A Few Words From the Chair
The weekend of October 4-6 in Guntersville State Park was informative, motivational, and beautiful for those of us who attended the annual Chapter gathering. We wish more of you could have been there. The view from the lodge over the lake was filled with intriguing cloud formations by day and stunning starry skies by night.
Our quarterly Chapter Executive Committee meeting followed. I will summarize some of the discussion and decisions from that meeting.
- Our membership in Alabama currently is 2,863.
- The Chapter will be sending a letter to the Public Services Commission (PSC) requesting that the hearing on the proposed pipeline through a number of Mobile Bay communities be moved from Montgomery to Mobile. They citizens who will be most impacted by a PSC decision should be allowed ready access to the hearing and should not be asked to travel to Montgomery.
- The Chapter will request Governor Bentley to approve funding for the purchase of a 112-acre parcel of pristine beachfront property on Fort Morgan Peninsula. This land is the last remaining stretch of shoreline in Alabama that has a healthy population of the beach mouse and other native critters, rows of dunes that provide protection for inland properties during storm surges, and the wild beauty of where seemingly endless water, sandy beaches, wind, and sky meet.
- The proposal to build a lodge and conference center complex on the beach at the Gulf State Park is on hold. In 2004, the former hotel and conference center located in the park was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. The site has remained without structures since then. Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill, funds became available under a program called the National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for restoration along Alabama's coast. We Sierrans have supported the use of these NRDA funds for rebuilding and restoring dunes and vegetation to protect and buffer the developed properties inland. We have opposed the rebuilding and/or expansion of commercial uses on this invaluable natural asset.
- The Coosa Valley group and Alabama Rivers Alliance are finalizing the agenda for the Water Symposium in Gadsden, November 15.
- A call for budget requests: Each January the ExCom considers requests for funding for environmentally related actions within our state. If your group will be undertaking an environmentally protective task ( a water pollution study, for example) or a special educational program or other worthy project and might need some extra funding, please submit in a request including "Who, what, why, and where" and how much to Margo Rebar (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Charlie Cohen (email@example.com).
- The next ExCom meeting is scheduled for January 11, 2014.
All Sierra Club members in Alabama will be receiving a letter in early November:
- Ballot for the election of four members to the State Executive Committee (check your mail!) (bios available here)
- Invitation to three events in association with the Water Symposium in Gadsden, hosted by Coosa Valley and the State Chapter
- Letter updating you on ongoing activities within the groups and state
Please be sure to vote and participate in your group's actions and activities. We are able to support good environmental protection measures and oppose destructive actions through your support. Please keep informed and engaged on behalf of the environment and our future world.
Chair, Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club
Pinhoti Challenge with the Cahaba Group
On Oct 19 the Cahaba Group took a Pinhoti Challenge hike on an 8.8 mile section between Coleman Lake and Burns trail head in section 10 of the Alabama Pinhoti trail. We had 20 people join us on this great day to be outdoors. The leaves had just started to change and we had cool weather to hike in. It was light rain on and off for the first few hours but that just made being in the woods that much better, listening to the drops fall on the crisp leaves.
The section we hiked starts out in the area known as the "woodpecker farm" which has been planted with long leaf pines to attract woodpeckers. We then transitioned to hardwood forest and hiked through Choccolocco Creek watershed and past the lakes and over the dam to the Choccolocco Creek shelter where some of our group stopped to sign the journal and take a photo. We finished up our hike and ended the day with a relaxing dinner in Oxford.
Don't miss the next outing! See them all here.
CHAPTER RECOGNIZES SOME OF OUR "EXTRA EFFORT" VOLUNTEERS
Each year at the annual retreat, the Chapter recognizes members who have contributed extra time and effort on behalf of the Sierra Club and its mission – to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.
Each of these members were given an award certificate (suitable for framing, as the expression goes!) and a reusable cup engraved with his or her name.
- 2013 Outdoor Leader of the Year award to Judy Burley in recognition of her positive approach whether as lead or sweep in getting us outdoors
- Environmental Defender for many a Year award to David Underhill in recognition of his dependability to speak and act for protecting our environment and our rights to clean water and air wherever and whenever the need arises
- 2013 Champion of the Year award to Desiree Kiplinger in recognition of her enthusiasm in introducing our youth to the wonders of the nature through her Tyke Hikes for children aged two to four years old
- 2013 People's Advocate of the Year to the staff at Alabama Rivers Alliance – Mitch Reid, Cindy Lowry, Katie Shaddix, and Adam Johnston – in recognition of their leadership, guidance, and knowledge they are so willing to share in support of every Alabamian's right to water
- Revitalization of Community Conservation Efforts for 2013 award to Tom Hutchings in recognition of his dedication to the state of our environment by taking flight-- he is a pilot for South Wings-- documenting the petrochemical pipeline proposals in Mobile as well as getting citizens involved in learning about and protesting tank farms and tar sands in the Bay area
- 2013 Sierran Supporter of the Year award to Hank Burch in recognition of his stewardship of the environment as manager of the Five Rivers Delta Resources Center where he provides education to the public and meeting space for non-profit groups
- 2013 Volunteer of the Year award to Doug Horacek in recognition of his readiness to help out whenever asked for whatever request, especially in preparation for the annual retreat
- 2013 Creative Art in Service to the Environment Award to Sassafrass, a singing duo of Jo Billups and Karen Savage, in recognition of their effectiveness in raising public awareness of environmental issues through their songs of protest and hope
- 2013 Outdoorsman of the Year award to Tom Burley in recognition of his knowledgeable and effective leader training
- Outdoor Leader awards to Rick Gates and Alan Greene for helping us experience and appreciate the great outdoors by leading hikes
BIRMINGHAM INNER CITY OUTING REPORT
by Margo Rebar
If only that Styrofoam cup hadn't been thrown out of the car …
If only that plastic bag hadn't been left at the picnic site ….
If only that person had remembered to put his shirt back on after swimming in the creek…
If only that piece of old carpet hadn't been dumped off the bridge …
If only that beer can had been put in the recycling bin instead of being thrown on the road side …
Then, our creeks would not be cluttered with unsightly litter,
Then, aquatic animals in our creeks would not be injured by the contamination,
Then, trees along the banks of the creek would not be "decorated" with waving plastic remnants,
Then, we volunteers would not need to spend hours picking up after someone else's carelessness,
Then, we would not need to conduct annual clean-up campaigns to remove bags of trash from our creeks.
Thank goodness there are people who are willing to collect the debris accumulated in and around our waterways. On a fine Saturday morning in late September, I took a small group of youths out to Shades Creek as part of the Sierra Club Inner City Outings program. Seldom have I seen such determination to be absolutely thorough in removing plastic bags, bottles, cans, clothing, carpet pieces, tarps, abandoned garden tools, and other debris from the stretch of the creek assigned to us as part of a much larger volunteer effort that morning.
After three hours and ten trash bags of effort, I suggested it was time to stop collecting trash and simply to walk in the water watching crayfish, minnows, and the beauty of the setting (minus the plastic bags). However, there always was one more piece to remove – yet another shirt, then a belt, and then pieces of wire screening, and golf balls, and more.
After lunch, when I asked the youngsters what they wished to do, they responded "let's go back to the creek!" This time, we went to an area more removed from human litter and spent another three hours exploring the diversity and beauty of natural areas.