Thursday, November 15, 2007

BEN - November 9, 2007 #294

1) Mobile Register Exposes "Muddy 98"
2) List: Alabama's Cool Cities
3) Drought Dramatically Impacts 2007 Tree Seedlings
4) Forever Wild To Add Nearly 10,000 Acres In Central Alabama
5) Governors Agree To Address Water Basin/Drought Issue
6) Alabama Power Foundation Contributes $500,000 to Parks
7) BEN Notes: NWF's Catalog Choice, The Raindrop Benefit, 3rd Annual Meeting of the American Chestnut Foundation, Yancy Branch Tree Planting, Birmingham Audubon's Christmas Banquet, University of Alabama Sustainability and Climate Change Lecture Series


The Annual Constitution Convention Coalition Summit

On November 17th, the Constitutional Convention Coalition will be holding its annual summit at Birmingham Southern College from 9:00 to 3:00. Learn how you can help reform Alabama's Constitution by attending this very important gathering. Admission is free and lunch will be available. To register for the event, visit or email . Today - November 9th is the registration deadline.


Check out the Watershed Identity Project's new Cahaba River video by Hunter Nichols on You Tube. Go to


1. Mobile Register Exposes "Muddy 98" - For the past 2 months, the Mobile Register has broken numerous stories about the serious environmental damage that has been created by the state Department of Transportation's U.S. 98 road construction project near Big Creek Lake, Mobile's primary source of drinking water.

According to the Register, the damage from poor road construction practices include: a plume of sediment into Big Creek Lake that may require extra treatment and could reduce the lake's capacity; sediment from construction up to 2 feet deep damaging nearby wetlands and 2 to 3 inches of mud into parts of the pristine Escatawpa River.

Since the Mobile Register broke the story on September 19th, the Department of Transportation has spent $2.2 million attempting to bring the project's Best Management Practices into compliance and added one mile of additional silt fencing. The department has also delayed 23 road construction projects around the state to review environmental concerns.

Last week, in a meeting with the Register's editorial board, Joe McInnes, the Department's director stated... "I'm here to fall on my sword, to grovel, to apologize profusely." The Department of Transportation also claimed that ADEM had inspected the U.S. 98 project 16 times.

Below is a series of links/stories describing this environmental debacle in Mobile County.

Mobile Register's First Stories in September
Register's Editorial
McInnes Apologizes
Mobile Baykeeper's Website (This sued the Dept. of Transportation 2 years ago trying to prevent problems such as the one's described above)
Update: Breaking News: Register Points Out Additional Violations 5 days After Apology

2. List: Alabama's Cool Cities - Here is something "cool." In Alabama, the cities of Auburn, Bessemer, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa have joined 766 cities across the US, by declaring their municipalities "Cool Cities."

A project of the Sierra Club, the cities that have become a "Cool City" have signed onto the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement and committed their city to developing initiatives that will stem the negative impacts of climate change. To learn more "Cool Cities" and how to become one, visit -

3. Drought Dramatically Impacts 2007 Tree Seedlings - This year's devastating drought has claimed another victim - tree seedlings.

According to the Birmingham News, landowners planted new trees on 185,000 to 200,000 acres across the state this spring. Almost all of the seedlings will have to be plowed under and planted again (the exception being counties in Southwest Alabama) after this summer's drought and heat wave. Landowners consider a fledgling forest a success if at least 70% to 80% of the seedlings survive the first summer. According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, in the Birmingham region only 48% of the seedlings survived. In Walker county alone, only 17% of the seedlings survived.

The economic cost to private landowners is estimated at $25 million to $30 million.

4. Forever Wild To Add Nearly 10,000 Acres In Central Alabama - Last week, the Forever Wild program announced that it was about to make one of it's largest acquisitions in Central Alabama, with the purchase of 9800 acres near Rockford. The new Forever Wild property will be part of the Coosa Wildlife Management Area.

An important property that has been open to hunters since 1952, the land also contains rare mountain longleaf pine and a large group of the endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. Along with the land, several miles along Hatchet and Weogufka creeks will be permanently protected. The willing seller of the land, the Hancock Timber Resource Group, a timber investment company, also made a special effort in the past few years to enhance the wildlife in the area and manage the land for longleaf pine.

5. Governors Agree To Address Water Basin/Drought Issue - With the announcement last month that Atlanta only has approximately a 90 day supply of water in reserve, the long standing water sharing dispute between Alabama, Georgia and Florida concerning the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins erupted once again.

In response to this serious regional environmental and public crisis, the governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama met with the U.S. Corp of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington to address the matter. From the meeting, the Corps of Engineers agreed with Alabama's assertion that the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority is exceeding its allowable water withdrawals by 100% and that the Corps was to give the Atlanta area authority 10 days to explain how it will come into compliance. In addition, there was also an agreement between the parties to protect the flows into the Chattahoochee River at levels to enable the Farley nuclear plant in Southeast Alabama and Alabama industries along the river to remain in operation. The governors agreed to set a February 15th deadline to have all issues in their water dispute resolved.

** Check out the following Decatur Daily news article on the lack of water resource planning, not only in Alabama, but in the Southeast.

6. Alabama Power Foundation Contributes $500,000 to Parks - In an effort to help support the region's 3 park initiative, last month, the Alabama Power Foundation announced it was donating $500,000 to park projects in Birmingham. The following is a breakdown of the contribution:

Railroad Reservation Park - A planned 18 acre green space, recreation, and entertainment park in the heart of Birmingham - $275,000

Red Mountain Park - 1000 acres in Birmingham and West Jefferson County - $175,000

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center - A 1000+ acre urban park in East Birmingham - $50,000

Check out each initiative and how they will help "transform" Birmingham's image into a green city, by visiting their websites at - and

7. BEN Notes: NWF's Catalog Choice, The Raindrop Benefit, 3rd Annual Meeting of the American Chestnut Foundation, Yancy Branch Tree Planting, Birmingham Audubon's Christmas Banquet, University of Alabama Sustainability and Climate Change Lecture Series

NWF's Catalog Choice - Want to stop the coming "flood" of catalogs invading your mailbox this holiday season? Visit the National Wildlife Federation's Catalog Choice website at to find out how.

2nd Annual Raindrop Festival Art Auction - The 2nd Annual Raindrop Festival Art Auction benefiting the Hulsey Little River Land Trust will be held November 10th at ROJO in Birmingham, Alabama. The Hulsey Land Trust was founded in 2006 in honor of Shane Hulsey, the Cahaba River Society's CLEAN Director who died in tragic accident. For information about Shane and the new Land Trust please visit

3rd Annual Meeting of the American Chestnut Foundation - The Alabama Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation will be holding its 3rd Annual Meeting at the Birmingham Botanical Garden's Lecture Hall on November 17 at 10:00 AM. For additional details contact Wayne Boldin at or 205-915-2863.

Yancy Branch Tree Planting - The Alabama Coastal Foundation will be holding the Yancy Branch Tree Planting on November 17th, 9:00 to Noon (meet at the Village Point Pavilion) in Daphne. Contact the ACF at if you plan to volunteer.

Birmingham Audubon's Christmas Banquet - This year's Birmingham Audubon Society's Christmas Banquet will feature renowned history of American Birding author Scott Weidensaul on December 4th, 6:30pm at the Vestavia Country Club. The dinner and event is $35 per person. Get your reservation today by calling Mary Brewer at 205-967-0752. The deadline is November 27th. Additional info can be found at

University of Alabama Sustainability and Climate Change Lecture Series - Last night I attended an incredible lecture by Chris Mooney, the author of Storm World. I highly recommend Mooney's book and his website/blog . BEN readers should also check the University of Alabama's lecture series that resumes on December 6th. For details visit -

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