Monday, November 30, 2009

BEN Thanksgiving Special 2009 : Inspirational Passages & Holiday Appeal

Janisse Ray & BEN Publisher Pat Byington

Dear BEN Readers:

I want to thank you for your readership and your support for Alabama's environment. Please make

sure to read the special "Thankgiving Passages" (this from Alabamians Rep. John Lewis, Chuck Leavell (pianist for the Rolling Stones) and Janisse Ray) after our annual Holiday appeal supporting BEN charities.

Today is Cyber Monday (description here - ), and in the spirit of making gifts during e-commerce's "Black Friday" the Bama Environmental News (, asks it’s readers and friends to make tax-deductible contributions to the following BEN's charities this holiday season:

The Wilderness Society -

Southern Environmental Center-

Visit our donations webpage at for details about our three additional charities:

Sheffield High School Foundation – Environmental Public Service Scholarship

Camp McDowell – Byington Scholarship

University of Washington – Rose Scholarship

As you can see on the BEN donation page, these charities each have a special connection to me and my family. For over 10 years, we have asked people to contribute to the BEN charities in lieu of a BEN subscription. We have raised over $10,000 from 1998 to 2008. Please consider giving to one of these very special organizations.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington

BEN Publisher

Thanksgiving Passages 2009

"... Praise Thee, wondrous God for the blessed watershed that is Alabama, pliant to man's needs, gracious to his questing spirit. May her sons and daughters not forget Thy bounty, nor fail to deserve Thy benediction through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

From the state of Alabama Prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.


Walking through fields smelling the wildflowers, touching the ancient oaks, poplars and pines, I learned wonder. Drinking from a fresh water spring, I learned purity. Fishing with a simple cane pole, I learned contemplation and patience. Feeling the dirt and pine straw between my toes, I learned the wilderness is part of me - I cannot and never will seperate myself from its beauty and peacefulness...

Part of the problem we have in our society, particularly in urban centers, is that we don't lose ourselves to what is natural. In our rush to progress technologically and to grow economically, we sometimes forget about the things that give people a sense of fulfillment and happiness. People have busy lives and difficult priorities- raising families, educationg their children, trying hard to get ahead. But it shouldn't be an either/or choice when it comes to protecting wilderness. We must be willing to move beyond our selves and our problems and consider the larger impact of our actions and legacy we leave for our children. If we don't, we will lose part of our humanity we can't replace...

- Alabama native and civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis commenting in the The Wilderness Society publication, "Why Wilderness: What the Last Remaining Wild Lands of the Southern Appalachians mean to the People of the Southeast."


"Trees are like music. It's fun and soothes the soul to play an instrument alone and express oneself. Many an hour, I've poured out my emotions on the piano instead of on a psychiatrist's couch. But it's a lot of fun to share the tune, to take the sounds from others--to be surprised by the richness of each other's sound-- muscial heritages blending together, if you will. Each instrument so different, but all so important to the song.

... Each tree-- each forest -- has its own song and we must listen. And while we are listening and unraveling the mysteries and gifts of the trees, we should always take a monent to sit under a tree, look up and be thankful."

--Chuck Leavell, Alabama native, conservationist and pianist for the Rolling Stones.


Let us put our minds together and give thanks

for the life we've been given,

for the chance to dream and wake and go out

among the meadow beauty, raising its many

velvet faces toward the sun.

For the cypress standing in sleepy congregations

like cloaked women in prayer.

For cubbyholes and cavities, grass beds and hollow

tupelos, for branch forks and underbanks.

For the open throats of pitcher plants

singing like bog frogs in the dusk.

For wild persimmon and huckleberry and hickory nut,

cattail and Ogeechee lime.

For reefs of flowers sweetly exhaling.

For beakers of rain poured liberally

from an archangel sky, the alchemy of rivers and bogs.

And thank the lightning that sparks heaven's love for earth,

conductor of fire.

Let us put our minds together and give thabks

for all the two leggeds and four-leggeds and six-leggeds,

the many leggeds and the no-leggeds,

near to far.

Let us especially thank the two who gave us life.

And thank Mother Earth, Elder Brother Sun,

Grandmother Moon, Sister Star, Families, Safe Journeys.

Let us put our minds together and give thanks.

-Poem by Janisse Ray, From Pinhook, Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bama Environmental News - #328


New York Times Features Alabama's War on Cogongrass - In September, the New York Times featured a story on state of Alabama's "war on cogongrass" an invasive weed that threatens forestry and agriculture in the state. Check out the story here

Forever Wild and Wildlife Management Areas - For people who care about wildlife management areas and public hunting lands, the latest edition has some interesting figures about Forever Wild and WMA's. Here is an excerpt:

"Since 1992, Forever Wild has secured 183,603 acres of public hunting lands that are part of the Alabama WMA system. These lands are distributed within 13 WMA's in 12 counties."

Some of the Forever Wild WMA's include:

Barbour WMA (26% owned by Forever WIld)

Cahaba WMA - (79% owned by Forever WIld)

Coosa WMA - (26% owned by Forever Wild)

Crow Creek WMA (8% owned by Forever Wild)

Freedom Hills WMA (75% owned by Forever Wild)

Laudedale WMA (31% owned by Forever Wild)

Lowndes WMA (15% owned by Forever WIld)

Mobile-Tensaw Delta & W.L. Holland WMA (11% owned by Forever Wild)

Mulberry Fork WMA (100% owned by Forever Wild)

Perdido River WMA (100% owned by Forever Wild)

Riverton WMA (100% owned by Forever Wild)

Skyline (James D. Martin) WMA (39% owned by Forever Wild)

Upper Delta WMA (100% owned by Forever Wild)

Recycling Grants - ADEM & Governor Riley have awarded eight recycling grants totaling $1.1 million.

Perry County Coal Ash Landfill Challenged - Environmental attorney David Ludder has filed suit to halt the coal ash shipments to Perry County.

A Tagged Manatee Named BAMA - Here is a great Mobile Register story about Alabama's first "tagged" manatee and the new Mobile Manatees Sighting Network program at Dauphin Island.


ADEM Nonpoint Conference - January 20th in Montgomery - Details -

Alabama Rivers Alliance Watershed Leadership Conference

EEAA Conference

Christmas/Holiday Gift Ideas

Weeks Bay Foundation -

Alabama Wildlife Federation -

Alabama Coastal Foundation -

Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama -

Black Warrior Riverkeepers -

Higher Ground Roasters -

Legacy -

Department of Conservation -

Alabama Museum of Natural History


Leading Scientific Organizations Position on Climate Change Letter

Monday, November 02, 2009

BEN - November 2, 2009 #327


Good news for Land Conservation in Alabama. Last week, Congress passed the Interior Appropriations bill appropriating $2 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to expand the Little River Canyon National Preserve and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. An additional $640,000 was appropriated for the Cumberland Mountains Forest Legacy project in Jackson County.

Forever Wild saves more than 61,000 acres in Metro Birmingham's "Backyard." Last week, Forever Wild announced that they had closed a deal to protect more than 61,000 acres of Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Lands in Bibb, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Shelby counties for the next 93 years. The agreement will preserve the public hunting, fishing, hiking and recreational rights within an hour's drive of nearly a quarter of Alabama's population. Details about this monumental conservation agreement can be found at: Bham News - Mike Bolton's Column -

Ducks Unlimited - Fundraising and Protecting Land. In the next few weeks, Ducks Unlimited will be holding fundraising events/banquets across Alabama. These efforts have resulted in the protection of 18,726 acres of waterfowl habitat statewide. The events starts this Tuesday. Check out the event in neighborhood at

Energy Efficient Buildings Save Money. Here is a great story from the "Auburn Sustainability" website about the Gorrie Center, a new LEED Gold Certified building on campus. According to the story, the Gorrie Center uses 59.8% of the average amount of electricity when compared to nine similar-use building on the Auburn University campus. The building can also save more than $400,000 in electricity costs a year. For more details:

ADEM & ALDOT Team Up. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Alabama Department of Transportation have been awarded a grant to retrofit approximately 184 diesel vehicles to reduce particulate pollution. To learn more:

More than 5000 houses will be weatherized in Alabama over the next 2 years saving money and energy. Check out how some Alabama Power Service Organization volunteers are helping out in Montgomery -

BEN Notes:


Birmingham Audubon Mini-Grants - The deadline for the Birmingham Audubon Society's Mini-Grant program is fast approaching. Visit for details


Nabeel's Cafe in Homewood (1706 Oxmoor Rd.) is donating 10% of their sales to the Cahaba River Society on November 4th. Make sure to mention your support of CRS when you checkout.

Moss Rock Festival - November 7th & 8th, Hoover, Alabama -

Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama - 09 Autumn Ramble Guided Hike Schedule-

Lecture Series - "Dauphin Island, Alabama: America's Birdiest City and Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries" - November 10th, 7:00, 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center

Cahaba River Huckraiser - an Ultimate Frisbee Hat Tournament - November 14th, 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM, at George Ward Park in Birmingham - Details call 32-CLEAN

6th Annual Alabama Renewable Energy Conference, November 17-18 at Auburn University -

ARTSCAPE an Event will benefit the Freshwater Land Trust - November 19, 6:30-9:00pm - Details: call the Land Trust at 205-226-7900.

Technical Knockout will be holding an e-cycle event on November 21st, 9am to 4pm at Whole Foods in Birmingham.

Alabama Scores LWCF Victory

Good news for Land Conservation in Alabama. Last week, Congress passed the Interior Appropriations bill bringing in $2 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to expand the Little River Canyon National Preserve and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. An additional $640,000 was appropriated for the Cumberland Mountains Forest Legacy project in Jackson County.