Cahaba Wildlife Refuge Expansion Proposal
For those of you unable to attend the public meeting concerning the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge expansion proposal I would like to sum it up for you.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “We have NO plans to use enema domain.”
Citizens: “You are full of crap.”
This in a nutshell was the meeting for three solid hours.
The USFWS did acknowledge that they had the power of eminent domain. If they had not acknowledged this it would have left them open to accusations that they were hiding this fact.
They clearly stated that they had no intention of using eminent domain in the wildlife refuge expansion proposal. This power of eminent domain is granted by the constitution of the United States of America.
Exactly who has this power of eminent domain? The City of Brent has it, as does the City of Centreville, Bibb County, and the State of Alabama. I’m curious to know if the citizens opposing the refuge expansion are going to hold rallies opposing the four laning of Hwy 5, a project that will take land from adjacent landowners whether willing sellers or not just so we can drive faster.
Likewise are they going to hold rallies opposing the use of eminent domain for the Hwy 82 bypass around Centreville should one landowner be in opposition to that?
Now I do want to make it clear I feel that the USFWS should only purchase land from willing sellers.
I would like to address some of the points the opposition made.
1. This is going to lock up land. I disagree with this. This is going to open up land.
Currently the refuge is 3,500 acres. You can go to the refuge and participate in: fishing, hunting, hiking, picnicking, swimming, bird watching, nature photography, and many other ways to experience and enjoy nature. Wouldn’t it be great if this opened up 100,000 acres for you to explore?
To understand the economic benefits of having more land open for public use all you have to do is look at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Without the draw of 6 million people to this park yearly, do you think Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville would be what they are now?
Also has anyone researched the economic impact of hunting? Hunting is in the top three of economic drivers in Alabama. Anyone that hunts knows of the thousands of dollars spent hunting every year. If we don’t ensure public places to hunt we won’t need Woods & Waters, Academy Sports, Bass Pro, etc. Public hunting lands help to protect our hunting heritage. What good is a right to own firearms and a right to hunt if we don’t preserve places to exercise them?
2. One gentleman pointed out the dangers to the river by all the development along the river in Jefferson and Shelby counties.
This is true, but we must remember that at one time the river through Jefferson and Shelby Counties was as undeveloped as it is now through Bibb and Perry Counties. Do we want to protect it now or wait until it is like Jefferson and Shelby County?
3. It is about the water.
Dale Peterson made remarks that the refuge expansion is about the water. I certainly hope so. Alabama certainly has too many waterways in which it is not safe to eat the fish. I like to eat fish. I like clean water. It is about time we try to protect water before it is polluted.
4. The state representative or state senator from Marshall County.
Do we need him trying to tell us what to do?
Was that political grandstanding?
In summary my point is that tourism to the refuge can bring in many dollars to our local economy.
It creates more places for recreation including public hunting.
If you are on the left of the political spectrum you should be for the refuge expansion.
If you are on the right of the political spectrum you should be for the refuge expansion.
It’s a win-win.
The liberal has a place to hug a tree.
The conservative has a place to shoot a squirrel out of a tree.
Thanks for your time and attention.