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Note: Contributions, gifts, and dues to the Sierra Club-Alabama Chapter are not tax deductible. They support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts here in Alabama. Thank you in advance for supporting the Sierra Club's conservation programs in Alabama.



Many thanks to Margo Rebar, Roe Hyche, Bob Hastings, and Peggie Griffin for agreeing to be the new newsletter committee. The newsletter is put together monthly, and material for the newsletter should be sent to, with a subject line of "For the Editorial Board" no later than the 15th of the month. Group newsletter editors may continue sending group meeting information and calendars of events to Joe Watts at, no later than the 25th of each month.

Guidelines for Material: The newsletter committee is seeking articles about Alabama environmental issues, articles highlighting Alabama’s special beautiful places, and engaging write-ups about group and chapter activities. Articles should be originally written for the Alabama Sierran, factual, and timely. A link to another publication should only be used rarely, but if a link is to be used, a full summary of the information (at least a paragraph long) should be written, with the link provided for more detailed information. The newsletter committee has the right to make any changes, so that material will meet these guidelines.

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No Tuesday Night Hikes Until Spring. Please note that there will be no Tuesday night hikes until the days get longer and we can return to Monte Sano.

from the North Alabama Sierra Club

Hike Leader Training

Have you been wanting to lead a hike for the Sierra Club? We could use you, regardless of your skill level and whether you like easy, moderate or strenuous hikes. Leaders are needed for the Tuesday night hikes and for dayhikes. Most of our new members come from participating in an outing. You must be a Sierra Club member to lead hikes. Your help would be appreciated in introducing people to hiking. This is an opportunity to share your favorite hike with others.

Hike Leader Training will be held Saturday, March 29 at 8:30am in Huntsville at the Huntsville/Madison County public library to certify new hike leaders to lead dayhikes and car camps. Basic Red Cross First Aid certification will be covered in the morning. Hike leadership, hike planning, and hiking etiquette will be covered during the remainder of the day. We have to pay a certification fee to the Red Cross so please do not sign up if you do not plan on leading outings. You will be asked to sign up as an assistant leader on one of the upcoming outings for your provisional hike.

Lunch will be provided.
We will also be offering CPR certification on Thursday, March 20 at 6:00pm at the library for those desiring to lead water outings (e.g., canoe trips and outings that involve swimming). Additional training to lead backpacks will be conducted for those that are interested. For more information on training sessions or becoming a hike leader, contact Tom Burley at or 256 883-4267.

Wilderness First Aid Training

The weekend of May 30th, the North Alabama Sierra Club is offering a comprehensive two and a half day first aid course that will teach you the wilderness medical skills you need to handle backcountry emergencies. From the Patient Assessment System through traumatic, medical, and environmental emergencies, we will cover a wide variety of topics designed to prepare you to act if an accident occurs when you are out on the trail.

This is a 20 hour course over two and one half days. The course begins at 6:00pm on Friday, May 30 with Adult CPR/AED certification. The class will resume at 8:00am Saturday and Sunday and runs through 5:00pm both days. There will be both classroom time and hands-on practice scenarios.

Practice scenarios may take place outside in various weather conditions; be prepared for inclement weather. Participants will have to pass both a written and a practical test. Red Cross CPR certification is a prerequisite for this course. Successful completion of this training results in an American Red Cross Wilderness & Remote First Aid certification valid for two years. The cost is $80 which includes both CPR/AED and WFA certification.

For applicants possessing a current Adult CPR/AED the cost is $60 and training will be Saturday and Sunday only. Proof of CPR/AED certification must be provided in advance. Lunch will be provided onsite each day. For further information contact Tom Burley at

Cahaba Group Works in 2013

The Cahaba Group had trail work time twice last year in 2013. We worked two weekends with the Alabama Hiking Trail Society (AHTS) on blowdown on a section of the Pinhoti between Coleman Lake trailhead and Burns trailhead and also between Cheaha trailhead and Adams Gap. We also scouted and marked a new trail for Ruffner Mountain with AHTS.


February 2014

A Few Words from the Chair

On a recent glorious winter Sunday afternoon, my husband and I walked in the woods of the newest outdoor recreational area in Birmingham – Red Mountain Park.   Even though these hills and hollows were cleared of trees and extensively mined for iron ore into the 1950's, the beauty of Alabama's natural areas expresses itself.  Thanks to the efforts of so many people who have worked tirelessly to establish protection for "wild" places, to build and maintain public trails, and to promote and lead hiking and exploring opportunities for everyone.  The groups within the Alabama Sierra Club are taking a lead whether it is night hikes in Huntsville, maintaining the Pinhoti Trail, canoeing in support of Alabama Rivers Day, visiting Noccalula Falls, or exploring the Gulf.  A special thanks to our outing leaders for taking us outdoors. 

In January, as the outcome of your votes, we installed two new members to our Executive Committee and continued the terms of two others, for a total of eight elected-at-large members.  One of the functions of the ExCom is to establish a budget for the year, at which time we consider requests for funding.  As approved at our January meeting, our 2014 budget approaches $58,000, assuming all items budgeted use all funds allocated (which is not always the case).

Where will the money go? 

  • Preparing the newsletter
  • Printing and mailing our annual ballot (each November) and March Appeal (coming next month to your mailbox!)
  • Travel to attend national Sierra Club trainings sessions and other conferences for members
  • Mobile Bay Coastal Clean-up (an ongoing massive, continuous effort ever since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill)
  • Hosting symposia in coordination with Alabama Rivers Alliance to educate stakeholders (you) about the need for and development of a comprehensive water plan for the state
  • Sponsoring college students to attend a Sierra Club program to train environmental activists (a big part of our future)
  • Supporting water festivals in various parts of the state (a full day of learning about our water resources for fourth graders)
  • Support for our annual all-members-invited  get-together (also known as our annual retreat)
  • Support for research on fishermen and pollution levels in fish in the Coosa River
  • Support for group activities:  educational programs, canoe trips for kids, earth day events, reusable bags, and other items

Check out what your local group is doing and take advantage of the educational, recreational, and volunteer service activities available through your membership in Sierra Club. 

Margo Rebar
Chair of the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club 

ICO Meets Turkey Creek and Adam

Adam with some of the ICO hikers and football players

The Birmingham Inner City Outings (ICO) program has been taking youth from various Birmingham organizations on trips into the woods and streams since 1997 following the Sierra Club mission:  explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. 

On a cool January Saturday, the ICO participants explored and enjoyed the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve (near Center Point) learning a little more about trees, water, each other, and the importance of preserving natural areas such as this beautiful stretch of the Turkey Creek and the surrounding wooded valleys and hills.

After a rigorous hike (rigorous for youth who are not used to being outdoors and hiking) and a pleasant picnic lunch on the banks of Turkey Creek, the group traveled to a park in Center Point.  Any weariness from the hike quickly disappeared as teams were selected, boundaries set, and the two-hand touch football game began.  Adam Johnston captained one team, James the other, with rules evolving as the game progressed, ending when the score of the winning team reached 42 points. 

For the past twelve years, the ICO program has been led by Margo Rebar, and as much as she enjoys the role and children, it is now time to transfer the program to a younger, better pick-up football player than she.  So during the next few months, Adam Johnston will be "in training" to continue the program. 

Meet the ExCom

Our Chapter Board is composed of eight elected-at-large members and six Chapter Delegates (one from each group).  This ExCom meets four times a year to discuss the business of the Chapter which includes budgeting, supporting the groups, responding to environmental issues in the state, speaking out about our need for enforcement of the clean water and air regulations, and addressing other concerns so that future generations of Alabamians will live in a healthier environment.

ExCom: At-large members Bob Hastings,
Carol Adams-Davis, Adam Johnston, Charlie Cohen, Margo Rebar, Lucina Horner, Ken Hyche,
and David Norwood (not pictured)
Chapter Delegates: 
Roe Hyche, Dick Short, Peggie Hamner, and Peggie Griffin

From the Political Chair: Forest Service Proposes Closing Lake Chinnabee Campground to Overnight Camping

by Glynn Wilson--The Alabama Sierra Club is protesting the state leadership of the U.S. Forest Service with an official letter opposing a proposal to close the Lake Chinnabee Campground in the Talladega National Forest and only allow Day Use in one of the best, most beautiful primitive campgrounds in the state and the country.

The Locust ForkNews-Journal broke the story on the decision back in November after visiting the area one more time to obtain photographs and video footage of a campground the Forest Service says is not worth repairing and reopening after a 100-year flood event caused minor damage in May.

As a result of that visit — on a Saturday in the Autumn leaf color season when the Pinhoti 100 hiking racers were passing through and many families were visiting the area from Anniston, Oxford, Birmingham and other points north and south — the U.S. Forest Service issued a certified ticket to editor and publisher Glynn Wilson demanding $125 for “entering an area posted closed under a valid closure order,” even though there were also signs posted indicating “Walk-In Use Invited.”


North Alabama Members Sweep Chapter Awards

A number of members of the North Alabama group won awards at the state chapter. Congratulations to you! It was a difficult decision as all our leaders are outstanding, giving so much of their time and energy, but these members deserve special mention:

  • Doug Horacek - Volunteer of the Year
  • Tom Burley - Outdoorsman of the Year
  • Judy Burley - Outdoor Leader of the Year
  • Alan Greene - Outdoor Leader of the Year
  • Rick Gates - Outdoor Leader of the Year
  • Desiree Kiplinger - Children's Programs

We’re lucky to have so many great leaders in our group!
- Sandy Kiplinger

Public Lecture: The Attacking Ocean: Rising Sea Levels, Sea Surges, & Humanity

Dr. Brian Faganm, Thursday February 6th.

The Archaeology Museum and Jaguar Productions at the University of South Alabama are pleased to welcome Dr. Brian Fagan, one of the world’s leading archaeological and historical writers, to campus on Thursday February 6th. Dr. Fagan will be delivering a free public lecture The Attacking Ocean: Rising Sea Levels, Sea Surges, and Humanity at Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, on USA’s main campus at 7:00 PM.

Brian Fagan was born in England and studied archaeology at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was Keeper of Prehistory at the Livingstone Museum, Zambia, from 1959-1965. During six years in Zambia and one in East Africa, he was deeply involved in fieldwork on multidisciplinary African history and in monuments conservation. He came to the United States in 1966 and was Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 1967 to 2003, when he became Emeritus.
This event is co-sponsored by the Mobile Bay Sierra Club. Be sure to come out and learn! (download the full announcement here)

The fight over an oil pipeline through the drinking water supply for Mobile, Alabama has landed in court.

Environmental groups are challenging a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Plains Southcap, LLC pipeline routed through the Big Creek Lake watershed.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Federal Court in Alabama's Southern District by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Mobile Baykeeper charges that the Corps’ authorization of the crude oil pipeline’s route threatens the safety of the local water supply.

If allowed to be finished -- no guarantee since it is still being debated by municipal authorities in Mobile -- the 41-mile-long pipeline could transport up to 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day (or 6.3 to 8.4 million gallons per day) of tar sands crude or other types of oil through the watershed of Big Creek Lake and Hamilton Creek, the primary drinking water source for a majority of Mobile County, as well as the cities of Mobile, Prichard, Semmes, Saraland, Chickasaw, Spanish Fort and other municipalities.

“The law requires that a project of this magnitude go through a more rigorous and appropriate evaluation,” said Keith Johnston, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s office in Birmingham. “A crude oil pipeline within close proximity of the drinking water supply is a major concern and must be considered by the Army Corps in its permitting process.”


Report from the Montgomery Sierra Club

The Montgomery Sierra Group has a history of community service and education. Each spring, 4000 fourth graders in Montgomery County are bussed to Auburn University Montgomery for classes on water preservation and conservation. The kids love it. Same thing is true in Autauga County for 875 fourth grade pupils there. They are bussed to Prattville for the same. Such programs require a lot of advanced planning and financial support. Fourth graders attend several 30 minute classes per day and rotate on to the next class.

Montgomery’s brightest “LAMP” high school students help teach those classes. Auburn’s staff spend months planning these events with precision. From a mere 200 student participants a dozen years ago, 27 classrooms are now required and must be scheduled when university classes are on break. Pupils learn to appreciate the importance of water cycles and conservation—values which are learned early in grammar school.


This program is a large one and requires a lot of work and money to make it so successful.

Sierra Club Outings

Get out there and enjoy a Sierra Club Outing! Pictured above, an outing of the West Alabama Group: a hike to the Sipsey Swamp on Nov. 2, 2013, led by Dexter Duren.

Winter is here--and it is cold! It's time to get out! Take a great hike. Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues!

Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll in the city! Great outings and meetings from North Alabama all the way to the Gulf! more>>>