Hey, Green Spacers, it’s Jesse. What up? I’m just chillin’ here at the Green Space cracker barrel. I’m giving Madison Underwood a break this week. I also want to welcome our enterprising new Green Space intern, Andy McWhorter, who will be our lead-off hitter this week with an item related to that damned depressing Gulf oil spill.
INSTANT WETLANDS—JUST ADD WATER: In light of the environmental devastation caused by the spill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) realized that something needs to be done to prevent millions of migratory birds from landing on oiled beaches and waters on their way to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Their solution? Flood hundreds of acres of land in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and plant tons of rice to create entirely new wetland refuges, according to an FWS news release. Conservation groups hope that the new wetlands, filled with easy food, will divert some of the flock away from the Gulf. It’s a gamble to say the least, but accord ing to Bob Strader, a refuge manager in Mississippi, “We’ve got to try to do something. This is a pretty good effort.” However, even if the new wetlands do not work as hoped in the short term, they could still benefit migrations in the long term. According to Deisha Norwood, another refuge manager, “That’s what we’re here for, to provide habitat for migratory birds.” For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/. AM
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY: When Sonya Unnoppet moved to Helena last December, she was excited about a new recycling program in the area. However, she soon learned that few of her neighbors in the Riverwoods subdivision took advantage of it. In fact, she discovered that only 52 of the 325 houses in Riverwoods recycled. In response, Unnoppet started the Riverwoods Helena Recycle Project. Kendall Zettler, the developer of the subdivision, has donated $500 in cash prizes to help encourage residents of the development to sign up for recycling pickups with Allied Waste. Any Riverwoods residents who sign up with Allied from August 9 through August 27 will be entered in a prize drawing scheduled for August 30. Five $100 prizes will be given to five families. For more information, contact Zettler at (205) 621-3901. And look for updates in coming weeks in Green Space. JC
GREEN BLOGGING, GREEN DRINKING: Birmingham entrepreneur and eco-activist Elena Todd White was recently honored by the NAACP as an Outstanding Young Professional for 2010 for her dedication to the environmental movement. White’s blog, Life The Green Way, provides money-saving green tips, air quality updates and other environmental information. White is also the organizer of the local chapter of Green Drinks, an international organization that brings together environmentally minded people to share a drink or two, discuss the green lifestyle and foster a more dynamic social network within the green movement. Green Drinks meets the fourth Tuesday of each month from 6-8 p.m. at Rogue Tavern. Go to www.greendrinks.org for more information. You can follow White on her blog at http://lifethegreenway.blogspot.com/. AM
DOING YOU A FAVOR: Why is it that politicians and bureaucrats want to make you think they’re doing you a favor when they do what they should do anyway? Citing what it calls “the Obama Administration’s continuing commitment to open government,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is trying to make it easier for people to learn about the possible dangers to their communities posed by industrial releases and transfers of toxic chemicals. According to a news release, the EPA recently published data on releases and transfers that occurred in the United States during 2009. Available at www.epa.gov/, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) contains information on nearly 650 chemicals reported to the EPA by more than 21,000 industrial and other facilities. Facilities must report their data by July 1 of each year. “The data we’re releasing provides critical insights about pollution and polluters in the places where people live, work, play and learn,” according to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Making that knowledge available is the first step in empowering communities to protect the environment in their areas.” JC
GUARDING OUR WATER: The Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC) will hold a public hearing about the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine on Thursday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m., in Building 1400 at Bevill State Community College in Sumiton. The nearly 1,800-acre coal strip mine would be located along the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. According to a press release from Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, the mine would be fewer than 800 feet from the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) Mulberry Fork drinking water intake and would allow pollutants to travel directly into the water treatment facility.
According to Riverkeeper, the BWWB recently sent the ASMC a letter of opposition to the mine expressing concerns about source water quality degradation, increased treatment costs and decreased tap water quality. The BWWB says that placing a coal mine in close proximity to a major municipal water supply intake is “unprecedented” and “represents an incompatible use.” Riverkeeper urges citizens concerned about the mine’s effects on the local water supply to attend the meeting and make their feelings known. For more information, call Black Warrior Riverkeeper at (205) 458-0095. AM
ALABAMA GOES BUGGY: If you live in a crappy little one-bedroom apartment like the one I inhabit in East Lake, nobody has to tell you that Alabama has a bug problem. (By the way, I think I should start charging those f**king little German cockroaches room and board.) But if you need further proof, now comes the results of a national telephone survey of homeowners conducted by BASF Pest Control Solutions, a division of the giant chemical firm. Alabama was ranked no. 8 among the top 10 buggiest states. Florida is ranked no. 1 for bug infestation problems, including ants, termites and cockroaches. Louisiana and Texas were runners-up. JC
HOT DAMN, LET’S HAVE US A FISH FRY! One time when I was maybe six or seven years old (in the early days of the dark period in our nation’s history called the Johnson Administration), I rode with my maternal grandmother (I called her “Mama”) and somebody with a driver’s license (Mama never had one) to a market on Vanderbilt Road where she bought a whole crap-load of fish—catfish, I think. We went back to the house, where Mama went into a frying, hush-puppy-making frenzy. My mom did not, nor does she now, care for fish, and she really hated the way frying fish made the place smell. “It just made me sick,” she says. Well, this here unrepentant cracker LOVES the shit, you hear me? And now I am thrilled to learn that August is National Catfish Month—at least according to The Catfish Institute. According to a news release from the institute, “U.S. farmraised catfish is a mild, healthy fish, contains omega-3, and is versatile enough for any recipe.” Well, yee-ha! Let’s get to frying. I just wish Mama was still here. I really miss her. For recipes, go to http://www.uscatfish.com/. JC
Jesse Chambers is a Birmingham Weekly contributing editor. Send your comments—including tips on fish fryin’ and bug killin’—to firstname.lastname@example.org.