5 months ago

Mobile’s Three Mile Creek undergoing dramatic renovation

Once upon a time, a beautiful creek ran through the middle of the city of Mobile. Unfortunately, that creek was neglected during urbanization and the important waterway became an eyesore, not to mention a source of water-quality degradation.

Fortunately, the tide has turned, and the revitalization of the Three Mile Creek watershed has become a priority for a wide variety of citizens, environmental organizations, governmental organizations, the University of South Alabama and the City of Mobile.

Roberta Swann of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) met recently with project partners, including the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), to determine how best to spread the word about the lofty goals of the Three Mile Creek watershed improvement plan.

Those goals include:

Develop 10 miles of continuous greenway and restore natural channels and establish riparian buffers where possible

Determine Total Maximum Daily Loads, which is the maximum amount of a pollutant allowed in a body of water during water quality restoration

Improve the watershed’s water quality standards to “warm water fisheries” status. The current water quality is suitable for agriculture and industry only

Eliminate all known illicit sources of sewage

Reduce the amount of trash in the waterways by 75 percentMaintain flood protection

Install environmental education signage at current parks and proposed parks along the waterway

Control or eradicate invasive flora and fauna where possible

The event that gave all the project partners the impetus to continue occurred in 2011, according to Swann, with the “Clean Up the Bottom” event that invited citizens to help reduce the trash in the watershed.

“We had almost 400 people come out on a cold Saturday morning to help,” Swann said. “Some of the people had historical ties to the area, and about 80 percent of the people who showed up were African Americans.

“There was a lot of excitement. We got into kayaks to clean up One Mile Creek, and we got out into the neighborhoods. People came out onto their porches and asked for bags to help us clean up. It was a great experience frankly.”

With the enthusiasm from the community, MBNEP raised funds to perform a comprehensive watershed management plan. A successful project with the d’Olive Creek watershed in Baldwin County served as a template for the Three Mile Creek plan.

“When we do our watershed planning, it really is community involvement at the local level,” Swann said. “We have 16 community meetings throughout the watershed to find out what was good and bad about the watershed and its biggest challenges.”

The Three Mile Creek watershed plan was published in 2014 with the goal of establishing a trail along the creek from the University of South Alabama to the Mobile River as a key component to reconnect the communities along the waterway.

“What we found out during planning was that people just treated it like a stormwater ditch,” Swann said. “Very few people had any interest in engaging with the creek itself. We felt that was a calling for us to go out into the community and use our watershed plan to educate people on how a watershed functions, first of all, and how the trash aggregates at the bottom of the watershed. I think a key point of education was the trash came from all points along the watershed.”

Swann said the bottom third of the watershed is at sea level and inhabited by mostly low-income residents.

MBNEP enlisted the help of the MLK Redevelopment Corporation to conduct a leadership academy as well as hire a conservation corps of mostly young adults from the area to perform clean-up tasks.

“These were truly urban heroes,” Swann said. “They worked tirelessly. These were people who had never been on a kayak before who were kayaking a mile into the lower reaches of the creek to do invasive species management and trash clean-up. While that was going on, RESTORE grants were being made available. We worked with the City of Mobile to get a grant for the trail.”

Swann said the plan is so much more than the trail. It includes water quality restoration with drainage improvements all along Toulmin Springs Branch, the City of Mobile doing stormwater mapping, and addressing sediment issues in the upper watershed. It also includes opening the historic creek channel for a kayaking loop as well as the acquisition of the wetlands in the area where the creek flows into Mobile River.

“Three Mile Creek runs through the heart of Mobile,” said DCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “It touches so many neighborhoods and a large percentage of the population. Providing outdoor recreational access to all these people right where they live is so important to their quality of life. DCNR is proud to partner with many others to facilitate this restorative effort.”

During a short tour of access points and trail greenways last week, Rick Frederick, MBNEP Community Relations Manager, said the watershed improvements could have a significant impact on Mobile County.

“We want to get people out and show them how this project could revitalize Mobile’s ecotourism,” Frederick said. “This will provide a beautiful urban walkway, hiking, biking trail and canoe/kayak route right through the middle of the city. Once people start using it, they are going to want to take care of it.”

RESTORE funds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement will be used to finish the greenway and trail, to restore Twelve Mile Creek for sediment load reduction, and to dredge Langan Park Lake. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants will be used to restore the historic Three Mile Creek channel.

“MAWSS (Mobile Area Water and Sewer System) has been a fantastic partner,” Swann said. “They have improved the sanitary sewers in the watershed with increased-size trunk lines and constructing a new storage tank. Also, the University of South Alabama has recently completed stormwater mitigation projects in the parking lots and has adopted low environmental impact development throughout the campus.”

Although $10 million has been approved for construction of the trail, Swann said the challenge has been to wait for the RESTORE money to actually materialize.

A kayak launch has been constructed at Tricentennial Park, where the 2019 Creek Fest celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 11. Creek Fest is a family-oriented event with live music, food and kayak rides at the park near Mobile Infirmary Hospital.

The City of Mobile will begin its next segment of trail construction in a few months to go with the mile of track that is already in use. Other projects that will be underway this year include construction on the headwaters of Twelve Mile Creek to Langan Park Lake and Alabama Power working with MBNEP to install rain barrels in the Prichard area to mitigate stormwater runoff.

Swann said when the work is completed, the Mobile area will have a “transformational greenway along Three Mile Creek with a corridor that extends a mile on either side of the creek that brings community together around this environmental gem.”

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

22 mins ago

Ivey to toll detractors: ‘Nobody wants to pay for anything — We just always want the benefits’; Calls for other ‘reasonable solutions’

On Monday, the political battle over the proposed tolling for the new I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge escalated when Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth came out in opposition to the toll. Following in Ainsworth’s footsteps and coming out against the proposal as well was another heavy-hitter, State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh.

Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey, who has insisted on the necessity of the project and warned that “cost of doing nothing” was too high, offered a response to detractors.

Ivey indicated to Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, co-hosts of Birmingham radio Talk 99.5’s “The Matt & Aunie Show,” that a reaction to a toll was to be expected. She also said she would listen to alternatives at the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority meeting scheduled for October 7.

557

“Nobody wants to pay for anything,” she said. “We just always want the benefits. If somebody has got a better idea of what the toll should be or if we should never toll. That’s the reason I’m hosting the October 7 meeting at the State Capitol for the Toll Bridge and Road Authority – so people can put reasonable solutions on the table. How do we pay for the bridge?”

“Everybody would be for not having to have a toll,” Ivey added. “I just haven’t found that option yet. It’s the reason we’re hosting this meeting with state legislators, congressional delegation, constitutional officers have all been invited to come and be specific and offer some reasonable solutions of how we can pay for the bridge without using a toll or a lower toll.”

Earlier this year, the Alabama legislature raised the state’s gas tax, part of the Rebuild Alabama Act. That had some questioning the timing of the toll coming on the heels of a gas tax increase. According to Ivey, gas tax revenue alone would hardly cover the cost of the bridge.

“When we paid the gas tax, we only did 10 cents,” she said. “It’s a lot of money for some folks, but 10 cents only brings in $320 million annually for roads and bridges across the state. The bridge itself costs $2.1 billion … the gas tax is for statewide projects, not just one project.”

When asked about the timing of her awareness of a toll for the project, Ivey did not offer a specific time. However, she did mention a specific each-way price tag of $2.25, which varied from the $6 each-way toll in many reports.

“They’ve been talking about this bridge for 20-something-odd years for the environmental impact,” Ivey said. “I don’t know when exactly I heard the proposal but $2.25 one-way doesn’t seem too unreasonable.”

According to the governor’s office, the $2.25 Ivey cited referred to the average for the frequent user. The $2.25 cost would be the average price for five days a week for four weeks with the purchase of the proposed frequent user pass at a cost of $90 per month. Also, with the proposed pass, crossing the bridge would unlimited, and the $2.25 average could vary depending on how many times a pass holder crosses in a given month.

When asked about the prospects of additional toll projects throughout the state, Ivey told Talk 99.5 she was unaware of any.

“I’m not aware of any, and the toll roads we do have are on private property as far as I know now there are no other plans for a toll road on state or federal highways,” she said.

When asked about those suggesting U.S. Highway 280 in Birmingham or other roads being tolled, Ivey decried it as “misinformation.”

“So much misinformation out there is intentional,” Ivey said. “It’s just unconscionable for folks to be considering such information. It’s easy to verify what you hear before you spout it. I just encourage everybody to look on the big side of prosperity and let’s build the bridge so we can strengthen commerce and strengthen public safety, and keep our state productive.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

7 Things: ‘No tolls’ chorus gains powerful allies, impeachment talks still a thing, Democrats in Alabama keep fighting and more …

7. How romantic

  • Starting on August 29, Alabama will no longer issue marriage licenses. Couples will now just have to submit a notarized marriage certificate that will be recorded by probate judges instead of being issued by probate judges.
  • Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said that this new process means people don’t have to get a license “in advance and a ceremony is no longer required, although couples may certainly have a ceremony if they wish.”

6. No more Moore, please

557

  • The defamation lawsuit filed by Roy Moore against the women who accused him of misconduct has been paused by Circuit Judge Albert Johnson, that is until the defamation lawsuit against Roy Moore filed by Leigh Corfman, one of his accusers, is resolved.
  • While Moore has said that he went to court to clear his name, he hasn’t succeeded yet. He stated, “Nothing that’s happened to me has been fair in court.”

4. Omar and Tlaib show why Israel banned them

  • U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) held a news conference where they spoke about being banned from traveling to Israel, a country that they attempted to start a boycott against, and they have now condemned Israel’s decision which garnered them a rebuke in the form of a condemnation by a member of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee.
  • During Omar’s statement, she referenced how the U.S. gives Israel $3 billion in aid every year, but their action of “denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally.” Omar went on to suggest that Israel is attempting to keep Omar and Tlaib from doing their jobs.

4. Elizabeth Warren and her “white privilege”

  • First, there was a botched DNA rollout that showed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was 1/1024th Native American, now Warren has descended on a gathering of Native Americans to offer a half-hearted apology for lying about her ancestry for decades.
  • There’s a no greater example of what Democrats and their media refer to as “cultural appropriation” as Warren’s use of another race to get ahead, yet anyone who mocks her for it is deemed “racist.”

3. Democrats and Doug Jones keep fighting

  • The Alabama Democratic Party can’t stop their pointless war of words with the most successful Alabama Democrat of the last decade in the run-up to some inner-party battles and U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) unlikely reelection.
  • Jones’ unsuccessful attempt to topple Chairwoman Nancy Worley and the leadership-chosen Alabama Democratic Conference has been called “racial” and brought a threat from the ADC, which warned Jones, “Don’t start what you can’t end.”

2. Impeach Trump fight gets more support

  • Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) has announced his support of impeaching President Trump since “moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable.”
  • Lujan explained his reasoning for supporting impeachment, saying, “Numerous experts have warned that these attacks are ongoing to this day. And when faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has failed to act. Not only has he ignored the warnings that our Democracy is being targeted, but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference.”

1. Seriously, no tolls

  • Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) have joined the growing chorus of anti-toll advocates.
  • Marsh has the most power here and said that he’s going to “explore all legislative options to ensure this project is fair and reasonable for the citizens of South Alabama – and a $6 toll is not fair or reasonable.” Currently, Governor Kay Ivey has a meeting planned for October 7 to discuss the toll bridge with the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

2 hours ago

Alabama Economic Growth Summit to return this October

Telegraph Creative on Tuesday announced it will be hosting the Alabama Economic Growth Summit October 24-25 at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, bringing back the event first held by Yellowhammer Multimedia three years ago.

Alabama Power is the title sponsor for the summit, which will bring together a diverse group of powerful and influential leaders in pursuit of four overall objectives:

405

1. Celebrate Alabama’s economic development successes,
2. Rally the state’s major economic development stakeholders around our common goals of job creation and increased prosperity,
3. Facilitate dialogue on the most important issues facing our economy,
4. Drive massive media coverage around Alabama’s commitment to attracting companies and creating an overall environment that’s conducive to growth.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell, Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and numerous members of Alabama’s congressional delegation will be among the senior federal government officials participating in the program, along with numerous high-ranking state-level officials from both the legislative and executive branches.

From the private sector, conference organizers told Yellowhammer News that CEOs, venture capitalists, site selectors and economic developers from around the state and nation will be among the speakers and panelists.

A major highlight of the summit will be national media personalities, including Axios executive editor Mike Allen, in attendance covering the event and guiding panel discussions.

The event was first held by Yellowhammer in 2016 when Cliff Sims was the company’s CEO. Now president of Telegraph Creative, Sims is bringing the summit back this year.

“When we launched this event in 2016 at Yellowhammer, our goal was to bring together the state’s leaders around our shared goals of more jobs and increased prosperity for all Alabamians,” he explained to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday. “We’re going to continue that mission this year.”

“Alabama’s had some big economic development wins in recent years. This Summit is all about building on that momentum, and we’re thrilled to have buy-in from the state’s key leaders in both the public and private sectors,” Sims added.

Sims will be on the event’s host committee, which also includes Yellowhammer Multimedia publisher Allison Ross and a host of public and private sector titans, such as:

Will Ainsworth
Lieutenant Governor
State of Alabama

Katie Britt
President
Business Council of Alabama

Stephanie Bryan
Tribal Chair and CEO
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Mark Crosswhite
Chairman, President and CEO
Alabama Power

Deontée Gordon
President
TechBirmingham

Johnny Johns
Executive Chairman
Protective Life Corporation

Mike Kemp
President and CEO
Kemp Management Solutions

James K. Lyons
CEO
Alabama State Port Authority

Del Marsh
President Pro Tem
Alabama Senate

Mac McCutcheon
Speaker of the House
Alabama House of Representatives

Jimmy Parnell
CEO
Alfa

Liz Pharo
Managing Partner
Featheringill Capital

Jimmy Rane
President and CEO
Great Southern Wood

Jeana Ross
Secretary
Department of Early Childhood Education

Finis St. John
Chancellor
University of Alabama System

Lee Sentell
Director
Alabama Department of Tourism

Gary Smith
President and CEO
PowerSouth

Fitzgerald Washington
Commissioner
Alabama Department of Labor

A complete list of keynote speakers, panelists and VIP guests will be announced in the coming days. Tickets to the event are available now online here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Jones keynoting event highlighting opportunities for Alabama-Israel tech partnerships

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Tuesday will keynote an event entitled “Opportunities for Technology Partnerships Between Alabama and Israeli Businesses” in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Business Alliance, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector, the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation and Alabama Power Company are hosting the event, which will include an overview of Israel’s technology ecosystem and the BIRD Foundation, as well as a panel of business leaders on doing business in Israel.

The event is free but does require online registration.

According to Conexx’s Barry Swartz, Israel is home to more startups than the entire European Union and is second only to the Silicon Valley in terms of the volume of startups it produces.

127

Technology like Waze, a GPS navigation software app now owned by Google, and Mobileye, which was purchased by Intel for $15.3 billion in 2017, were created in Israel. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others all have a major presence in the country.

Swartz added that there will be individuals on hand to facilitate a relationship between Israel and Alabama companies looking to explore Israel’s innovation and technology, as well as possible mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances.

Jones is set to speak at 3:30 p.m., with the entire event running from 12:30 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. at Alabama Power’s headquarters building in downtown Birmingham.

RELATED: Sloss Tech is evidence of Birmingham’s vibrant innovation economy

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

ULA’s Alabama-built Vulcan Centaur rocket chosen for 2021 Moon mission

Astrobotic on Monday announced that it has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2021.

This is slated to be the Vulcan Centaur’s first launch, with development and assembly on schedule at ULA’s world-class Decatur facility.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton in a statement said the planned 2021 launch will be “a historic day for the country,” powered by the ‘Made in Alabama’ rocket.

405

“We are so excited to sign with ULA and fly Peregrine on Vulcan Centaur,” Thornton said. “This contract with ULA was the result of a highly competitive commercial process, and we are grateful to everyone involved in helping us make low-cost lunar transportation possible.”

“When we launch the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo, onboard the first Vulcan Centaur rocket, it will be a historic day for the country and commercial enterprise,” he concluded.

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

“Our rockets have carried exploration missions to the moon, the sun and every planet in the solar system so it is only fitting that Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural flight will lead the return of Americans to the lunar surface,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, emphasized. “We could not be more excited to fly this mission for Astrobotic.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), a champion of American space exploration and Alabama’s aerospace industry, celebrated the announcement in a tweet.

The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process for the Vulcan Centaur. The company recently submitted its proposal for Phase II of the Launch Service Procurement’ competition.

Bruno said ULA’s partnership with Astrobotic is indicative of how the American space industry is excelling, with Alabama playing an integral role.

“This partnership represents a true ‘whole-of-government’ approach to how our nation is leading the world in space: NASA contracted with a commercial company to land on the moon, who then went on to contract with a commercial company for a rocket built to serve the national security space market,” Bruno advised.

He concluded, “This highlights the power of our American system of partnership between government and industry to solve the toughest problems and the greatest of our human aspirations.”

RELATED: ULA chosen for six missions, lauded for ‘proven safety record and on-time performance’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn