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A Book of Interest

The Wave -- In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean
by Susan Casey
Doubleday, New York
352 pages (2010)

Really huge waves in the 100 foot range in the open ocean have long been reported, but often doubted.  To many, the physics did not support the development of such monsters.  With some well studied, but still puzzling disasters, such waves proved to be real.  However, they are rather rare, with the most powerful waves found near the poles, in the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, and the Southern Ocean.  (I can attest to the unsettling nature of the North Atlantic in the winter, with huge liquid "pyramids" seeming to threaten from every direction.)  Casey provides hair raising accounts of several ships in serious and sometimes fatal encounters.

The author interviewed big-wave scientists, who discussed, among other things, the physics of ocean waves, the intensity of storms, the prediction of waves, and the impact of climate change. Representatives of major insurance and salvage companies offered vivid descriptions ships in distress and lost -- along with some of the crews.  (For more about maritime disasters and other insurance matters, dating from 1688, the author suggests visiting the website of Lloyds of London at

A substantial amount of the book is devoted to big wave tow-surfers, who seek out and surf huge waves at many locations, globally.  Through several websites, e.g., Surfline, they are alerted to big waves in Baja California, California, Hawaii, South Africa, Tahiti, and other locations.  Without hesitation, many of them go, and risk life and limb for what is, to them, the ultimate exciting challenge.

Submitted by David Newton

Bear Creek to Flint River

Our scheduled Bear Creek paddle got cancelled due to bad weather. HOWEVER...equipped with my phone list, the trip roster, and an idea of who owned their own boats, we pulled together a Flint River paddle.

Putting in at Hwy.72, we paddled our way down to Little Cove Road. This section of the Flint is absolutely beautiful. There was a great-blue heron that kept up with us along the way and a little green heron that was cleverly trying to hide herself in the waterside bramble. A couple of downfalls and full-river strainers made paddling interesting but we managed to "pick" our way through the toolies and other by-passes to avoid any hard work. We stopped at Sublet Cave for a little exploration and then continued our journey.
For those of you who would like to be notified of these "A Moment's Notice" paddles," let me know and make sure I have your phone number (sorry no rentals are available for these).

FYI: Remember to always check your email the morning of a trip. I check the weather to make sure no serious storms are threatening the area where we are to paddle (
Debra Wonder, North Alabama Sierra Club

AlaRuck 2011

(not a Sierra Club sponsored event, but should be fun) Registration is now open for AlaRuck 2011, which will be held October 8-9 at the Open Pond Recreation Area, Conecuh National Forest. AlaRuck is a family friendly campout under the stars. It's a celebration of hiking and the outdoors, a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new, hike the trails at Conecuh, win prizes with the Camp Decoration Contest, and more. Admission is free and event is open to all.
There is a fee to camp at Open Pond-$6 primitive, $12 improved, payable at self-check in kiosk on arrival. Campers & RV's welcome.

Wildlands Are Your Lands

(from Michael Brune's "Coming Clean" blog) Woody Guthrie put it best when he sang, "This land is your land." Until, that is, someone steals it from you. And from the redwood forests to the New York island, that's exactly what could happen if we don't stop an extreme bill in Congress that would essentially turn over 50 million acres of publicly owned wildlands to oil, gas, and mining companies for drilling, mining, logging, road construction, and other destructive development.

Wilderness that represents the historical, geological, and ecological diversity of the United States, from iconic red rock canyons in Utah to ancient temperate rainforests in Alaska to scenic mountains in New Mexico, could be lost forever.

Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, this bill (H.R. 1581) would eliminate protection for wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas -- exactly the kind of healthy, undisturbed lands that provide and safeguard clean air and water resources, supply habitat for plants and animals, and offer Americans a place to get outdoors and kayak, camp, fish, or hike. That's one reason why people in the outdoor recreation industry -- which, by the way, supports nearly 6.5 million jobs and contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy -- are among the biggest opponents of this public lands giveaway.

No one deserves the gut punch of coming home to discover that they've been burglarized. But if this "Great American Giveaway" bill becomes law, then every single American will be the victim of a brazen theft that's just as heartless. Woody was right. It's your land. Not ExxonMobil's. Not Peabody Coal's. Not Koch Industries'. These lands are our lands. Tell your member of Congress that we need to keep it that way.

Michael Brune is the Sierra Club's executive director.




Fri.-Sun., Nov. 18-20, 2011

There are still rooms available. (HURRY! It is going to be great!)

@ Camp McDowell,
105 Delong Rd, Nauvoo, AL
hosted by the
West Alabama Sierra Group


  • Paulette Haywood Ogard & Sara Cunningham Bright - authors of Butterflies of Alabama
  • John & Rosa Hall - "Supposed Discoverer of Alabama/ Prince Madoc/ 1170"
  • Jim Lacefield - Cane Creek Canyon
  • Bill Hamner, Prof Emeritus, UCLA - Marine Biologist "From the Watershed to the Deadzone"
  • David Newton - Conservation Alabama -"The Political Climate for Alabama's Environment"

Visit the retreat web page here.

Alabama's Own Wins Award (and other Sierra Club Awards Announcements Below, too)

Environmental Alliance Award (recognizes individuals or groups that have forged partnerships with other non-Sierra Club entities): Carol Adams-Davis of Mobile, Ala. Adams-Davis has partnered with other environmental groups on a variety of environmental issues along the Gulf of Mexico, including recovery from the BP oil spill.

Two congressman and two people who have written extensively about global warming are among those receiving awards from the Sierra Club this year.

The Club's top award, the John Muir Award, is going to Bill McKibben, who has authored 13 books and founded the international organization McKibben's 1989 book, The End of Nature, is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been printed in more than 20 languages.

Elizabeth Kolbert, a former New York Times reporter who now writes for the New Yorker, is receiving the David R. Brower Award, which recognizes outstanding environmental reporting. Kolbert's 2006 book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, which was based on an award-winning three-part series for the New Yorker, is one of the most powerful commentaries to date on global climate shift.

Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts is receiving the club's Edgar Wayburn Award, which honors outstanding service to the environment by a person in government. Since being elected to Congress in 1976, Rep. Markey has been at the forefront of environmental campaigns, pressing for increased fuel efficiency standards for our cars and light trucks, defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from proposed oil drilling, pushing for tougher clean air standards, advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency proposals, and authoring legislation to tackle global warming.

Others receiving 2011 Sierra Club awards include the following:

read about the awards here.

Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers Release Comprehensive State of the Gulf Report

Released 10/4/2011, "The State of the Gulf: A Status Report from the Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers in the Wake of the BP Oil Disaster "

New Orleans, LA - October 4, 2011 - Save Our Gulf, a collaborative initiative of Waterkeeper Alliance, including the seven member organizations on the Gulf Coast (Galveston Baykeeper (TX), Atchafalaya Basinkeeper (LA), Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (LA), Louisiana Bayoukeeper (LA), Mobile Baykeeper (AL), Emerald Coastkeeper (FL) and Apalachicola Riverkeeper (FL)) today released "The State of the Gulf: A Status Report from the Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers in the Wake of the BP Oil Disaster". This report documents the progress, current conditions, actions of the Gulf Waterkeepers, and makes recommendations for restoration efforts after the Gulf Coast region experienced the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States, caused by the fatal blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Download the Complete Report at:

"The State of the Gulf - highlights the oil contamination found in the water, sediment, seafood, and sea life across the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the BP Spill. One troubling finding is that contamination in some seafood species may be increasing over time," said Renee Blanchard, Waterkeeper Alliance's Save Our Gulf Coordinator. "We are using this report to hold the oil industry and government accountable for a thorough Gulf Coast restoration."

Key Findings:

  • Long-term environmental monitoring is needed
  • The BP oil disaster is ongoing
  • This disaster affects both the nation and the Gulf Coast States
  • There is a critical need for Citizen participation in the restoration decision-making process
  • The growing public health concerns in Gulf Coast communities must be addressed
  • All Clean Water Act fines must be dedicated to Gulf Coast restoration
  • The Gulf Region must show leadership by rebuilding, recovering, and restoring sustainability

Topics & Discussions:

Citizen Monitoring; Results of Save Our Gulf's Sampling & the Examination of Government Sampling:
According to the testing results collected and analyzed by the Save Our Gulf Waterkeepers, the proclamation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the Gulf seafood was and continues to be safe for regular consumption may have been premature.

Health Concerns in the Communities:
Residents who live and work on the water, particularly people in fishing communities and the first responders to the BP oil disaster, are increasingly falling ill. They are being ignored by the BP Victim's Compensation Fund and denied health claims by Kenneth Feinberg and the GCCF. These victims are being dismissed and told to seek help elsewhere, without any referrals, suggestions, or support.

BP's Public Relations Machine:

The great disappearing oil trick: now you see it now you don't! Through a strategic and very expensive public relations campaign, BP has managed to magically convince much of the country into believing the oil is gone. The reality is the oil is not gone, and the long-term impacts are still largely unknown. Leading scientific studies demonstrate that three-fourths of the oil still lingers on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, creating an unprecedented and unknown new environmental reality for the Gulf Coast.

Where Do We Go from Here? Creating an Action Plan for Recovery & Preventing Future Spills:
After a short off-shore oil drilling moratorium, permits are being issued with no significant technological procedures adopted to prevent future spills of this magnitude from happening again. The BP oil disaster proved that the industry and the federal and state government agencies regulating and monitoring these permits were not, and are still NOT prepared for oil spills of National Significance. Lessons not learned are bound to happen again. Save Our Gulf believes that comprehensive long-term environmental monitoring will be essential to understanding, protecting, and restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem going forward.

Download the Complete Report at:

This Congress: Most Anti-Environmental Congress on Record

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled a new, searchable database of anti-environment votes by the 112th Congress. The database details the 125 votes taken to date by the House that undermine the protection of the environment.

"This is the most anti-environment House in history," said Rep. Waxman. "The House has voted to block action to address climate change, to stop actions to prevent air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and to weaken the protection of the environment in dozens of other ways."

The database offers details on each vote, including the bill or amendment number and sponsoring member, a brief summary of the bill or amendment, the vote outcome, and additional relevant information. The votes are searchable by bill number, topic, affected agency, and affected statute.

The full legislative database is available here.

Northern Beltline in Birmingham Final Public Hearing

Please attend the Sept 29th public hearing on the Northern Beltline. This is the second and final public hearing on the Environmental Review and it is important for all of us who care about the Cahaba River to attend and speak out on this issue.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011
Bessemer Civic Center
1130 9th Ave. SW
Bessemer, AL 35022

4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. Open House
5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Public Forum

Public comment time is limited to 2 minutes per speaker. Participants must sign in to speak and possibly for written comments to be given equal consideration. However, even if you cannot attend the hearing, please submit written comments.

The Northern Beltline would have the most profound impact on the Cahaba River of any proposed investment of your tax dollars. After years of urging from many environmental groups including CRS, ALDOT has released step one of an update to the original Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The EIS has never provided the community or ALDOT with the information needed to make decisions about this project. The original environmental review was incomplete - it did not consider the cumulative impacts of the Beltline as a whole or the indirect environmental impacts of the growth the road is designed to create, and it gave short shrift to protecting our drinking water source and the Cahaba's biodiversity and other values. This release from ALDOT invites public comment on the need for further environmental review.

CRS (Cahaba River Society) is still reviewing this extensive document to see whether the significant issues we have raised are addressed. We will provide our written comments to you before ALDOT's deadline for written comments, October 14. Although you do not have to attend a public hearing to submit written comments, we urge all our members to attend tonight's public hearing to learn more and share your views.

from Beth K. Stewart, Cahaba River Society

Written comments may be submitted by:
(1) completing comment sheets during the meeting
(2) e-mail:
(3) fax: 205-324-2560
(4) or mailing comments to:
Alabama Department of Transportation – Third Division
P. O. Box 2745
Birmingham, AL 35202-2745
Attn: Mrs. Sandra Bonner

If you haven't taken action yet, please contact: Director Lance LeFleur Alabama Department of Environmental Management 1400 Coliseum Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36110-2400 Phone: 334-271-7710 E-mail:

Oct 15. Jay Hudson Memorial Hike, Pinhoti Challenge dayhike

(pictured above: an old photo of a Pinhoti Challenge Hike with Jay) I think it would be a good idea to have a Pinhoti hike this fall in memory of our good friend, Jay Hudson. It would give us all an opportunity to walk the trail that he loved so much and remember him in the best way that I know - on the trail with his "hiking family" as Jay would often call the Sierra Club and Meetup group. here is the details to our hike that will carry on the hikes Jay started. we will take some time at the area close to the Al/Ga state line for anyone who cares to say a few words about Jay.

Pinhoti Challenge dayhike. This month, we'll be hiking a section of trail located in Section 13 of the Alabama Pinhoti between Salem Church Road near Piedmont and the Jackson Chapel trailhead in Georgia. This hike is in our Pinhoti Challenge series, and gains a rating of strenuous due to the elevation changes and rocky terrain. Along the 8 mile trek, we'll see a large beaver pond and several old iron ore mines, along with outstanding views from Indian Mountain, Flagpole Mountain, the Alabama/Georgia state line, the Alabama Trails Association shelter, and perfectly quiet fall woods. Make sure to bring a camera. Hiking boots a necessity, as well as plenty of water and a picnic lunch. There will be an optional dinner afterwards. Contact: ken hyche at or call 205-540-3930 for more info. We'll be meeting at 07:00 at the Cracker Barrel at hwy 280 and interstate 459, then at 08:00 at the Target in Oxford at exit 188 of interstate 20. The hike is about 8 miles with a fairly long shuttle setup. (from Kenneth Hyche)

Sierra Club Outings

Summer is coming to an end!! Go paddling with friends, 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 down the street! more>>>