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Note: Contributions, gifts, and dues to the Sierra Club-Alabama Chapter are not tax deductible. They support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts here in Alabama. Thank you in advance for supporting the Sierra Club's conservation programs in Alabama.


The Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge

September 2014 — September 2015
Do you have what it takes to complete the Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge? Presented byThe Wilderness Society and Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, this challenge is a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act, discover new places or revisit favorites, and have the chance to win prizes! (see the Cahaba Group's hike taking part in this challenge next month!)


Wild and Scenic Film Festival

The Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Environmental Council in conjunction with Green Coalition would like to invite you to join us in sponsoring the 2nd showing in Huntsville of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the largest environmental film festival in North America. The award-winning films, combining beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling, inform, inspire, and ignite solutions to restore the earth while creating a positive future for the next generation.
This event will take place on the evening of November 7, at the Flying Monkey Arts Center at Lowe Mill.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), in 2003. Over the past 10 years it has evolved into the largest environmental film festival in the nation. The annual event each January in Nevada City, CA, kicks-off the nationwide tour to over 100 cities. Each tour venue is an opportunity for an organization to reach out into their community and bring people together around community based activism. A diverse menu of environmental films delve into themes such as energy, climate change, conservation, wildlife, community activism, environmental justice, and adventure. Each venue custom builds their own film program to include issues they want to spotlight in their area.


Tell President Obama to protect our climate from methane

Methane -- it's the greenhouse gas that flies under the radar. But pound for pound, methane is 86 times more potent over a twenty-year period than carbon dioxide. As the oil and gas industry pushes to frack more, President Obama needs to come up with a plan for cutting this dangerous greenhouse gas.

Since we can't turn back the clock when it comes to climate change, we must act now. President Obama and his administration can ensure the protection of our climate and our communities by taking an important first step -- regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Tell President Obama and his administration to step up, cut methane, and help us move towards a future where our homes, schools, and businesses are powered with clean energy.

Complete the form at this link with your information.

Personalize your message if you wish.
Click the Send Your Message button to send your message to:
President Barack Obama
Secretary Sarah 'Sally' Jewell
Ms. Regina 'Gina' A. McCarthy


LOCAL HONORS to Mississippi Sierra Club

Congrats to Sierra Club Mississippi and their lead attorney Robert Wiygul! They are being honored by the Mississippi NAACP at its annual 2014 Freedom Fund Banquet later this month for their work on fighting coal in the state. (from Sierra Club's Hitched newsletter)


PLEASE NOTE!

PROCEDURE FOR SENDING MATERIAL TO THE ALABAMA SIERRAN

Many thanks to Roe Hyche, Bob Hastings, Lucina Horner, 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:

Join the Alabama Chapter on facebook! (just click the logo below to join the group page)

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November 2014

The Mobile Bay Sierra Club is pleased to host the screening of The Southern Environmental Law Center Film Series, Southern Exposure!

When: Tuesday evening, November 4th at 7:00 p.m.
Please don't miss these powerful documentaries!
Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m.
Please forward this invitation to any interested people or groups.
Where: 5 Rivers, Tensaw Theater, Please follow the Sierra Club signs.
(The General Public is invited, No Admission)
Location address: 5 Rivers, Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, 30945 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort, AL 36527 (entrance is across from Meaher State Park on the Mobile Bay Causeway).
For more information, please contact Carol Adams-Davis, 702-496-5050 or email: mcadamsdavis@earthlink.net

Invasive in Alabama Directed by MINDY KEELEY. Feral hogs first arrived in Alabama in the 1500s with Spanish settlers. In the past 20 years, the feral hog population has increased dramatically, resulting in serious environmental damage to farms and wilderness areas. This film explores the problems caused by invasive species through the eyes of those trying to curb the growing feral hog population in northern Alabama.

In Deep Water Directed by ZOE GIERINGER. Despite being one of the most water-rich states in America and unlike neighboring states with plans in place, Alabama lacks a water management plan. Unregulated water withdrawal, population increases, economic development, and agricultural demands put stress on our water resources that becomes more apparent during droughts. Follow the Coosa River downstream to discover the competing uses of this precious resource and how Alabama can protect its waters for the future.

Paradise or Profit Directed by CHRIS JONES. For the first time in Alabama, an outside industry is attempting to strip-mine and process the tar sands of northern Alabama to extract oil-rich bitumen. How will the environmental consequences of mining and processing tar sands potentially impact the community of Colbert County and its concerned citizens in the movement to preserve their water, air, and local agricultural economy?

In Our Nature Directed by JOHANNA OBENDA. Explore Alabama’s environment through the eyes of its young, future environmentalists at Camp McDowell, a non-profit educational organization with a mission to connect young people to their environment and promote commitment to lifelong learning.
Down the Drain Directed by CARLOS ESTRADA The public is well-aware that a failed sewage system left Jefferson County in debt and eventually bankrupt; however, sewage problems still exist throughout the state. The small community of Uniontown, a town extremely affected by failed sewage infrastructure, shows what is at stake and why these problems must be addressed.

The Accidental Environmentalist Directed by KRISTINE STOLAKIS. John Wathen was just an average guy until coming into contact with toxic chemicals, stumbling upon a video camera, and discovering his passion for protecting the region’s waters. Watch this Alabama native’s transformation into an internationally-recognized environmentalist.


Scot Duncan Speaks at Annual Retreat:

We'll have a full breakdown of the Annual Retreat in next month's issue of the Alabama Sierran, but we thought you'd be interested in what the keynote speaker did at beautiful Lake Eufaula when he wasn't talking with all of us! From Scot Duncan, who spoke on Alabama's biodiversity:

"I birded Eufaula NWR today and yesterday. I haven't been on the refuge since I was a child, so it was fun to explore this new area. Best birds were LINCOLN'S SPARROW and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. This was my second Lincoln's Sparrow this fall. Other highlights are listed below.

I flushed a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO from a willow tree out over the water. The winds were howling out of the north and I think this bird was regretting his procrastination. Another late bird was a Green Heron, but perhaps they overwinter there.

Duck watching is not easy on the refuge right now. Most of the duck action seemed to be in areas surrounded by willows and other trees. I would see flights of ducks pass low over these areas as they moved in and out, so I got a little practice on identification of ducks in flight. I was able to confirm Mallard, American Black, Ring-necked, N. Shoveler, and Wood Duck.

There are billions of sparrows on the refuge right now. Many of the impoundments are loaded with seed, and everywhere I stopped there would be dozens of Swamp and Song Sparrows that were very attentive to my spishing [editor's note: a sound used to entice birds]. Savannah's and White-throated were around, too.

Saw a flock of ibis this morning at dawn. They were silhouetted against the orange of the dawn sky, so I don't know what species.Tree Swallows were in abundance both days. And both Forster's Tern and Ring-billed Gull were present on Saturday, but I saw no gulls or terns today.

House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and one Blue-headed Vireo were also detected - species that are rare in north Alabama during the winter, but are more common on the coastal plain, where Eufaula is. Raptors were abundant, including Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, Osprey, and Bald Eagles. Red-shouldered and Red-tails, too.

So, the last of the neotropical migrants are being swept off the continent with these fronts, and the seed-eaters and waterfowl are arriving to keep us company through the winter. But I'm already longing for my first Northern Parula's and Cerulean Warblers in the spring. Ah, winter."

Scot Duncan, originally reported on the albird list.


Above: North Alabama Group works with Nature's Echo on a program showing wildlife to look for in wilderness.

A Great Celebration of Nature at the October North Alabama Group's Monthly Meeting

Nature’s Echo, a non-profit based in Pine Mountain, GA, uses non-releasable birds of prey and other native wildlife to teach about the valuable role each species plays in our living world. They brought live birds of prey/raptors to educate and amaze us.

From their website: Nature’s Echo is dedicated to inspiring a greater awareness of our Natural World with the hope that knowledge will breed respect. The group seeks to accomplish its’ mission through the presentation of diverse and interactive environmental education programs utilizing flighted raptors to encourage the thoughtful stewardship of the Earth and its’ resources.

We believe strongly in a holistic approach to environmental conservation and captive raptor management. To that end, Nature’s Echo, Inc. will constantly strive to identify, implement and encourage the best aviculture practices among our peers and to continually provide a positive and enriching environment for the animals in our care.

In addition to its’ interpretive efforts, Nature’s Echo, Inc. will support relative conservation projects especially those focused on the welfare of raptors and the preservation of their vital habitat. We feel passionately that only by encouragement and example can we impact lasting global change.

Don't miss out on another monthly North Alabama Group meeting! Come to the Chili Cookout Social Saturday, Nov 22 – Monte Sano Chili Cookout Social. Join us at the Monte Sano campground for an evening of fun, campfire, chili, and dutch oven cooking. (learn more in the Outings Section under North Alabama)


EPA Grants GASP Petition to Investigate in Tarrant

from G.A.S.P. (Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution)

TARRANT, Ala. (Oct. 9, 2014)— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified GASP that it has granted a July 1, 2014, petition to perform a preliminary assessment of the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of hazardous substances.

In a letter to GASP, Randall Chaffins, acting director of the EPA Superfund Division wrote, ”The agency has carefully reviewed GASP's petition and finds that sufficient facts and details were provided to warrant a [preliminary assessment] to determine if a threat to the public or the environment exists€ in Tarrant.” The letter comes on the heels of a resolution sponsored by Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight, who represents Tarrant, to oppose the request.

The assessment, which will be completed by July 2015, is the first step in determining whether or not an area is a threat to public health and warrants further investigation. Tarrant is home to ABC Coke, one of the named potentially responsible parties for the 35th Avenue Superfund Site. Tarrant was not included when the EPA initially investigated the areas in northern Birmingham that are now part of that site.

GASP is currently appealing the Jefferson County Board of Health's decision to re-issue the ABC Coke permit without significant reductions to air pollution.

“In the absence of appropriate action by the Jefferson County Department of Health, GASP petitioned the EPA to assess the dangers to people living in proximity to Drummond's ABC Coke plant,” said Executive Director Stacie M. Propst, PhD. “We’re pleased that the EPA is taking this step to help the hard working people of Tarrant.”

For more information, please contact Michael Hansen at 205-746-4666 or michael@gaspgroup.org.


There is Still Time To Submit: November 7 Deadline!!!! Please Submit Your Comments on DEIS Proposed I-10 Mobile River Bridge.

(from Carol Adams-Davis with the Mobile Bay Group of the Sierra Club.) See the pdf of the letter I sent to Vincent Calametti here.

Dear Mr. Calametti,

I understand and support the stated purpose and needs of the I-10 Mobile River Bridge DEIS, that are to increase the capacity of Interstate-10 to meet existing and predicted future traffic volumes in the Mobile area, to provide a direct route for vehicles transporting hazardous materials, and minimize adverse impacts to the maritime industry.

To be clear, I support an I-10 bridge, but definitely not the Aternative B Preferred Route location. All reasonable and smart alternative routes should have been included and considered at a comparable level of detail in the DEIS, and they were not.

As you know, the USDOT Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment released in June 2014, focuses on Mobile and examines the vulnerability of its transportation infrastructure to climate change. The analysis information concludes that the locations of the Alternative A Route, the Alternative B Route and the Alternative B Preferred Route, all tying in to the existing I-10 Bayway, are highly vulnerable to current storms and storm surge that could conceivably happen today, and of course highly vulnerable to more intense storms, coupled with sea level rise of the future.

USDOT, Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2 Task 3.1: Screening for Vulnerability http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/climate_change/adaptation/ongoing_and_current _research/gulf_coast_study/phase2_task3/index.cfm

Hence, the DEIS should include a climate change mitigation section.

In light of this documented vulnerability, I cannot imagine having success in seeking funding for a bridge in the Alternative B Preferred Route location.

Dr. Bernard H. Eichold, II, MD, Director of the Mobile County Board of Health, has sited another popular route, not included in the DEIS, but publicly supported for years. If you 1 start just east of Michigan Ave on existing I-10 and go straight across the bay using the north end of McDuffie Island and by Little Sand Island you will end up in the Daphne area, where ALDOT can design an appropriate connection to the existing I-10 on the Eastern Shore. This might even present an opportunity to mitigate the longstanding problems on the existing Highway 98. This bridge location could also minimize the travel required to access It.

Dr. Eichold’s suggested route would avoid negative impacts on the historic districts, parks, residential neighborhoods, schools, and nursing homes. It would alleviate problems during the lengthy construction period regarding noise in downtown, air quality issues downtown, vibrations to historic buildings, settling after completion, closing tourist attractions, etc. The existing industrial businesses and operations would not have to function in the shadows of a bridge, and persons living in the Down the Bay Peninsula Community would not have to live under a bridge.

The vertical clearance would be the same as the Alternative B Preferred Bridge but the incline would be much less. The distance of the maximum elevation clearance span could be much longer, giving the Maritime Industry more volume, flexibility, commercial opportunity, and leeway. Vehicles transporting hazardous materials would not have to shift gears up and down an intense incline, and there would be no potentially hazardous curve leading in to the bridge as in the Alternative B Preferred Bridge design.

The new independent I-10 Bridge in this location would be able to survive a major tropical storm and be a much better evacuation route alternative. Mobile and Baldwin Counties would be able to receive the much-needed supplies, while the injured could be transported to the appropriate medical facilities.

This bridge would be more cost efficient than the other proposals because it would still be here at the end of the century and beyond. The State of Alabama cannot afford to build an inadequate structure that is improperly located.

Of course, the new bridge should be accessible to all travellers, so it should include a pedestrian/bicycle facility, which was omitted in the DEIS. Please feel free to contact me anytime for further explantion and clarification!

Sincerely,

Carol Adams-Davis
Resident of Leinkauf Neignborhood Historic District

You can write a letter or use the comment form (found here). I preferred not to use the comment form, but whatever works best for you. You can email, fax or mail your comments. Public comment deadline is November 7, 2014.


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Sierra Club Outings

Fall is in full swing!! 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 park! Great outings and meetings from North Alabama all the way to the Gulf! more>>>