Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Ecoscape in West Birmingham

 A new ecoscape will be built on the grounds of The Faith Apostolic Church in West Birmingham.  The church property is also home to the endangered Watercress Darter.
Check out additional ecoscapes built by the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham Southern College at  .  Learn more about the Faith Apostolic Church and their work with the Freshwater Land Trust at

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

BEN - January 22, 2008 #298

1) Court of Civil Appeals Upholds Mining Permit Ruling

2) City of Birmingham Votes To Withdraw From Stormwater Authority

3) Freshwater Land Trust Secures New Conservation Easements

4) Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama Receives 19 Acre Donation

5) BEN Notes: Alabama Coastal Foundation Job Opening, Cahaba River Society's 20th Anniversary Meeting,  Homewood's Annual Salamander Festival, ADEM Water Conference, EEAA Conference, Legacy "State of the Environment Conference, Alabama Rivers Alliance Watershed Leadership Conference, Alabama Hiking Trail Society Conference,  Green Coast 2008,  Correction:  Tree Cities


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1. Court of Civil Appeals Upholds Mining Permit Ruling - Last month, according to the Associated Press, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals upheld an April 2006 ruling by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs, Jr., had struck down the Alabama Environmental Management Commission's decision approving a pollutant discharge permit granted to Tuscaloosa Resources by ADEM.

According to the AP report, the issue, in part was whether the North Fork of Hurricane Creek in eastern Tuscaloosa County already failed state water quality standards and was off-limits to further degradation by new sources of pollution.

An administrative law judge had recommended that the commission, which oversees ADEM, overrule ADEM's decision to issue the permit, but the Commission in February 2004 voted 4 to 1 in support of ADEM's action.

Two environmental groups, the Friends of Hurricane Creek and the Alabama Rivers Alliance sued ADEM as a result of the agency's decision.

In the appeals court ruling, the court said it was compelled to agree with Hobbs' determination that the AEMC's finding was "clearly erroneous."

2. City of Birmingham Votes To Withdraw From Stormwater Authority - Earlier this month, the city of Birmingham voted to withdraw from the Storm Water Management Authority (SWMA), an agency that monitors water pollution in Jefferson County.

SWMA fulfills federal requirements for local governments to monitor and control water pollution problems, including silt and mud from construction sites.  The agency, which includes 22 participating Jefferson County municipalities, has been described as a much needed "model of regional cooperation."  Losing Birmingham's financial support will cost SWMA about $775,000 a year or about 40% of SWMA's budget.  

The Birmingham City Council made the decision after representatives from the Malcolm Pirnie environmental engineering firm presented the case for withdrawing, saying the city could save about $100,000 a year.

Birmingham still has several steps it must take before it can be completely severed from SWMA by October 1st.

3. Freshwater Land Trust Secures New Conservation Easements - Before Christmas, the Freshwater Land Trust announced a wonderful gift.  On December 17th, longtime conservationists Britt and Judy Butler signed and donated a 32 acre conservation easement of their land along the Cahaba River to the Land Trust.  The gift was made all the more special, because it adjoins another conservation easement owned by Bob and Ann Tate, another well known couple with the environmental community.  In total, 45 acres along the Cahaba River will be permanently preserved.

To date, the Birmingham based Freshwater Land Trust has conserved close to 5,000 acres protecting over 90 streamside miles in the Greater Birmingham Region.  For more information about the Land Trust and conservation easements, contact Wendy Jackson at 205-226-7900.

4. Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama Receives 19 Acre Donation - Here is another good news story out of Madison County.  From the Huntsville Times, Huntsville natives Jean Berry and her daughter Lynne Berry have donated 19 acres in eastern Madison County to the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama.  The pristine property is located on the west side of Berry Mountain and adjoins 103 acres owned by the Land Trust.  A special place, the Berry family settled in the area in the late 1800's.

The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama celebrated in 2007 their 20th Anniversary.  Almost 5,000 acres in North Alabama have been preserved by the Land Trust, along with 33 miles of public trails and three major mountain preserves.  To learn more about the Land Trust visit  -

5. BEN Notes: Alabama Coastal Foundation Job Opening, Cahaba River Society's 20th Anniversary Meeting,  Homewood's Annual Salamander Festival, ADEM Water Conference, EEAA Conference, Legacy "State of the Environment" Conference, Alabama Rivers Alliance Watershed Leadership Conference, Alabama Hiking Trail Society Conference,  Green Coast 2008, Correction:  Tree Cities

Alabama Coastal Foundation Job Opening - The Alabama Coastal Foundation is seeking a full-time Programs Director.  Responsibilities include: coordinating educational and restoration projects; developing volunteer opportunities; conducting research and grant proposal writing.  Interested candidates should submit cover letter and resume to: Bethany Kraft:  -  Learn more about the Alabama Coastal Foundation at

Cahaba River Society's 20th Anniversary Meeting - The Cahaba River Society will be celebrating its 20th year at their annual meeting, to be held on Thursday, January 24th, 5:30 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  For details, visit .

Salamander Festival - This is a great way to spend a Saturday!  Join members of the Friends of Shades Creek at the Annual Salamander Festival in Homewood, this Saturday, January 26, 3:00-5:30 at the Homewood Central Park.  For more information, call 879-6866.

ADEM Water Conference - ADEM will be holding their 19th Annual Nonpoint Source Conference on January 30th in Montgomery, Alabama at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.  To register, go to

EEAA Conference - The 2008 Environmental Education Association of Alabama Conference will be held on January 31-February 2 at the Blue Lake United Methodist Camp near Andalusia.  To register, visit

Legacy "State of the Environment" Conference - Legacy will be holding their 2008 Environmental Partnership Conference on February 27-29 at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach. This year's topic is the "State of the Environment." To register visit -  - The registration deadline is Feb.1st.

Watershed Leadership Conference - The Alabama Rivers Alliance will be holding their annual Watershed Leadership Conference  on March 14-16, in Fairhope, Alabama at Camp Beckwith on Week's Bay.  For conference details visit  .

Alabama Hiking Trail Society Conference - The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will be celebrating the linking of the Pinhoti Trail with the Appalachian Trail at their 2008 Conference to be held March 14-16 at Cheaha State Park.  For details, visit

Green Coast 2008 - Save the Date - The GreenCoast 2008 Conference & Expo will be held at Mobile, Alabama's Arthur Outlaw Convention Center on April 9-10.  Register today at

Correction:  Tree Cities -  In the December 17th edition of Bama Environmental News, we reported that the city of Montgomery is positioned to become the 5th city in Alabama to earn a "Tree City USA 'designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  That statement was incorrect.  There are actually, nearly 80 Tree Cities in Alabama (the list can be found here 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Aldo Leopold - From BEN Passages

Just finished reading Aldo Leopold's "The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

"For twenty centuries and longer, all civilized thought has rested upon one basic premise: that it is the destiny of man to exploit and enslave the earth.

The biblical injunction to "go forth and multiply" is merely one of many dogmas which imply this attitude of philosophical imperialism.

During the past few decades, however, a new science called ecology has been unobtrusively spreading a film of doubt over this heretofore unchallenged "world view."  Ecology tells us that no animal -not even man- can be regarded as independent of his environment.  Plants, animals, men, and soil are a community of interdependent parts, an organism.  No organism can survive the decadence of a member....  It may flatter our ego to be called the sons of man, but it would be nearer the truth to call ourselves the brothers of our fields and forests." -    Aldo Leopold, Dedication Ceremony of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum - 1934


"Conservation means harmony between men and land.

When land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation.  When one or the other grows poorer, we do not."  - Aldo Leopold, The Farmer as a Conservationist - 1939


"Everyone ought to be dissatisfied with the slow spread of conservation to the land.  Our "progress" still consists largely of letterhead pieties and convention oratory.  The only progress that counts is that on the actual landscape of the back forty, and here we are still slipping two steps backward for each forward stride.

The usual answer to this dilemma is "more conservation education."  My answer is yes by all means, but are we sure that only the volume of educational effort needs stepping up?  Is something lacking in its content as well?  I think there is, and I will attempt to define it.

The basic defect is this:  we have not asked the citizen to assume any real responsibility.  We have told him that if he will vote right, obey the law, join some organizations, and practice what conservation is profitable on his own land, that everything will be lovely; the government will do the rest.

This formula is too easy to accomplish anything worthwhile.  It calls for no efforts or sacrifice; no change in our philosophy of values.  It entails little that any decent and intelligent person would not have done, of his own accord, under the late but not lamented Babbitian code.

No important change in human conduct is ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphases, our loyalties, our affections, and our convictions.  The proof that conservation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct lies in the fact that philosophy, ethics, and religion have not yet heard of it.  I need a short name for what is lacking; I call it the ecological conscience.  Ecology is the science of communities, and the ecological conscience is therefore the ethics of community life."  - Aldo Leopold, The Ecological Conscience - 1947