Alabama Chapter Recent Messages
(Take Action: Mail a version of the letters below and substitute YOUR NAME!)
Letter to the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group
I am writing to you on behalf of the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club, with approximately 2500 members. All residents of the state are stakeholders who should have access to safe, affordable, and reliable water for personal use, and for recreational opportunities in clean, unpolluted natural waterways. As a major environmental organization in Alabama, we are dedicated to the protection and conservation of our diverse natural areas in the state, including our abundant rivers, streams, and lakes. We are pleased that your agencies are now developing a water management plan for the state. As you know, Alabama is blessed with an abundance of water, but our water supplies are not unlimited. We wish to voice our support for producing a water management plan and also provide comments as to important issues that need to be addressed in the plan.
A major priority should be to maintain natural flows in our rivers and streams in order to protect populations of our diverse aquatic fauna. Our abundance of water also contributes to a rich biodiversity, among the richest in North America. Of the 50 states of the U.S., Alabama ranks fifth for biodiversity (behind four much larger western states - California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico). The greatest diversity is associated with our aquatic habitats.
Maintaining natural flows in our waterways is necessary to prevent further loss of our biological diversity. Alabama leads the nation in number of species of several aquatic groups. Alabama and Tennessee have traditionally competed for top ranking for number of freshwater fish species, but Alabama is the unchallenged leader (with more than 330 species) if the many marine and estuarine species that move up into freshwater rivers are included. In addition, Alabama has more species of aquatic turtles (23), mussels (190), snails (195), crayfish (77), and caddisflies (342) than any other state. Many other invertebrate groups and some habitats (such as the numerous cave systems) have never been adequately studied but also contribute to our aquatic diversity. (read more)
Letter to the U.S. Forest Service Regarding Fracking in the Talladega National Forest
The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club requests that the U. S. Forest Service immediately withdraw its proposal to allow lease sale of 43,000 acres in the Talladega National Forest. We have reached this decision because of the arbitrary basis on which these areas were selected and the overwhelmingly negative impacts oil and gas exploration would have on the environment and the State's economy.
It has come to our attention that the selections were neither industry-driven nor based on science. You admitted, in an interview captured on video at a public meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, that you alone chose the areas included in the proposed lease sale (map attached) without consultation with geology experts. Kemba Anderson-Artis with the Bureau of Land Management confirmed your statement. In the same video, Dr. David E. Bolin, deputy director of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama, explained that virtually all of the areas outlined in the maps are underlain with igneous and metamorphic rock with no potential for oil and gas production. (read more)
ALABAMA YOUTH IN ACTION
by Mallory Flowers, UAB
About the author: Mallory Flowers was recognized by the Alabama Chapter as the 2012 "Student Activist of the Year." She became a member of Sierra Club just a few years ago when another student encouraged her to attend a SPROG training program. And here is her story…..
Here's a little more about what youth in Alabama are up to these days!
As a senior this year at UA, it's incredible to see the sudden flurry of environmental action pop up all around us here in Sweet Home Alabama. When I first arrived, there was little organized function among student groups, but look how far we've come! From community education and engagement, to hard-hitting campaigns that win, young people in Alabama are showing that the environment is something not forgotten, and that they're willing to go to great lengths (and in some cases, literally astounding distances) to explore, enjoy, and protect our natural surroundings. Here are some of the highlights:
Shepherds Bend: Proposed strip mining along the Black Warrior River has gone from presumed act to controversial thought thanks to ongoing efforts by our statewide network of like-minded students, the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment (CASE). We've rallied behind a common cause, defending citizens and the environment at the same time, and combined forces to enhance each campus' member base, skill repertoire, and momentum to be forces of change. The jury is still out to see if the mine will go forward, but already we have changed the way that many view the destructive mining practice and its potential impacts on nature and human life.
SPROG: The Sierra Student Coalition put on yet another successful Summer PROGram, training, networking, and empowering young people from across the Southeast for the third year in a row. Thanks to support from the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club students were able to attend for an affordable price. Alabama SPROG 2010 was the birthplace of CASE, and the program has developed leaders for Alabama and beyond ever since.
SIP: CASE is celebrating victory on several campuses as we push Sustainable Investment Programs, or Green Funds, for our campuses' long-term environmental friendliness. UA, Auburn, and Montevallo have seen success in getting long-term funding options for environmental sustainability.
COP18: Two Alabama students represented the Deep South at this year's UN Framework Convention on Climate Change! Jackson Wilke, a Maryland native and recent transfer to UA, joined me and 12 other Sierra Student Coalition members from across the nation to push our nation's negotiators towards a binding, just, and universal climate deal strong enough to tackle the challenges we will face in the coming years. We learned a lot, met people from all over the world, and got to see how environmental issues are handled at the global scale!
More: We continue to make efforts towards sustainability across many realms -- setting up bike shares, advocating local and organic food, and connecting like-minded people all over the state to help each other keep up the hard work! We're looking forward to another year of progress in the fight for clean air, water, and land.