WAY TO GO, DR. BOB: The Conservation Alabama Foundation issued a press release praising newly inaugurated Governor Robert Bentley for his executive order that declared a moratorium on the issuance of any new or modified permits or the transfer of any existing permits for solid waste management facilities in the state. Bentley wants the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to look more closely at the effects of such facilities on individual communities and the state as a whole. Bentley wants ADEM to evaluate such factors as health, safety and the environment. According to Foundation executive director Adam Snyder, “We have long believed that Alabama has become the nation’s dumping ground and a thorough review of the state’s permitting process is needed to ensure Alabama remains ‘The Beautiful.’” According to the Foundation, there have been many new landfill proposals around the state recently, many of which seek permission to accept out-of-state waste.
LET’S HOPE FOREVER MEANS FOREVER: The push is on to get the Alabama state legislature to extend the life of Forever Wild, the state’s land conservation program. Without action from the legislature, the popular program will expire in 2012 after 20 years. The diverse coalition fighting to extend Forever Wild includes birders, hunters, hikers, anglers, environmentalists, coal-mining interests, Alabama Power and the Christian Coalition, according to a recent report by Thomas Spencer of The Birmingham News. Using money from the state oil and gas trust fund, Forever Wild has purchased more that 200,000 acres in Alabama, including more than 184,000 acres where hunting is allowed. According to Spencer, Alabama still ranks last among Southeastern states in publicly preserved acreage, and the coalition is seeking a 20-year extension of Forever Wild. Read Spencer’s piece, called “Forever Wild may lose funding from Alabama,” at al.com.
WHAT’S THE PLAN, KEN? Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently released the draft of a plan to guide the management of the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next 10 years, according to a news release from the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The document, developed by the Service and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, is called Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation. It offers about 100 recommendations to protect and improve U.S. public lands. The draft will be available for public comment until Earth Day, April 22. The recommendations include engaging youth in an array of work and volunteer programs, reviewing the appropriate use policy so that a wider variety of nature-based experiences may be possible and establishing a “Friends” group for every staffed refuge. For more information or to post ideas and comments regarding the plan, visit www.americaswildlife.org. Learn more about the National Wildlife Refuge System at www.fws.gov/refuges.
THAT MINE IS THE PITS: More than 360 sporting organizations, ranging from fly-fishing groups to big-game hunters, signed a letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to use the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska, from large-scale mining and development, including a proposed open-pit mine. According to a news release from Trout Unlimited, the EPA took the first step toward protecting the Southwestern Alaskan region on February 7, when the agency announced plans to assess the Bristol Bay watershed to understand how large-scale development projects might affect Bristol Bay’s water quality and lucrative salmon fishery. Bristol Bay is a 40,000-square-mile region with nine major rivers and is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. Pebble Mine would be an open-pit mine up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep and could dump toxic waste in the watershed, the release says. The groups’ letter to the EPA is posted at www.savebristolbay.org.
ALABAMA AND AUBURN MAKE THE DANCE: At the peak of college basketball season each spring, the conservation group Ducks Unlimited announces its own Sweet 16—the DU college chapters that raise the most money for the group. This year, the University of Alabama and Auburn University chapters made the list (‘Bama at no. 3 and Auburn at no. 14). There are 120 DU collegiate chapters in the United States. According to David Schuessler of the DU, “The volunteers who make up these 16 college chapters are thefuture conservation leaders of not only DU, but all conservation efforts in the country.” Ducks Unlimited is a nonprofit working to conserve North America’s disappearing waterfowl habitats. Check them out at www.ducks.org.
MY HOUSE IS STILL ON THE TRUCK: According to a new release from EcoUrban, an urban redevelopment firm in St. Louis, every American city has “gap-tooth” lots that once featured homes, but are now vacant or littered with crumbling structures. EcoUrban tells us that they are planning to fill eight such lots near downtown St. Louis with small, affordable and eco-friendly prefab and modular homes. The project is called Sullivan Place and, according to the release, is a partnership with other housing, renewal and economic development groups. The project is called “a new kind of sustainable housing that is affordable for those who want to live in the city and may not have a car.” For all the dope, check out www.ecourbanstl.com.
Jesse Chambers is a Birmingham Weekly contributing editor. Andy McWhorter will be back in Green Space soon. For now, check out his “Hot Seat/Limelight” feature. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.