Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black bears moving into Northeast Alabama -Anniston Star



Anniston Star - Good news bears species showing signs of comeback: Evidence of a small full-time population in Northeast Alabama is mounting, according to a story in the Anniston Star.

A study of the black bear population at Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne offered more definitive answers about the black bear population in that area. The study, which ended in October, confirmed what some scientists already were sure of – there is a sustainable black bear population there.

Researchers found two female black bears with cubs and evidence of 16 to 19 bears in the preserve. The sustainable black bear population at Little River Canyon didn’t exist a decade ago, Steury said.

This image, taken earlier this month in Nances Creek by a motion-sensor-activated camera, shows a black bear, according to a JSU biology professor. The species, once common in Alabama, may be staging a comeback. (Photo courtesy of Robert Carter)

Read more:Anniston Star - Good news bears species showing signs of comeback

Monday, November 19, 2012

Alabama park wins award for urban green space - chicagotribune.com

Alabama park wins award for urban green space - chicagotribune.com by Verna Gates

Dubbed Birmingham's living room, Railroad Park has drawn a diverse blend of people from the city to the suburbs since opening in 2010. Its evolution from an ugly wasteland into a beautiful, highly-used space also drew the attention of the Urban Land Institute, which is presenting its prestigious 2012 Urban Open Space Award to park and city officials.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Corpse flowers, ethereal and otherworldly, bloom in Alabama's woods | al.com

Excerpt from Ben Raines, al.com: Corpse flowers, ethereal and otherworldly, bloom in Alabama's woods | al.com: Also known as ghost plants and ice flowers, the plants have none of the green chlorophyll that courses through the veins of almost every other plant growing on Earth. Plants use the chlorophyll in their leaves to turn sunlight into glucose, which fuels the plant.

.....The delicate and ethereal flowers have emerged in Alabama woods in the last few weeks. Look for them in places with a thick canopy above and few green plants growing close to the ground. Though they are few and far between, when you find one, you’ll often find several more growing within 20 or 30 feet. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Florence fashion designer Billy Reid outfits Daniel Craig in latest James Bond film

From Bob Carlton's article on at al.com: Made with 100-percent Italian wool, the navy-colored, double-breasted pea coat is accented with natural horn buttons and leather details under the collar and pockets. That style of coat, which falls just below the waist, was originally worn by European sailors as far back as the 1700s.

The internationally famous fashion designer Billy Reid has a big fan in James Bond star Daniel Craig, and one of Reid’s menswear designs has a supporting role in the British actor’s latest 007 thriller “Skyfall,” which opens nationwide Friday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

From Ben Raines: Ancient sand dollars spill from the banks of the Alabama River, hinting at a watery past

35 million year old sand dollars spill from the river bank along the Alabama River near Perdue Hill and the Claiborne Dam. The area is famous for its fossils, with oysters, cockles and other sea creatures frozen in time along the river. (Ben Raines/Al.com)
Ancient sand dollars spill from the banks of the Alabama River, hinting at a watery past | al.com: The presence of the oysters and sand dollars so far from the present day coastline has helped scientists understand the dramatic changes in sea level, dating back millions of years.

Forty million years ago, most of Florida, and much of Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and Texas were underwater, submerged under an ancient version of the Gulf of Mexico. With bluffs along the river south of the Claiborne Dam reaching up 200 feet, Rindsberg said fossils from many ancient eras can be found.

Tagged Alligator Snapping Turtle caught and released




Nice story from an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource's Press Release. Last Month, Woody Bozeman was fishing the Tallapoosa River for catfish just off the boat ramp at Ft. Toulouse National Historic Park in Wetumpka, Ala.
At 11:30 p.m., he noticed the tip of his rod begin to bend slightly. In the 40 minutes that followed as he brought his catch to the surface, Bozeman would be surprised by the creature he’d hooked -- an 83-pound alligator snapping turtle.
It turned out to be tagged and Bozeman contacted the DCNR which was able to gather scientific information on this iconic creature of Southern waterways. They then released the turtle, which is on the state's protected species list because of  declining numbers

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Moderation Means - David Brooks - NYTimes.com

What Moderation Means - NYTimes.com: Moderates start with a political vision, but they get it from history books, not philosophy books. That is, a moderate isn’t ultimately committed to an abstract idea. Instead, she has a deep reverence for the way people live in her country and the animating principle behind that way of life. In America, moderates revere the fact that we are a nation of immigrants dedicated to the American dream — committed to the idea that each person should be able to work hard and rise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The turtle rider: A Dauphin Island girl remembers a childhood spent in a different world | al.com

The turtle rider: A Dauphin Island girl remembers a childhood spent in a different world | by Ben Raines of al.com: Collins was born on Dauphin Island in 1932, decades before a bridge connected the island to the mainland. Island life meant no electricity, no running water, and no cars.

From Ben Raines:30 years of bird banding by Alabama couple has changed our understanding of migration | al.com

Nice piece and photos about great Alabamians:

30 years of bird banding by Alabama couple has changed our understanding of migration | al.com: For more than 20 years, Sargent, his wife Martha, and a gypsy caravan’s worth of volunteer bird lovers have gathered in this place to band as many migrating birds as possible each spring and fall. The couple created non-profit Hummer/Bird Study Group to finance their efforts.

The data they’ve collected from the hundreds of thousands of birds they’ve banded has changed the scientific understanding of annual migrations. They’ve proven that Alabama was home to seven hummingbird species instead of one, and shown that species once believed to be restricted to the coldest parts of the nation are regular visitors to the south. All in all, it makes for an impressive body of scientific work for a pair of retired electricians like the Sargents.

USA Today on Homewood: More small towns thinking big


From USA Today: More small towns thinking big: Homewood, Ala., pop. 25,000, borders the southern edge of Birmingham and has turned from an aging suburb of small single-family homes into a destination popular for its urban shops and restaurants.

The city tore down its old city hall and built one to anchor a new downtown, Mayor Scott McBrayer says. Parking is underneath. Upscale condos top shops and restaurants. A hotel is across the street.

"You can walk to grocery stores and shop downtown," he says.

Homewood's average age dropped from 60 to under 40 in about 10 years as a result.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Comparing Alabama in terms of conserved land

One of my first assignments at The Public Affairs Research Council was to write about the upcoming vote on the state's land preservation program, Forever Wild. Approval of the measure labeled Amendment 1 on the November ballot would extend Forever Wild for another 20 years.
A more extensive discussion of that amendment and others can be found in PARCA's Analysis of Proposed Statewide Amendments for the November 6th General Election.

To put Forever Wild in a regional context I produced a few maps and charts that might be of interest.
Here's a map comparing conservation land among Southeastern states. The information is drawn from the Conservation Almanac published by the Trust for Public Land. Their most current survey data is for 2005.
Alabama ranks last in the Southeast on all measures: acres preserved, acres preserved per capita, and percentage of total area preserved.




There are significant differences in land conservation among the various regions of the U.S. with a lot more public land having been preserved out west and a much smaller amount in the more densely populated Mid-Atlantic states.

So sticking with the Southeast region, here are a few ways of looking at the amount of land preserved in the Southeastern states in comparison with each other. You'll notice that state's like Florida and Arkansas with large national forests or national parks rank higher. But several states have been aggressive in recent years in land conservation, particularly Florida.




Forever Wild funding for the first 20 years


In November, voters will decide whether to extend the state's land preservation program, Forever Wild, for another 20 years. The program, which will expire this year if the Amendment 1 fails, receives 10 percent of the earnings on the state's oil and gas trust fund. 
Here's a look at how much it has received over the past 20 years. 
That money has paid for the preservation and management of 231,000 acres across the state: from waterfalls at the Walls of Jericho in North Alabama, to Black Belt prairie land, to swamps of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to the estuary marshes of the Grand Bay Savanna on Mobile Bay.  

New job at The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama

I've now officially started at The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
Last week, we published a guide to the constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. 
That guide was contained in our monthly newsletter, The PARCA Perspective. Also included is a discussion of why we have so many constitutional amendments to vote on. This November we could potentially add 28 amendments to Alabama's 1901 Constitution, which is already by far the nation's longest.
That would be more in a single year than have been added to the U.S. Constitution in more than 200 years. Alabama's Constitution currently has 857 amendments. 
Also included is a link to a PARCA analysis of the latest test scores for schools. You can find results for every school and system in Alabama.    
If you are interested, you can sign up to receive PARCA publications by email. There are instructions for signing up on the home page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chef Collin Donnelly: The Small Town Chef 2012 - Cooking Light

If you ever happen to be in Lexington, Va., check out The Red Hen, a small and fine restaurant owned by my college chum, John Blackburn. His chef is an Alabama native, Collin Donnelly who was just named Cooking Light's Small Town Chef for 2012.
Donnelly can do things with things with obscure cuts of pork that will make you squeal.


Chuck Dean: Roy Moore talks of power, money, the Constitution and hemorrhoids



Roy Moore talks of power, money, the Constitution and hemorrhoids | al.com: "When I first ran for circuit judge I was informed that the qualities of a judge should be honesty, dedication and experience and I put that on my signs," said Moore. "After I was elected, an older judge called me in and said, 'Roy, that's not exactly what the best qualifications are. First, you must have thinning hair to show your age. Second, you must have glasses to show you study the law. Then you have to have hemorrhoids.' "
Moore said he asked why he needed hemorrhoids. "The judge then said, 'Hemorrhoids give you a concerned look.' "

Read more ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alabama again ranks second to last in the nation in environmental spending | al.com

Alabama again ranks second to last in the nation in environmental spending | al.com: Only Colorado spends less than Alabama on a per capita basis, said Scott Hughes, an ADEM spokesman. The data is compiled by the Environmental Council of States.

Alabama ranked 49th out of the 50 states in fiscal year 2012, LeFleur said, and will remain second to last for fiscal year 2013.

LeFleur has previously said that the state had chosen to have a barebones environmental agency. In his comments Friday, he said that the state might fail even that low bar in the near future.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bill Finch: What we often fail to love about Alabama the beautiful (Opinion)

What we often fail to love about Alabama the beautiful (Opinion) | al.com: wouldn't it surprise you, and most of the rest of the world, if it were known that the center of eastern North America's natural diversity isn't North Carolina (where we all go piled into the car when we want to see nature) or Florida or New England. The center of eastern North America's natural diversity is, amazingly enough, little ol' Alabama. There are a tiny handful of states that have significantly more natural diversity. But California is nearly three times larger than Alabama, and Texas, good heavens, is six times larger. Of course they have more species. On the world's stage, Alabama walks with the giants of biological diversity.
Read more . . .

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cotton's in Ensley to close


Nice story by Stan Diel on the closing of landmark store in Ensley. If you ever wanted a Sunday nice hat, this was the place to go. Hurry while supplies last.

Ensley's iconic Cotton's department store to close (photo gallery) | al.com: ENSLEY - Cotton's department store, an Ensley icon that survived the Great Depression, several wars and 90 years of changing fashions, will close its doors for the last time before the end of the year, its owners said today.
A combination of a deep, lingering recession and a deteriorating neighborhood has become too much to overcome, said Harry Weinberg, who married into the Cotton family and runs the store with his wife Rhonda, a granddaughter of the founders.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An ancient geologic connection to current day politics

Obama's Secret Weapon In The South: Small, Dead, But Still Kickin' : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR: These same counties went mostly blue in 2004 and 2000. Why? Well, the best answer, says marine biologist Craig McClain, may be an old one, going back before the Civil War, before 1776, before Columbus, back more than 100 million years to the days when the Deep South was under water. Those counties, as he writes here, went for Obama because trillions and trillions and trillions of teeny sun-loving creatures died there. He's talking about plankton. That's why the Republicans can't carry those counties. Blame plankton.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alabama Power purchases electricity generated by wind in Oklahoma, Kansas | al.com

Alabama Power purchases electricity generated by wind in Oklahoma, Kansas | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --- Alabama Power Co. is adding more wind energy to its power portfolio, a deal with an attractive cost that further diversifies the company's mix of fuels.
With the most recent deal, approved this month by the Public Service Commission, the utility eventually will be bringing in 404 megawatts of electricity generated at wind farms in Oklahoma and Kansas. That amounts to about 3 percent of the electricity consumed by its customers.
Read more:

Environmental group says Mulberry Fork site on Warrior River unsuitable for mines | al.com

Environmental group says Mulberry Fork site on Warrior River unsuitable for mines | al.com: after several years of fighting the mines through the conventional permit processes, the environmental group saw the petition as a way to address the fundamental question of whether coal mines belong on river stretches officially designated as public water sources.
"We think it is an effective tool, particularly in situations like this," said Eva Dil�lard, staff attorney for the group. "Is this the right thing to do for our source drinking water?"
Read More:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UAB professor gearing up for a year celebrating Proust | al.com

UAB professor gearing up for a year celebrating Proust | al.com: Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Swann's Way," the first volume of what would become a sprawling seven-volume novel, Proust's masterpiece "In Search of Lost Time."
In preparation for surging interest in Proust, Carter will be updating and enhancing his Proust website, where subscribers can take a self-paced tour through the novel with Carter's lectures to guide them.
Read More:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alabama landfill rules make dumping easy process | al.com

Joe Songer Photo at the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County 
Alabama landfill rules make dumping easy process | al.com: To some, Alabama appeared poised to become a dumping ground for the nation's trash. Local governments were hungry for the money being offered by landfill developers; landfill operators in Alabama offer low rates to their customers compared to more densely populated and highly regulated states to the north; and the state offers a relatively simple process for getting a permit to operate a landfill.
In the face of the mounting controversy, Gov. Robert Bentley issued a moratorium on new landfills shortly after he took office, and the Legislature later enacted another temporary moratorium. With the moratorium set to expire in May 2014, a team of experts from Auburn University, under contract with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, is conducting a series of public forums around the state to talk with residents about the state's system for issuing landfill permits and solicit suggestions for improving it.
The final meeting in the series will be held in Birmingham on Nov. 13.
Read More:

Alabama bogs come alive with butterflies at summer's end

By Ben Raines
Alabama bogs come alive with butterflies at summer's end (photos) | al.com: As summer begins to fade, the pitcher plant bogs of Mobile and Baldwin Counties come alive with butterflies and moths. There are more than 100 species that call Alabama home. A dozen species could be seen during a walk of about 200 feet Thursday afternoon at the Weeks Bay Reserve.
Read More:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Birmingham-grown green living expert to speak at UAB | al.com

Birmingham-grown green living expert to speak at UAB | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Ed McMahon, now an internationally known expert in sustainable development, grew up in Birmingham at a time when people equated polluted skies with a thriving economy.
His first job was at Operation New Birmingham in the early 1970s, when Birmingham's downtown concentration of retail and offices were feeling the early heat of competition from malls and suburban office parks. Tonight, McMahon, the Urban Land Institute's senior fellow for sustainable development, returns to his native city in a very different era.
He'll speak at UAB, where he earned his master's degree, on "The Dollars and Sense of Sustainable Development" at 7 p.m. tonight at the UAB Hill Center has changed in the U.S.," McMahon said.
Read More:

Vincent site added to EPA's Superfund list | al.com

Vincent site added to EPA's Superfund list | al.com: The EPA announced today that it has added a Shelby County site to the Superfund list.
The contaminated site of a former electro-plating company in Vincent has been added to the national priorities list of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program.
Read More:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sand Island, restored a year ago, disappears after Hurricane Isaac (video) | al.com

Sand Island, restored a year ago, disappears after Hurricane Isaac (video) | al.com: Sand Island is gone.
Sunk.
Disappeared beneath the waves.
And poor Sand Island lighthouse is once again a lonely brick pillar sitting on a pile of rocks with the nearest dry land about three miles away.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform

Fascinating story that has profound implications:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/17/161159263/teachers-expectations-can-influence-how-students-perform?sc=ipad&f=1001
Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform
by Alix Spiegel
NPR - September 17, 2012

Expectations effect teachers' moment-to-moment interactions with the children they teach in a thousand almost invisible ways. Teachers give the students that they expect to succeed more time to answer questions, more specific feedback, and more approval: They consistently touch, nod and smile at those kids more.
"It's not magic, it's not mental telepathy," Rosenthal says. "It's very likely these thousands of different ways of treating people in small ways every day."

Friday, September 14, 2012

EPA urges Army Corps of Engineers to reject Northern Beltline permit | al.com

EPA urges Army Corps of Engineers to reject Northern Beltline permit | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A permit application to begin construction of the proposed Northern Beltline should be rejected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a letter issued this week to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Read More:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ancient forest lies 10 miles off the Alabama coast (video, gallery) | al.com

Imagine the Gulf 120 feet shallower than it is today and a shoreline far to the south of the current coast.
Environmental Reporter Ben Raines recently dove down 60 feet, 10 miles from shore to explore an Ice Age forest.

Ancient forest lies 10 miles off the Alabama coast (video, gallery) | al.com: Sixty feet beneath the green waves of the Gulf of Mexico, ten miles from the nearest land, stands an ancient forest of giant trees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Leading Scientist E.O. Wilson accepts Alabama Humanities Award | al.com

Leading Scientist E.O. Wilson accepts Alabama Humanities Award | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Alabama Humanities Foundation presented its top annual award Monday to one of the world's foremost scientists, E.O. Wilson.
Wilson, who spent his academic career at Harvard University, grew up around Mobile and graduated from the University of Alabama. He described himself to the audience gathered at The Club as "an Alabamian who went up North to get work."
Read More:

$246,800 in grants aid in Jefferson County recycling expansion | al.com

$246,800 in grants aid in Jefferson County recycling expansion | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Alabama Environmental Council and Jefferson County Health Department have been awarded $246,800 to expand recycling in the county, including the creation of five more drop-off sites and the addition of plastic foam recycling at the downtown recycling center.
It's the third straight year the partnership, which also includes cooperation with UAB and other cities, has secured a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Read More:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Red Mountain Park plan wins national honor | al.com

Red Mountain Park plan wins national honor | al.com: The master plan created to guide the development of Birmingham's Red Mountain Park will be recognized as one of the top design and planning projects for 2012 by the American Society of Landscape Architects. It was one of 37 honored out of 620 entries from around the world.
Recognized in the analysis and planning category, the park plan was described by the ASLA Professional Awards Jury as a "bold" effort to reclaim a mined-over mountain site, preserving history while uniting what have been geographically and socially separate communities on the north and south sides of the mountain.
Read More:

John Archibald tribute to Birmingham gadfly Gene Edelman

Birmingham gadfly Gene Edelman was last of his breed | al.com: I won't remember Gene for his clothes. They were merely his plumage, the costume he wore to fight whatever battle he chose for the day. Most often, it was a fight to give children a better chance for a better world.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Alabama license plate historian recounts 'Heart of Dixie' history

A story from the iPad edition of the al.com:

Alabama license plate historian recounts 'Heart of Dixie' history

Download more al.com apps from the iTunes Store today!

Zoos and Climate Change

From The New York Times:

THE ANIMAL LIFEBOAT: Intriguing Habitats, and Careful Discussions of Climate Change

Many zoos are fearful of alienating visitors with tours or wall labels that dwell bleakly on damaged coral reefs, melting ice caps or dying trees.

http://nyti.ms/PhbrAy

NYTimes: Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)

From The New York Times:

BITS: Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)

In taking a forced break from her smartphone and social media, a writer reclaims a sense of serenity.

http://nyti.ms/U1YLMS

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alabama to receive federal grant to restore longleaf pine forests | al.com

Alabama to receive federal grant to restore longleaf pine forests | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --- Alabama will receive an $874,327 federal grant to restore longleaf pine forests on public and private land, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday.
Once the dominant tree species from the Coastal Plain to the edges of the Appalachians, longleafs were treasured for their tough, rot-resistant timber and were nearly logged out of existence
Read more:

Birmingham Water Works Board votes to buy iPads for its members | al.com

Birmingham Water Works Board votes to buy iPads for its members | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Birmingham Water Works Board Thursday authorized spending almost $10,000 to buy up to 10 iPads for its board members and executives to help distribute materials.

The move, billed as a "green initiative" that will save paper and printing costs, will cost more than the current system for producing and hand-delivering booklets to board members. But proponents say it will make it easier to organize and search data.
Read more:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EPA wants more study before it issues construction OK for Birmingham Northern Beltline | al.com

EPA wants more study before it issues construction OK for Birmingham Northern Beltline | al.com: The EPA made the request in a letter sent last week to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is considering an application from the Alabama Department of Transportation to begin building the first 3.4 mile segment of the beltline. The road is a planned 52-mile interstate connector that would arc from Interstate 59 in the northeast corner of Jefferson County to I-20/59 at its junction with I-459 in the southwest corner of the county.
Read More:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Volunteers sought for community cleanup of Valley Creek in Midfield, Bessemer | al.com

Volunteers sought for community cleanup of Valley Creek in Midfield, Bessemer | al.com: MIDFIELD, Alabama -- Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson waded across Valley Creek in Midfield today carrying an algae-covered DVD player.
In the clear water at his feet, a small bass swam against the current, moving between channels carved in the limestone of the streambed. There were small pods of minnows, scattered shells of snails and mussels, and, at a wary distance, a heron prowled the shallows.

Candidate Mitt Romney blasts Obama, raises $2 million at Birmingham fundraiser | al.com

Candidate Mitt Romney blasts Obama, raises $2 million at Birmingham fundraiser | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised more than $2 million during a brief visit to Birmingham Wednesday evening, highlighted by a speech to supporters at The Club in which he blamed Obama administration policies for leaving the country stuck in an economic mire.
Read more:

About 75 people, mostly Hispanic, protest during Mitt Romney visit to The Club in Birmingham (video) | al.com

About 75 people, mostly Hispanic, protest during Mitt Romney visit to The Club in Birmingham (video) | al.com: HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- About 75 to 100 protesters, mostly Hispanic, chanted and held signs this evening at the entrance to The Club, a private club in Birmingham where Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is holding a fundraising dinner and reception.

Birmingham's Complete Streets policy recognized in national report | al.com

Birmingham's Complete Streets policy recognized in national report | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The City of Birmingham's policy planning streets friendly to cars, walkers and bicyclists has earned the city recognition in a a new nationwide analysis conducted by the National Complete Streets Coalition.
The report looks at the national trend toward adopting transportation design and building practices aimed at accomodating all users regardess of their mode of transportation.
Read more:

Alabama lags in incentives for solar power | al.com

Alabama lags in incentives for solar power | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Bart Slawson is one of only 27 residential customers of Alabama Power selling solar electricity back to the grid.
An environmental lawyer, Slawson had his 3 kilowatt system of solar panels installed in 2005. He didn't do it initially to save money, but because, first, he'd been fascinated by the idea since he was a kid and, second, he wanted people to be provoked into asking the same question he had: "I wondered why there is no photovoltaic presence in Alabama and it is full of sun," he

Snail thought extinct found in the Cahaba River | al.com

Snail thought extinct found in the Cahaba River | al.com: BIBB COUNTY, Alabama -- Using the gastropod equivalent of dental records, a University of Alabama graduate student has positively identified a snail, declared extinct in 2000, as being alive in a small but thriving colony in the Cahaba River.
Researchers believe the find may be a sign that pollution reductions resulting from the Clean Water Act as well as improvements made to the river by conservationists may be paying off.
Read More:

Monday, August 13, 2012

As Newspapers Shrink, Public Officials Worry

As Newspapers Shrink, Public Officials Worry: A big concern is how the cutbacks could affect the role of newspapers as government’s watchdog. Louisiana was ranked by Governing as the most corrupt state in the country, based on the number of public corruption convictions. Alabama was ranked eighth. If two states needed more reporters and pages of newsprint, not fewer, they would be Louisiana and Alabama.

States and fishing groups push back against federal mandate to remove idle oil and gas platforms (gallery, video) | al.com

States and fishing groups push back against federal mandate to remove idle oil and gas platforms (gallery, video) | al.com: Industry analysts say as many as 600 of the roughly 3,000 platforms remaining in the Gulf are slated for removal by 2015. A total of 265 platforms were removed in 2011, according to the Department of Interior.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cordova, at a crossroads after tornado devastation, rethinks its options (slideshow, video) | al.com

Cordova, at a crossroads after tornado devastation, rethinks its options (slideshow, video) | al.com: Struck by two powerful tornadoes on April 27, 2011, Cordova lost most of its business base, and the buildings left on its one-block core are in various states of collapse, with broken windows, missing roofs and piles of bricks spilling into the street.
August will be a month of intense debate over the town's fate, over how to revive it and whether to support strip-mining coal on town property along the banks of the Mulberry Fork.
Read More:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zelda's Birthday

Raise a glass to Zelda Fitzgerald, who was born July 24, 1900 in Montgomery, Ala.
Garrison Keillor had a wonderful snippet on The Writer's Almanac to mark the occasion. He includes a famous quote from Zelda: She said, "I don't want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally."  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Transportation bill eliminates designated source of funding for Northern Beltline, but keeps it on track | al.com

Transportation bill eliminates designated source of funding for Northern Beltline, but keeps it on track | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The federal transportation bill enacted earlier this month eliminates the separate, designated source of funding that was to be used to build a 52-mile interstate beltline north of Birmingham. But at the same time, it includes incentives and directives aimed at keeping the project on track.
Opponents of the $4.7 billion Northern Beltline say the change takes away one of the proponents' main arguments -- that money designated for the project can't be spent on other more pressing transportation needs. Now beltline spending will compete with transportation priorities statewide.
But supporters, who see the beltline as an economic bonanza for Jefferson County, say the legislation increases the appeal of the beltline by eliminating the requirement that the state provide a 20 percent match for federal funding. Now Appalachian Development Highway System projects can be paid for 100 percent with federal dollars.
Read more ...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

An inflow into the urban core of Detroit creates promise and tension: lessons for Birmingham?

Futurist Richard Florida, writing for Atlantic Cities, flagged a  provocative piece in the Detroit News, written by Karen Dumas, former press secretary for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
The piece discusses the fact that young, predominately white urbanites are flowing into center-city Detroit, a trend seen in metros around the country including Atlanta. That's beginning to happen in Birmingham too.
While that inflow can be positive for the economy and may start to reverse decades of population decline, it often leads to tension between the new arrivals and the long-suffering Detroit natives who didn't or couldn't move out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alabama's river trail earns national designation | al.com

Alabama's river trail earns national designation | al.com: The 631-mile Alabama Scenic River Trail was named Monday as a National Water Trail, part of a newly established system of recreational trails along rivers and creeks through bayous and bays.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oysters can handle some, but not all pollution we dump into the nation's estuaries | al.com

Ben Raines story on Dauphin Island Seas Lab and Auburn University research on oysters:

Oysters can handle some, but not all pollution we dump into the nation's estuaries | al.com: MOBILE, Alabama -- While oysters are known to be one of nature’s best natural filters, new research suggests there are limits to how much pollution they can clean up.
In fact, some of the nation’s estuaries are so overwhelmed with excess fertilizer that it would take more oysters than the bays can hold in order to purify the water.
Adult oysters are known to filter about 50 gallons of water daily. But existing research had never fully addressed how much pollution was removed from the water filtered by an oyster, versus how much pollution passed through the animal’s body back into the water.

Top 15 pivotal events in Alabama history, so says the state's chief historian | al.com

Nice piece by David White talking with the state's retiring state archivist:

Top 15 pivotal events in Alabama history, so says the state's chief historian | al.com: MONTGOMERY -- The days when men first walked on the moon and people first set foot in what is now Alabama are two of the 15 key dates in Alabama history listed recently by state archives Director Ed Bridges.

World War II, the Civil War and the civil rights movement also are represented by dates Bridges provided after he was asked to propose a top-10 list for Alabama history. He didn't stop at 10.
''Obviously, there are a lot of things I wanted to include here, and I couldn't get it down to 10, but somehow this 15 seemed to give a reasonably balanced overview," he said.
Bridges, 66, has been director of the state Department of Archives and History since May 1982. He plans to retire after Sept. 30.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Red Mountain Park to launch night-time zip-lining starting on Friday the 13th | al.com

Red Mountain Park to launch night-time zip-lining starting on Friday the 13th | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Just in time for Friday the 13th, Red Mountain Park is launching night-time zip-lining.
Starting Friday and continuing on Friday nights through the end of summer, the park's Red Ore Zip Tour will be open after dark, with riders racing through the trees down the mountain slopes.

New protections urged for 5 species in Alabama under Endangered Species Act | al.com

New protections urged for 5 species in Alabama under Endangered Species Act | al.com:
By Thomas Spencer
The iconic giant of Southeastern rivers, the alligator snapping turtle, is among 53 reptiles and amphibians that should be considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to a petition filed Wednesday by the environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity.
In addition to the alligator snapping turtle, the center's petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service includes four other species known to occur in Alabama: the green salamander, which is found in the crevices of rock formations along the Appalachian mountains, and three species associated with the longleaf pine forests of south Alabama: the Southern hog-nosed snake, the Florida pine snake and the Carolina gopher frog.
Read more:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Birmingham mass-transit job access ranks 90th out of 100 metro areas | al.com

Birmingham mass-transit job access ranks 90th out of 100 metro areas | al.com: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham ranks No. 90 out of 100 U.S. cities when it comes to connecting employers with potential workers by mass transit, according to a new analysis by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.

Wreck found in Delta not the Clotilda, the last American slave ship | AL.com

It was a good story and a worthy quest. Which will continue. Wreck found in Delta not the Clotilda, the last American slave ship | AL.com ...