River Voice – November

Autumn carries more gold in its pockets than all the other seasons – Jim Bishop

As I write this article, the leaves have not yet changed to their glorious colors of red and gold. It was a strange late summer season, without much rain. To say it was dry, is an understatement. According to the Alabama Climate Report, DeKalb County (and much of the state) is in an “abnormally dry to moderate” drought. Some parts of the state are in a severe to extreme drought, specifically the city of Birmingham and areas that we share major river systems with (Georgia and Florida). Can we as citizens, prevent drought? In small ways yes, our actions, no matter how small make a difference. We conserve water during dry seasons. We let our lawns go dormant, take shorter showers and don’t wash our cars. But what about the bigger picture? How do states maintain safe streamflow conditions? Our rivers provide us with drinking water, means to swim, hunt, fish and enjoy nature.  Our waterways are recognized around the world by the scientific community for their unique ecological significance. Alabama’s water resources are also essential for our farming, manufacturing, and navigation industries. A water management plan will make sure these waters are managed and protected so there is enough clean water for everyone. Did you know the state of Alabama has been in a “Water War” for nearly three decades with our neighbors in Georgia and Florida? The state seemed to be making headway on statewide comprehensive water policy during the Bentley administration, mainly due to our friends at the Alabama Rivers Alliance  advocating to protect the integrity of our natural resources. Finally, a working group made up of several State Conservation and Natural Resource agencies was formed. After several months of public input, data assessments and focus panel discussions, the working group drafted a plan and it was on the Governor’s desk.  Fast forward three years later with a new administration and we are back at square zero. The work of several years of intense study and conversation was deemed unnecessary by Governor Ivey, and the working group was dismantled. So in short, Alabama has no law in place that limits what industry or bordering states withdraw from our river systems making it next to impossible to regulate. We need a system in place that accounts for and allocates the states water resources. It will take citizen’s like you to write to Governor Kay Ivey and your State Representatives saying Alabama water needs to develop a sustainable water plan that will meet our long term needs. You can read the Alabama Water Agenda on the Alabama Rivers Alliance website and find out how to take action on this important issue. 

Designating Little River as a National Wild & Scenic River 

The unique Little River flows down the middle of Lookout Mountain, here in northeast Alabama. It is the only river in North America flowing on top of a mountain, carving out one of the Southeast’s deepest canyons. It winds from its headwaters in Georgia to the Coosa River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. Community members and tourists from all over the world fish, paddle, camp, and enjoy the Little River. As many as 500,000 people visit the area every year contributing around $12,000,000 to the local economy. Little River Waterkeeper is working with our partners at the Alabama Rivers in the campaign and with your support, this designation will become a success! We are currently engaging in the petition process and have received a tremendous response from everyone we speak to. Over 300 individuals and businesses have signed the petition to support Little River being added to the list of National Wild & Scenic Rivers.

Why Designate?

  • There are around 230 Wild & Scenic rivers in the country. There’s only ONE in Alabama.
  • Designation increases PROPERTY VALUES near the river.
  • Designation gives local businesses a COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE to appeal to tourists.
  • Designation leads to recreation and use of the river. This creates JOBS AND INCOME REVENUE.
  • Designation increases TOURISM. Tourists’ spending as calculated by the National Park Service.   

If you are a citizen who cares about the natural beauty of the state, a small business that would benefit, or an organization advocating for better water conditions, you can show us your support by going online at https://keeplittleriverwild.org/ to sign our petition! Also, we want stories! Send us your best stories about Little River and help us create a compelling campaign. Email your stories to angie@littleriverwaterkeeper.org or mail to 215 Grand Ave. SW Ste. A Fort Payne, AL 35967.

Southern Exposure Film, Something About Little River is an informative short film that was beautifully directed and produced by emerging filmmaker and fellow Alabamian, Jeb Brackner. Jeb grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and would visit Mentone with his parents for the Audubon Society’s annual workshop at Camp Alpine. Choosing Little River as a film topic for the Wild & Scenic Campaign was a natural fit for Jeb. Little River Waterkeeper to Jeb and his crew to explore parts of Little River that only locals get to see. He was able to get a great sense of why this river system is special to so many people, near and far. The film tells the story about why Little River should be included in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. You can access, “Something About Little River”, along with the rest of the 2019 Southern Exposure Films at https://www.southernexposurefilms.org/. Please take action on the films that inspire you. Film is advocacy in action and we need people who care to help us advocate for Alabama and its amazing biodiversity. 

WAYS TO SUPPORT! Little River Waterkeeper Events 
Friday, November 1st – Halloween Party with The Locals – RoadsideQue – 5pm-8pmNothing is better than live music by The Locals and seeing Justin dressed up as Bob Ross. Wear your costume and support a great cause! A portion of all beer and food sales will go toward the Little River Waterkeeper Wild & Scenic Campaign 

Friday, November 15th – Pint Night @ Mentone Market – From 4pm-8pm Mentone Market will donate a portion of all beer and food sales to support the Little River Waterkeeper Wild & Scenic Campaign.

Saturday November 23 – Party On The Porch – RoadsideQue – 5pm-8pmCome out for live music by Brant Noogin & Lee Burt, Cornhole, Craft Beers and Dinner Specials! A portion of all beer and food sales will go toward the Little River Waterkeeper Wild & Scenic Campaign.