Sierra Club Outings
Made those resolutions yet? The New Year is here! Take a hike into the Little River Canyon, learn to find your way with an orienteering class, do some cold weather canoeing or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail, in the water or just out for a stroll down the street! more>>>
Help Look for Sick Bats This Winter
Have you ever seen bats flying around on warm summer nights, swooping around to catch a pesky mosquito? You probably have! Alabama is home to 16 different species of bats, and they help control a wide variety of pests that annoy people and farmers. But our bats may be in trouble. White Nose Syndrome, or WNS, is a deadly disease affecting bat populations in the eastern US and it may arrive in Alabama this winter.
We need your help to keep an eye out for sick bats, and report anything suspicious. What should you look for? We'd like to hear from you if you've seen any of the following:
- Bats that are dying or dead in groups of 5 or more
- Bats with a white fungus on their face or wings
- Missing or greatly-reduced summer bat colonies
You can visit the Alabama Bat Working Group's web page at http://alabamabatwg.wordpress.com to see pictures of what bats affected by WNS look like. If you see anything suspicious, don't touch the bats. Please take pictures of the bat(s) and make a note of the street address if you're in a city. If you're out hiking, try to get a GPS location, but if you can't, please try to be as specific about the area where you saw the bat(s). Then report the bat(s) to us.
Visit our web page and click the button titled Report a Bat. There, you'll find forms that you can fill out to provide more information about the suspicious bats, and an email address to send the report and pictures.
Also, let your friends, colleagues, scouting groups and church groups know about this effort. If the community can help wildlife biologists track WNS, it will be easier to figure out where the disease is moving, and learn more about it. Thank you for your help!
- Jennifer Pinkley - Alabama Bat Working Group
This film was produced in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act and the citizens and allies of GASP, whose efforts forty years ago paved the way for cleaner, healthier communities in Birmingham, Alabama.
While our air quality is significantly better than it was 40 years ago, the citizens of the greater Birmingham area still suffer from unhealthy air.
A new grassroots group committed to improving air quality in the greater Birmingham area has adopted the name GASP, giving a rebirth to the spirit and tenacity held by its original founders.
To learn more and get involved, please visit GASPgroup.org
Plug-In-Alabama Readiness Kick-Off
On December 1, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition (ACFC) presented, in Prattville, a workshop on electric vehicles. While the organizers and presenters admitted it will take time and a significant amount of effort to bring large numbers of electric vehicles to Alabama, they seemed optimistic it would happen. The ACFC press release that appeared after the workshop indicated "the event was held to formulate a plan of action to facilitate the successful introduction of Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs) in Alabama."
The somewhat more than 100 participants were able to actually kick the tires of an up-scale all-electric Tesla Roadster (from Tesla Motors) and Chevrolet's gasoline assisted Volt. Although not physically present, Nissan's Leaf was described by a representative, who reported the Leaf is to be available in Alabama in April, 2011.
Participants were told to expect 47 models of electric vehicles to be available to U.S. consumers in the next couple of years.
Mark Bentley, Executive Director of ACFC stated: “It is a reality that electric vehicles are headed for Alabama, and they will be coming fast. In order to respond to the influx of EVs, . . . the state must have a plan of action in place. . . . The two most important ways that we can address that influx is to lay out a plan that will increase access to public EV chargers, and create a mechanism that will streamline the inspection and permit processes for EV owners who wish to install advanced EV chargers in their homes or businesses.”
The major stated advantages of EVs were improved national security, because of reduced dependence on foreign oil, and also the favorable cost advantage of electricity when compared to gasoline. Global warming was barely mentioned.
The sponsors and partners for the event were Alabama Power Company, TVA, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Alabama Municipal Electric Authority, Nissan North America, General Motors, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Submitted by David Newton
Sierra Club's State Lobbyists Meet
Focusing on state conservation/environmental issues, the annual meeting of the Sierra Club's state level lobbying "corps" was held December 8-10 in Santa Fe, with almost all of the states represented by Club employees, contract lobbyists, and/or volunteers. Topics addressed by knowledgeable presenters were mostly related to energy, i.e., the role of the states in climate change, utility finance, distributed generation of solar power, offshore wind, nuclear power, national political trends, shale gas extraction/hydro-fracturing, electric vehicles, transportation, extended producer responsibility in waste disposal/recycling, and biofuels.
According to Executive Director Michael Brune and National Political Director Cathy Duvall, the lack of significant action on energy policy by the U.S. Congress, has resulted in increased interest in political action, e.g., lobbying, at the state level. (The Alabama Chapter is represented in Montgomery by Conservation Alabama.) One example of a very significant state-level success is the recent defeat, in California, of Proposition 23, which would have suspended California's landmark climate change law.
With help from others across the nation, such lobbying programs are organized by former lobbyist Paula Carrell, Director of State Programs, in the Club's San Francisco headquarters.
Alabama members who want more information on energy should visit the Club's website at http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/. Also, you may contact David Newton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your USPS address and telephone number.
Submitted by David Newton
A Recent Pinhoti Challenge Hike
photo courtesy Kim Waites
News from Conservation Alabama
Alabama ranks 42nd on emissions
A report released by Smart Growth America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and locally by the Conservation Alabama Foundation targeted the country's inadequate transportation policies related to the environment. The report, entitled "Getting Back on Track: Climate Change and State Transportation Policy" ranked Alabama overall 42nd in the country for transportation policies that address climate change. With nearly 32 percent of carbon emissions being generated by the transportation sector nationally, states and the federal government need to focus more on walking and biking trails, complete streets policies, greater investment in transit, and reducing vehicle miles traveled. The release of this report is just one step in the Conservation Alabama Foundation's focus on transportation and smart growth in the coming year.
Voters reject Amendment 3
Despite the backing of powerful interests in the state, the $1 billion for roads plan was soundly defeated by the voters, 57 percent to 43 percent. Citizens saw that there were no guarantees that the worst roads would be fixed first; that transit funding was only given a cursory contribution; and funding for Forever Wild would be cut. Conservation Alabama consistently opposed this proposal because of the aforementioned problems with Amendment 3. However, we want to work with all interested parties to fix the worst roads and bridges before building anew, fund transit adequately to move citizens and goods around the state, and to continue Forever Wild at full funding level.
Hagood stepping down from ADEM
John Hagood, the general counsel at ADEM for nearly six years, has announced he will be leaving the agency to join the private sector. While disagreements between environmentalists, agency staff, and the regulated community could get heated at times, Hagood always kept his sense of humor with his home-spun metaphors. Over the years, John has brought a new civility to the discourse between the regulated community, the regulators, and the advocates. As a sign of his sense of humor and goodwill, John presented Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper Mike Mullen and Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen with the "Golden Horse's Ass" for environmental advocacy award. Best wishes Mr. Hagood - you will be missed.
AHTS 10th Annual Conference in Huntsville
The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will be holding a conference in Huntsville at the Monte Sano Lodge the weekend of February 25-27, 2011. Mark the date on your calendar now. The theme of the conference will be Building Trails to Our Past and the Future. There will be three tracks of speakers, presentations, hands-on demos, hikes, entertainment, food, prizes and a special key note speaker.
More details will be available later at conference.hikealabama.org
The Alabama Hiking Trail Society and its members are dedicated to planning, building, and maintaining safe hiking trails for all to enjoy and educating the public of the careful use and enjoyment of Alabama's great outdoors.