Monday, July 28, 2008

BEN - July 28, 2008 #307

The pier at Five Rivers in Spanish Fort, Alabama

(links - cut & paste)

Take Pride Statewide Conference - August 12-13 at Samford University

Football great Bart Starr and First Lady Patsy Riley are teaming up with Auntie Litter, holding the first ever Take Pride Statewide Conference for litter prevention at Samford University in Birmingham on August 12-13. It has also been announced that Senator Jeff Sessions will also be addressing the event. Please  register today at  or call 205-879-3009.


Project CATE

Now Available Skeeter's Wild Adventures, the second in the series of conservation curriculum by The Project CATE Foundation.  Skeeter's Wild Adventures includes conservation information about mammals, fishes, birds, reptiles and amphibians in the Southeast.  Produced and programmed by Educational Concepts, Skeeter's is an interactive CD Rom suitable for all ages and all grades.  The Project CATE Foundation and Educational Concepts spent eight years in production following the release of Ribbet's Big Splash in 2000.  You can order either CD online, free of charge to teachers, at or contact the Project CATE Foundation, Inc., c/o Neil Johnston, P.O. Box 123, Mobile, Alabama, 36601, or email


1. Alabama Health Department Issues Fish Consumption Advisories - According to an Alabama Department of Public Health press release last week, the agency added new fish consumption advisories for  12 bodies of water in Alabama.  The Health Department annually updates fish consumption advisories based on data collected the preceding fall by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Beginning with the 2007 advisories, the Department of Health adopted a contaminant level for mercury in fish that would protect those who might consider eating more than one fish meal per week.  This new standard which was produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency is 4 times more protective than the previous standard.  

The areas where the new advisories have been issued are: Choccolocco Creek - Calhoun County, Choccolocco Creek - Talladega County, Choctawhatchee River - Geneva County, Frank Jackson Lake - Covington County, Lake Jackson - Covington County, Lewis Smith Reservoir - Cullman County, Lewis Smith Reservoir - Winston County, North River - Tuscaloosa County, Pea River - Geneva County, Sepulga River - Escambia County, Lake Tuscaloosa County

Please visit  (here is the pdf file - ) to receive detailed information about new and previous advisories (there are 32 additional bodies of water listed) that are still in place, the specific locations of the advisories and the recommended consumption level.

2. Tuscaloosa County to Preserve 250 Acres of Hurricane Creek - In cooperation with the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority (PARA), the Tuscaloosa County Commission voted this week to purchase 250 acres along Hurricane Creek, including an environmentally sensitive section known as the M Bend (near Alabama Hwy 216 Bridge over Hurricane Creek). The land will be used as a public park. 

The property is being bought from the Trust for Public Land, a national, nonprofit land conservation group based in Tennessee.  The organization recently purchased  the land from a Tuscaloosa family.  According to the Tuscaloosa News, the goal behind the land purchase is to preserve and protect the land and the creek.  The land has been a popular site for canoeing and swimming and is know for its rare wildlife and rock formations. 

"This is probably the biggest thing that has ever happened environmentally in this county," stated John Wathen, director of Friends of Hurricane Creek in the News.

3. Cooper Family Preserves Land Near Little River Canyon National Preserve - Earlier this month the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama announced that they have received a donation of 23 acres of land  near Little River Canyon National Preserve, by the family of the late Jerome  "Buddy" Cooper.

The land, which is on the east bend of the Little River West Fork between Mentone and above Desoto Falls State Park in DeKalb County, was owned by Buddy Cooper, a prominent Alabama lawyer who served Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, represented labor unions in the turbulent 1950's-60's, and was an environmental pioneer leading the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center and campaigning for the Sipsey Wilderness.  There is a wonderful story about Cooper's life and love of the land on the Land Trust's website at

4. NOAA Plans To Invest $1 Million Restoring Alabama's Shorelines - Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced plans to invest $1 million over three years to help restore Alabama's Mobile Bay, partnering with local organizations and citizens to reverse the loss of wetlands caused by coastal development.

As part of the innovative restoration practice, "Living Shorelines," projects are already planned for Luscher Park on Dog River in Mobile County and an Alabama Oyster Reef and Fisheries Habitat Enhancement Program. Some of the local partners in this effort include the University of South Alabama, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and various local community organizations.

Through NOAA's Restoration Center, more than $7 million has been invested in the state of Alabama since 1999.  Altogether these projects have restored numerous salt marshes and seagrass, created oyster reefs, and educated coastal communities about the value of habitat and restoration.  Overall the program has engaged more than 1,100 volunteers and resulted in the restoration of approximately 90 acres of coastal habitat.

5. Birmingham's Citywide Cleanup Nets 200 Million Pounds Of Rubbish -  Here are some stunning numbers out of Birmingham on the amount of rubbish the city has hauled away from it's 23 in 23 citywide cleanup program.  According to a Birmingham News report, the city this year in the first 6 months, has disposed of 100,142 (200 million pounds) of rubbish, cut and cleared 2311 lots, cleaned 607 ditches and towed away 835 cars.

"We've cleaned things in the last six months that in some cases haven't been cleaned in 20 or 30 years," said Don Lupo of the Mayor's Office of Citizens Assistance. 

The 23 in 23 program was of the first projects instituted by Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford when he entered into office late last year.

6.  Alabama's Scenic River Trail Designated National Recreational Trail - The new 631 mile Alabama Scenic River Trail - a boating trail that stretches from the Coosa River in Northeast Alabama to Fort Morgan, has been designated a National Recreational Trail by the Department of Interior.  The river trail, which is billed as the nation's longest in one state is one of over a 1000 trails that have received the designation.

To learn how to trek the length of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, visit their website at

7. BEN Notes: Alabama Rivers Alliance Save & Share, Alabama Coastal Cleanup, Moon Over Three Caves Dance in Huntsville, Friends of Locust Fork's River Revival Outdoor Festival, John L. Borom Alabama Coastal Birdfest, My Energy Potential Website

Alabama Rivers Alliance Save & Share - Join the Alabama Rivers Alliance (ARA) and participating organizations in their Summer Save & Share Campaign.  All you have to do to participate is to implement some of the water-saving tips that can be found on the ARA website at, watch your water bills to see how much water and money you save, then donate the savings to the ARA or one of the participating groups.  As a special incentive, Good People Brewing Company, a new brewery that has opened  in downtown Birmingham, has agreed to match any Save and Share donations.

Alabama Coastal Cleanup - The Alabama Coastal Cleanup will be held this year on September 20 - 8 a.m. to Noon.  Contact Amy King at 251-928-9792 or for details.

Moon Over Three Caves Dance in Huntsville - Save the Date!  The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama will be holding their annual Moon Over Three Caves Dance - September 20, 7:30-11:00 pm at Historic Three Caves.  Please make reservations by calling 256-534-5263 or visit  for details.

Friends of Locust Fork's River Revival Outdoor Festival - Save the Date! The Friends Locust Fork will be hosting their 3rd annual River Revival Outdoor Music Festival, Sunday, September 21, 1:00 to 6:00pm at King's Bend on the Locust Fork River in Cleveland, Alabama.

John L. Borom Alabama Coastal Birdfest - Marl your calendars for the 5th Annual Alabama Coastal Birdfest to be held on October 16-18.  Check it out at

My Energy Potential Website - BEN reader Tabetha Reyes has developed a fantastic website about green buildings and saving energy.  Check it out at  

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BEN Special Passages - July 21, 2008

As a result of rising gas prices, and difficult economic times, we are hearing day after day the constant drumbeat to open up our public lands, shores and wildernesses to all forms of natural resource extraction.

Below is a compilation of "special passages" that I hope will inspire you and remind us all, why we must protect and preserve our national treasures and natural heritage. 

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington

Publisher BEN


….the glory of the United States must rest and has rested upon a firmer foundation than that of her purely material resources.  It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.  And this love is excited, primarily, by the beauty of the country.  

– J. Horace McFarland, remarks before the White House Conference on Conservation and Natural Resources, 1908


There are always rival claims to every unexploited area, and even the parks cannot stand up against such claims unless the strength of their own claim is recognized.  Unless we think of intangible values as no less important than material resources, unless we are willing to say that man’s need of and right to what the parks and wildernesses provide are as fundamental as any of his material needs they are lost…..

The generations now living may very well be that which will make the irrevocable decision whether or not America will continue to be for centuries to come the one great nation which had the foresight to preserve an important part of its heritage.  If we do not preserve it, then we shall have diminished by just that much the unique privilege of being an American.  

-  Joseph Wood Krutch


Wilderness is an anchor to windward.  Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich Nation, tending to resources as we should - not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water."

Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico


His (President Theodore Roosevelt) methods were often unorthodox.  In 1908 a canny speculator (later a United States Senator) saw the tourism potential of Arizona's Grand Canyon, and sought to control access to it by preempting the awe-inspiring overlooks with a series of mining claims.  The move would have been entirely legal, as the Canyon was part of the public domain.  The problem was taken with alarm to the President.  His first impulse was to make the Canyon a national park, but there was not time to wait for an Act of Congress.  Two years earlier, however, Congress had passed the Antiquities Act, giving Presidents the power to create 'National Monuments" for the preservation of 'historic landmarks....and other objects of historic or scientific interest."

Although the Grand Canyon seemed scacrely to fit the description, the Attorney General told Roosevelt he could take a chance and make it a national monument.  TR signed a proclamation on the spot, and withdrew the canyon and its rims from mining entry.  Twelve years later (after Roosevelt's death) the United States Supreme Court, in a broad minded moment, did some conserving of its own and upheld the action, putting the indelible ink of authority into a pen that congressional committees had hardly intended to place in presidential hands. 

- From the book The Quiet Crisis and The Next Generation, author Stewart Udall


Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.  And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. 

– Wallace Stegner

Friday, July 18, 2008

Southern Appalachian Landscapes - North Carolina

Cherokee National Forest in North Carolina
A Farm Outside Asheville, North Carolina

Southern Appalachian Landscapes - Alabama & Virginia

How I spent my summer - traveling from Alabama to Virginia

Above - The end of the Southern Appalachian Mountains  in Northwest Alabama

A farm near Lexington, Virginia

BEN - July 18, 2008 #306

1) Commute Smart Business Doubling in Alabama

2) Black Warrior Riverkeeper Protects Two Endangered Species 

3) City of Florence Adds Cooking Oil to Its Recycling Program 

4) Study: Birmingham 21st Worst Carbon Footprint in US

5) City of Fairhope Issues Land Disturbance Moratorium

6) BEN Notes:  Beach, Dune and Forest Excursions,  Alabama Coastal Cleanup, Vestavia Hill's 'Green Library", Alabama Hiking Trail Society Calendar of Events, Fresh Air Family Calendar of Events, Fall Migration Celebration at the Alabama Wildlife Center


Take Pride Statewide Conference - August 12-13 at Samford University

Football great Bart Starr and First Lady Patsy Riley are teaming up with Auntie Litter, holding the first ever Take Pride Statewide Conference for litter prevention at Samford University in Birmingham on August 12-13.  Please  register today at  or call 205-879-3009. 


1. Commute Smart Business Doubling in Alabama - Rising gas prices have turned many Alabamians into "carpoolers."  

According to Commute Smart in Birmingham interest and participation in their programs has nearly doubled in the past few months.  For example:

* New applicants for the Commute Smart Rideshare program has increased from 450 in April 2007 to 799 in April 2008. 


* Active registrants (people looking to carpool) in the Commute Smart database has increased from 3493 in June 2007 to 5957 in June of 2008. 

* Visits to the Commute Smart website has increased 4 times from 842 monthly visits to the Commute Smart website in January 2008 to 3709 first time website visits in June 2008.

As a result of high gas prices, Commute Smart's carpool, vanpool and bike match lists are growing by the day, making it more and more viable to help people carpool to work from their local community or neighborhood.  To learn more about Commute Smart in Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile visit

2. Black Warrior Riverkeeper Protects Two Endangered Species - The Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Alabama Biodiesel reached a settlement to the pollution lawsuit the Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed on August 22, 2007 in US District Court.  The Honorable Judge John E. Ott approved the settlement requiring Alabama Biodiesel to cease illegal discharges of oil and grease, obtain a pollution permit mandated by the Clean Water Act, and pay $27,500 for a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) in the Black Warrior watershed.

The SEP settlement will benefit Jefferson County's Tapawingo/Penny Springs, habitat of the federally endangered Vermilion and Watercress Darters and a pristine tributary of Turkey Creek.  Both endangered species live only in the Black Warrior watershed.  The parties chose the Freshwater Land Trust, to receive the Alabama Biodiesel's SEP payment and lead the restoration project.

3. City of Florence Adds Cooking Oil to Its Recycling Program - According to the Times Daily, last month, the city of Florence added used cooking oil to its 20 year old recycling program, with plans to transform the oil into cheap biodiesel to run city vehicles.  City residents will be asked to place waste cooking oil in secure container, to be picked up along with the city's other recyclable items that already include paper, aluminum, plastics and motor oil.

The city's wastewater department has developed a plan to build a $25,000 biodiesel production unit that will produce fuel to be used in city vehicles.  The elimination of the cooking oils in Florence will also prevent tons of grease that accumulates and gums up the city's sewer system.

4. Study: Birmingham 21st Worst Carbon Footprint in US - In a study produced by the Brookings Institute, the city of Birmingham ranks 21st out of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. for the worst per capita carbon footprints.

According to the study Metro Birmingham-Hoover's per capita footprint from transportation and residential energy use increased 8.41 percent between 200 and 2005.  the average per capita footprint of the 100 largest metro areas and of the nation increased 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent during this time, respectively. The transportation portion of Birmingham-Hoover's per capita increased 10.5 percent between 2000-2005 compared to an increase of 2.4 percent in the 100 metro areas.

To check out the entire Brookings report, visit

5. City of Fairhope Issues Land Disturbance Moratorium - According to, in June, the city Council of Fairhope established a moratorium on "land disturbance permits" that have a negative impact on wetlands within the city limits and the city's building permitting jurisdiction.  

"We want to save as many wetlands as possible because of the positive impact they have on stormwater runoff," said Barry Fulford, city build official.  'The more you take away from these areas that naturally soak up water, the more runoff you're going to have that ends up in the bay through sewers and creeks."

The new ordinance, which will be in place until October 15th, allows the city to tighten up its stormwater ordinances to protect wetlands.  

6. BEN Notes:  Beach, Dune and Forest Excursions, Alabama Coastal Cleanup, Vestavia Hill's 'Green Library", Alabama Hiking Trail Society Calendar of Events, Alabama Hiking Trail Society Calendar of Events, Fall Migration Celebration at the Alabama Wildlife Center

Beach, Dune and Forest Excursions - Walk through the Audubon Bird Sanctuary's maritime forest on Dauphin Island on July 29th, 9 a.m. to Noon.  Cost: $15 adults/$10 children - contact Mendel Graeber 251-861-2127 or

Alabama Coastal Cleanup - The Alabama Coastal Cleanup will be held this year on September 20 - 8 a.m. to Noon.  Contact Amy King at 251-928-9792 or for details.

Vestavia Hill's 'Green Library" - Vestavia Hills is building the first LEED building library in Alabama.  Check it out at

Alabama Hiking Trail Society Calendar of Events -

Fresh Air Family Calendar of Events -

Fall Migration Celebration at the Alabama Wildlife Center - Join the Alabama Wildlife Center on August 30th, 2:00 p.m. for the Fall Migration Celebration. For information about this exciting day-long event call Janet Byars at 205-663-7930 or visit

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

National Cathedral During the July 4th Holiday

The Great Seal of Alabama at the National Cathedral.  Notice how we celebrate our rivers!

Took this beautiful picture on July 3rd at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.