Thursday, October 09, 2008

BEN - October 9, 2008 #309

(cut & paste links)

1) Watercress Darter Fish Kill in Birmingham

2) Alabama's Freshwater Biodiversity - Info from the Nature Conservancy

3) Birmingham Business Journal's Green Awards

4) Engineering News-Record Names Top Alabama Contractors

5) America's First Biofuels Corridor Opens In Mobile

6) Ruffner Mountain Construction Underway

7) BEN Notes: Help Wanted: Enviro Jobs Available, Renew Our Rivers Schedule, Alabama Heritage Wild and Rural Art Show, Weeks Bay Native Plant Sale, Baldwin County League of Women Voters "Critical Water Issues", Alabama Wildlife Center "Creatures of the Night", Bays and Bayous Symposium, Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Sweetwater Brewing Company "Save the Black Warrior River" 


Ecofest 10 Tonight

The Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham Southern College will be celebrating Ecofest 10 tonight, September 9th, 6pm at WorkPlay in Birmingham.  Don't miss this fantastic event and a chance to support environmental education.  Tickets are available at the door for $50.


Thicket Magazine and Breast Cancer Awareness

Subscribe to Thicket during the months of October and November and 50% of the proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, North Central Alabama Affiliate. Look for the pink subscription cards inside the magazine (found in local Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million bookstores around the state), or subscribe online.


Check out Huntsville Times John Ehinger's Blog "Bird Droppings"


1. Watercress Darter Fish Kill in Birmingham - Last month, city of Birmingham employees removed a dam in a Roebuck Springs pond that resulted in killing or stranding 11,760 endangered watercress darters.  The removal of the dam, at the edge of the pond, was done without consultation with federal agencies, according to the Birmingham News.  

Until the dam was breached, the park's 50 to 60 foot wide pond was home to the largest population of the federally protected watercress darter, which lives in only four known locations, all in Jefferson County.  The dam was removed because the pond occasionally flooded adjacent tennis courts.  

In coordination with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, a team of biologists have made recommendations in an effort to restore the darter's habitat.  Their recommendations can be found here -

To view "before and after" pictures of the pond and a detail story about this devastating incident, visit - 

You can also read an op-ed BEN publisher Pat Byington wrote about the watercress darter in 2007.

2. Alabama's Freshwater Biodiversity - Info from the Nature Conservancy -  How does Alabama rank nationally in freshwater biodiversity?  From the Nature Conservancy of Alabama:

Alabama Ranks 1st Nationally in Freshwater Biodiversity

1st - Freshwater Fishes - 317 species

1st - Freshwater Mussels - 178 species

1st - Freshwater Snails - 174 species

1st - Crayfish - 85 species

1st - Turtles - 27 species

Alabama Ranks 2nd in extinctions (1st in lower 48 states)

Number of species

                                         Extinct                 Extirpated               Total                             

Freshwater Mussels               27                         18                       45

Freshwater Snails                  39                          2                        41

Freshwater Fish                     2                            9                        11

Birds                                     3                            2                        5

Mammals                               0                            4                        4


Total                                   71                           35                     106

3. Birmingham Business Journal's Green Awards - The Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) announced their Going Green Awards last week at a luncheon in downtown Birmingham.  The BBJ received 75 nominations in six categories.  The following are this year's winners:

Green Project of the Year - Hilltop Montessori School

Finalists - Red Mountain Park, Miller Gorrie Center, 4-H Environmental Center

Green Advocate of the Year - USGBC Alabama Chapter

Finalists - Cahaba River Society, HKW Associates

Green Builder of the Year - JohnsonKreis Construction

Finalists - Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, Stewart Perry

Green Business Leader of the Year - Ruffner Page, McWane Inc.

Finalists - Andy Fagan, WattStopper; Chris Lewis, L&S Enterprises; Joy Maples, Earth Creations

Green Educator of the Year - Scott Walton, Green Resource Center for Alabama

Finalists - Pete Conroy, Jacksonville State University; Homewood City Schools

Green Innovator of the Year - Trussville Springs

Finalists - Freshwater Land Trust, Seedco Financial

Check out the winners at - or order their Green Awards special edition by calling 205-322-0000.

4.  Engineering News-Record Names Top Alabama Contractors -  The construction trade magazine, Engineering News-Record, known for its industry lists, named five (5) Alabama Contractors to its list of the nation's Top 100 Green Contractors for 2008.

Published in its September 22nd issue, the listing was based on the volume of green projects worked on by contractors that have been  registered or certified based on sustainability.  An example of certification would be the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certifications.  Here is how the five Alabama companies ranked nationally:

#23 - Harbert International LLC of Birmingham

#26 - Caddell Construction Co. Inc. of Montgomery

#58 - BE&K Inc. of Birmingham

#89 - Hoar Construction LLC of Birmingham

5. America's First Biofuels Corridor Opens In Mobile - Earlier this week, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and the ADECA-Energy Division, in partnership with Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee state governments and businesses, opened up the nation's first Biofuels Corridor on I-65 beginning in Mobile and ending in Gary, Indiana.

There will now be thirty-two (32) E85 ethanol and eight (8) B20 biodisesel pumps throughout the 886 mile I-65 corridor. Fifteen (15) of the E85/B20 pumps  are located in Alabama.  E85 (85% Ethanol and 15% Gasoline) can be used in any vehicle designated to use "Flex Fuels."  A guide to determine if your vehicle is Flex-Fuel ready may be found at .  B20 (20% Biodiesel, 80% petroleum based diesel) may be used in any diesel engine.

Alabama has been moving forward on several fronts in the past 2-3 years promoting alternative energy/fuels.  Some of those of those projects have included:

* City of Hoover is operating 85% of its vehicles on alternative fuels;

* "Grease to Biodiesel" programs implemented in Hoover, Montgomery, Daphne, and Gadsden;

* City of Auburn's 250 diesel vehicle fleet now uses biodiesel;

* Gulf Coast Energy opens and produces ethanol at their first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Livingston, Alabama.

To learn more about the I-65 Biofuels Corridor and projects throughout Alabama, visit

6. Ruffner Mountain Construction Underway - Exciting news from Ruffner Mountain. Stewart Perry has been awarded the contract by Ruffner Mountain Nature Center for construction of its new LEED certified Tree Top Visitor Center and Education Pavilion.  These “green” structures will replace the existing Visitor Center (a former residence) and small pavilion. The existing pavilion is being moved and rebuilt near Ruffner’s new wetland located off Ruffner Road.  

Construction began September 3 and is expected to be completed by early summer 2009.  The Visitor Center will contain new live wildlife exhibits (turtles, snakes, frogs & non-releasable birds of prey), a birdviewing window, a large multipurpose meeting/activity room, staff offices, restrooms, gift shop and a viewing deck.  The new Education Pavilion will have a large space for programs, restroom facilities, a vending area with adjacent picnic deck and storage space.  Already completed is a 3 acre wetland with an ADA accessible boardwalk/trail winding through it located on the Irondale side of the mountain.  A new access road to the wetland has been surveyed but no construction date has been announced. Ruffner’s Board of Directors is completing its capital campaign for this $5.5 million Phase I of a 2005 Master Plan for expansion.  The nature trails and existing Visitor Center will remain open to the public during construction. 


7. BEN Notes: Help Wanted: Enviro Jobs Available, Renew Our Rivers Schedule, Alabama Heritage Wild and Rural Art Show, Weeks Bay Native Plant Sale, Baldwin County League of Women Voters "Critical Water Issues", Alabama Wildlife Center "Creatures of the Night", Bays and Bayous Symposium,  Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Sweetwater Brewing Company "Save the Black Warrior River" 

Help Wanted: Enviro Jobs Available - There are several jobs available within the environmental community this fall.  Here are links to the latest listings:

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program Director Position Open -

Conservation Alabama hiring an Outreach Director  -{B8BDE2CD-75C7-49F3-B613-2ABEBFB938E1}&DE={3FB4D8FE-4A5C-4372-8456-950FD47298F5}

Alabama Rivers Alliance seeking Program Director -

Coastal Wonders seeking Assistant Program Director -

Renew Our Rivers Schedule - Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers Program has enlisted  in 2008 more than 5000 volunteers picking up 750,000 pounds of trash. Here are the remaining cleanups in 2008 with contact info included:

October 10 - Locust Fork (Birmingport boat ramp and Plant Miller holding pond - Brandon Patrick, 205-288-4562;

October  20-22 - Smith Lake at the Smith Dam boat launch - Jim Beason 205-387-2654;

October 25 - Lake Mitchell (Coosa River) at Higgins Ferry Park, 8:00 am - Larry Waldron 205 987-7217 or Doug Martin, 205 755-0863;

Alabama Heritage Wild and Rural Art Show - Join with conservationists, hunters, anglers, farmers, artists and all lovers of nature for a creative celebration of the wild diversity of Alabama - October 11th, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM at the Blackwood Gallery in Springville, Alabama.  The event - Alabama Heritage Wild and Rural Art Show is sponsored by the Alabama Sierra Club's Sustainable Agriculture and Hunter/Angler Campaigns.

Weeks Bay Native Plant Sale - The 15th Annual Native Plant Sale at Weeks Bay is scheduled to be held at Safe Harbor (across from the Weeks Bay Reserve across Hwy 98) on October 10-12 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Baldwin County League of Women Voters "Critical Water Issues" - On October 23rd, 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM the League of Women Voters of Baldwin County will be holding a forum on "Critical Water Issues" at the Adult Activity Center, 260 Clubhouse Dr. in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Featured speaker - Dr. George Crozier.

Alabama Wildlife Center "Creatures of the Night" - The Alabama Wildlife Center will be holding an educational event featuring "things that go bump in the night."  The event will be held on October 25th 1:00 to 5:00 PM at the Alabama Wildlife Center in Oak Mountain State Park.  For details call Janet Byars at 205-663-7930 or visit  .

Bays and Bayous Symposium - The Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium will be held on October 28-29 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi.  For complete information and registration materials, visit

Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival - The Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Alabama Environmental Council will be hosting the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival on November 6th, 5:30PM at the McWane Center in Birmingham.  Visit  for details.

Sweetwater Brewing Company "Save the Black Warrior River" - Sweetwater Brewing Company has launched a campaign throughout October called "Save the Black Warrior" to help raise funds and awareness for the Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  As part of the campaign local bars and businesses in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham will be selling paper fish to their clientele for $1 to $5, as well as special edition t-shirts.  The Tuscaloosa kickoff event will be on October 16th at Jupiter Bar and Grill (visit  For complete month-long details about this creative campaign go to

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