted and spent $23 billion, and 71 million observed wildlife and spent a total of $45 billion.

Here are some of the statistics concerning Alabama (Population 16 and older):

Number of Fishing Participants - 808,000
Number of Hunting Participants - 397,000

Number of Wildlife Participants:
Around the Home Participants - 989,000
Away from Home Participants - 458,000

Expenditures Where Spending Took Place:
Fishing - $734,556,000
Hunting - $654,845,000
Wildlife Watching - $441,677,000

Percentage of Participants in Wildlife (16 years and older)
Percent Total Participants in Alabama - 40%
Percent of Sportspersons in Alabama - 20%
Percent of Wildlife Watchers in Alabama - 28%

To view the entire preliminary study visit, http://federalaid.fws.gov/surveys/surveys.html

3. State and City of Montgomery Team Up on Biodiesel - Last week, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright and State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks announced the creation of a new innovative city-state partnership using biodiesel in 475 city of Montgomery vehicles that operate on diesel. Montgomery hopes to save about $100,000 a year by using biodiesel made from cooking oil from KFC restaurants. Using a mix called B20, the mix for the fuel is 80% diesel and 20% cooking oil. The operation expects to make about 100 gallons of biodiesel daily.

Along with being an inexpensive fuel source, the new program also addresses another major problem - the need to repair, clear and replace sewer lines because they have been clogged by cooking oil being poured down drains.

4. AWF Governor's Awards Winners & AEC's Award Winners - This month, the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) and the Alabama Environmental Council (AEC) held their Annual Meetings. At each meeting, these venerable and prominent statewide conservation (AWF was founded in 1935, while the AEC was founded in 1967 as the Alabama Conservancy) groups honored individuals and organizations for their dedication to Alabama's environment. Here is a listing of the award winners.

Alabama Wildlife Federation's 2007 Governor's Conservation Award Recipients

- Legislative Conservationist of the Year - Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, House Speaker Rep. Seth Hammett, Sen. Hinton Mitchum, Sen. Kim Benefield, Sen. Jimmy Holley, Sen. J.T. Waggoner, Rep. Thomas Jackson, Rep. John Robinson, Rep. Barry Mask
- Wildlife Conservationist of the Year - Mark Bailey
- Conservationist of the Year - The Isabel & Wiley Hill Family
- Air Conservationist of the Year - Jenkins Brick Company
- Conservation Organization of the Year - Alabama River Clean Water Partnership
- Water Conservationist of the Year - Doug Fears

Alabama Environmental Council 2007 Awards

- Conservation Organization of the Year - Black Warrior Riverkeeper
- Malcolm Stewart Award - Conservation Service by a Volunteer - Joseph Lang, Fresh Air Family
- Blanche Dean Award - Outstanding Nature Educator - Marty Schulman, Ruffner Mountain
- Mary Burks Legacy Award - Jenny Dorgan
- Bob and Mary Burks Award - Outstanding Board Member - Ouida Fritschi

5. BEN Notes: Nature Conservancy Open Position, New Executive Directors Hired at TNC and AEC, Alabama Clean Corridors Workshop, 8th Annual "Moon Over Three Caves" in Huntsville, "Seems to be...Home Grown Project" (in Mobile), Cahaba River Society's Cahaba By Moonlight, Rivers Alliance 2nd Annual Revival, Mobile BayKeeper 10th Anniversary Celebration, SEC's EcoFest 9

Nature Conservancy Open Position - The Nature Conservancy of Alabama is seeking a Conservation Director. To learn about this position visit http://www.nature.org/careers/dynamic/jobs.html (go to the Birmingham, Alabama listing)

New Executive Directors Hired at TNC and AEC - Recently, The Nature Conservancy of Alabama and the Alabama Environmental Council each hired new Executive Directors to lead their organizations.

Last month, The Nature Conservancy hired their conservation director, Chris Oberholster, to take the helm of the Nature Conservancy, Alabama's largest land trust organization. A couple of weeks later, this month, the Alabama Environmental Council, after a national search, hired Michael Churchman to lead the Council. To learn more about these two environmental leaders go to -


Alabama Clean Corridors Workshop - The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition will be holding a series of "Alabama Clean Corridor" workshops throughout Alabama from September 11-14. If you care about clean fuel sources and clean air these workshops are for you. For details and registration info, visit http://www.AlabamaCleanCorridors.com or call 205-402-2755.

8th Annual "Moon Over Three Caves" in Huntsville - Come join the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama for their 8th Annual "Moon Over Three Caves" event. One of Huntsville's largest and "coolest" fundraising events, proceeds raised from ticket sales and the silent auction benefit the Land Trust. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling 256-534-5263. For additional details, visit http://www.landtrust-hsv.org/calendar_of_events.htm

"Seems to be...Home Grown Project" (in Mobile) - A group of Mobile fashion designers are hosting a fashion show and silent auction on Sunday, September 16th at 4:30pm at Cafe 615 in Mobile. Proceeds will benefit Mobile Baykeeper and Penelope House. Tickets are $12 and seating is limited by reservation only. For more info, contact Sarah Bohnenstiehl at 334-332-7417.

Cahaba River Society's Cahaba By Moonlight - "Cahaba By Moonlight," an event benefiting the Cahaba River Society, will be held on September 20th at 6:00 at the Carraway-Davie House and Conference Center in Birmingham. Enjoy an elegant dinner, jazz music and a live and silent auction on the historic grounds of the Carraway-Davie House. The event is open to the public. General admission is $100 per person. For additional details, visit http://www.cahabariversociety.org or call 205-32-CLEAN to make a reservation.

Rivers Alliance 2nd Annual Revival - The Friends of the Locust Fork River will be hosting the 2nd Annual River Revival, a river bluegrass festival benefiting the Alabama River Alliance, Sunday, September 30th, 1-6 pm. at King's Bend on the banks of the Locust Fork River in Cleveland, Alabama. For details, visit http://www.alabamarivers.org or call 205-322-6395.

Mobile BayKeeper 10th Anniversary Celebration - Mobile Baykeeper will be celebrating their 10th Anniversary on October 4th, 6-8 pm at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center on the Causeway. The keynote speaker for the event will be Steve Fleischli, President of Waterkeeper Alliance. Entertainment will be provided by the local bluegrass band, Delta Reign, featuring Kenji Bunch, Composer in Residence with the Mobile Symphony. Food, beer and wine will also be served. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling Mobile Baykeeper at 251-433-4229. You can also visit http://www.mobilebaykeeper.org for additional details.

SEC's EcoFest 9 - Mark your calendar - The Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College will holding their EcoFest 9, Thursday, October 11, 6-9pm at WORKPLAY in Birmingham. This year's gourmet food will be provided by Gray Bynum of Culinard & Chris Dupont of Cafe Dupont. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling the SEC at 205-226-4934.