Water Symposium and More This Month

And What Does It Mean for the Gadsden Area?

Dr. Bill Deutsch, Director, Alabama Water Watch
Thursday, November 14, 6:30 pm
Room 210, Joe Ford Center, Gadsden
Don’t miss this important kickoff for the Gadsden Water Symposium.
Dr. Deutsch’s presentation will include an interactive exercise about the roles of government, corporate/business interests, and civil society.
How do these roles affect Gadsden and our access to water?
Refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by the Coosa Valley Sierra Club.

Friday, November 15

Bevill Center, Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden
8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Lunch included

Hosted by Alabama Rivers Alliance and Coosa Valley group of the Alabama Sierra Club

Your access to water may not be as certain as you think is! Our current system of water distribution (called common law riparian rights) does not assure equitable distribution of water in our state.

This symposium is one of a series being held statewide to inform and engage citizens in the ongoing efforts to develop a comprehensive water management plan for our state. This symposium will place emphasis on interstate water usage – the Georgia “water wars.”

This is the final symposium before Governor Bentley’s December 1 deadline for the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group (AWAWG) members to submit their recommendations for water planning in Alabama. AWAWG members will be present at the symposium. All Alabama citizens, water users, and elected officials who want their voices heard in the development of a comprehensive water management plan should attend.

Please register with Alabama Rivers Alliance.
www.alabamarivers.org/events/ alabama-water-policy-symposia/

After-hours “FRIEND-RAISER”
Friday, November 15
Back Forty Brewery in Gadsden 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

We know it takes clean water to make great beer! Come meet and eat with some of Alabama’s clean water advocates. Join Alabama Rivers Alliance, Coosa Valley Sierra Group, Coosa Riverkeeper, and others as we promote healthy rivers and tasty beer. Local musicians, Jess Goggans of Fort Payne and One Eyed Mary from Pell City, will play and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be plentiful. $15 at the door ensures you’ll be a part of the fun!



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 plgriffin@comcast.net, 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 joe@joewatts.com, 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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Information Below is from last month, but is still very important to read!

Will 2013 be the last sighting of ICO in Alabama?

The Birmingham Inner City Outings program is endangered.  This Sierra Club sponsored program has been taking youth from the YWCA-Interfaith Hospitality House and other Birmingham neighborhoods into the outdoors on hikes and visits to natural areas since 1997.  However, the current leadership is in dire straits as several of its most active members will move out of the state in 2014.  We need volunteers who can devote a Saturday a month (or every other month) to introducing our inner city youth to the great outdoors.  Without new leaders, the program will go extinct within the year.  Are you willing and able to help?  Contact Margo Rebar at msrebar@gmail.com or (205) 970-6500.

These kids need you!  They love to go outdoors to explore and have few opportunities to do so.  You can make a difference. 

We Need You to Volunteer

Have you been on many Sierra Club hikes this year, attended some Thursday night meetings or come to one of the picnics, the Sierra Club booth at Green U or Earth Day? If so, have you stopped to think about who makes all of this happen?

The local Sierra Club is an all-volunteer group and it takes a lot of people to keep all of these activities going for you. And we need your help. Every year Excom members roll off and new members take their place. There is probably something you could do. If you would like to give back, take a look at the list of officers and consider running for a position on the committee. It does not require a lot of time and the work is not difficult.

Please think about it, and if you would like to volunteer your time and run for an Excom position (we don’t get a lot of volunteers so you are virtually guaranteed to win), please contact Sandy Kiplinger at sandykip@juno.com (from the North Alabama Sierra Club)


December 2013

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.
  • 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 (msrebar@gmail.com) and Charlie Cohen  (charlie.cohen@att.net).
  • The next ExCom meeting is scheduled for January 11, 2014.

All Sierra Club members in Alabama will be receiving a letter in early November:

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.

Margo Rebar
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.


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


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.

Sierra Club Outings

Fall is here and winter is on the way. 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>>>