2 weeks ago

Nearly $26M of Fish and Wildlife grants coming to Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Governor Kay Ivey announced Thursday that $25,970,000 million worth of projects on Alabama’s coastline have been funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

The projects, which include a major investment in Dauphin Island and a headwaters restoration of Bon Secour River, were developed in partnership with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).

“These projects represent a continuation of Alabama’s coastal recovery from the 2010 BP Oil Spill. They will restore some of what was damaged, while at the same time making our coastal communities more resilient,” remarked Ivey in a statement.

The largest of the investments announced Thursday is worth $19,970,000 and will go towards restoring habitat around the Dauphin Island Causeway.

“[T]he Dauphin Island Causeway project is an example of multiple agencies working together to restore Alabama coastal habitat and at the same time create resiliency in our coastal community. Mobile County, with support from Mobile Bay NEP, is doing an excellent job leading this project,” stated ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship in a release.

All projects in Alabama are being funded out of the NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), a pool of money created by BP as recompense for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The NFWF was created by Congress but exists as an independent charity that seeks to enhance and protect the availability of America’s outdoor environments. It is governed by a 30-member board of directors appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Alabama has now received GEBF support for 38 projects worth nearly $241 million. All projects granted through the GEBF have been selected after extensive work done by the ADCNR.

Blankenship added Thursday that his department was “pleased and excited with this team effort making the most of this opportunity to protect and manage Alabama’s natural resources. We are appreciative of the work to implement all these valuable projects for the betterment of Coastal Alabama.”

“I thank our partners at NFWF and ADCNR for their continued diligence in leading this effort,” Ivey concluded.

The full list of projects, per the governor’s office:

Bon Secour River Headwaters Restoration – Phase II, $5,100,000
This award supports the implementation phase of an effort to improve approximately one mile of streambank and construct a 70-acre wetland system designed to treat urban runoff that is adversely affecting downstream fisheries. The constructed wetlands will address nutrient, sediment and debris flow to improve water quality in the lower Bon Secour River and Bon Secour Bay. This section of the Bon Secour River encompasses major headwaters and the main channel of the Bon Secour River immediately downstream from the City of Foley.

This project addresses the top priority identified in the previously funded Bon Secour Watershed Management Plan. Specifically, the plan identifies the need to address urban runoff from the City of Foley as one of the top priority activities for restoring watershed health.

Wolf Creek Headwaters Restoration – Phase I, $500,000
This project will complete the engineering and design phase of a project to improve water quality within the Wolf Creek headwaters. This project area is the largest source of artificially high sediment runoff to Wolf Bay, an Outstanding Alabama Water. The project would consist of approximately 7,000 linear feet of stream restoration/stabilization, 36 acres of riparian wetland restoration, and a constructed wetland with floodplain enhancement encompassing the major headwaters of Wolf Creek. The headwaters restoration, stabilization, floodplain and wetland enhancement will reduce pollutant and stormwater impacts to Wolf Bay from increased stormwater runoff that is the result of rapid development of the City of Foley over the past two decades. Increased floodplain functionality during storm events will facilitate improved hydrologic function and prevent the harmful effects of future erosion within the watershed.

Dauphin Island East End Beach and Dune Restoration – $1,400,000
This project will complete engineering, design, and permitting for the restoration of nearly a mile of beach and dune habitat on the east end of Dauphin Island, a 14-mile long barrier island off the coast of Mobile County. The initial project concept is to place an estimated 1.2 million cubic yards of sand along 4,800 feet of shoreline to restore 35 acres of beach and dune habitat. Additional measures, such as planting and sand fencing, would be included as appropriate to assist in retaining sand on the restored beach and dune system. In 2016, the Town completed the first phase of this priority beach restoration project using Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds.

Dauphin Island Causeway Shoreline and Habitat Restoration Project – Phase II, $18,970,000
This project will design and install breakwater and create intertidal marsh habitat while providing protection against future erosion and storm damage. In April 2020, Phase I of this project, a $9,392,000 award, was funded award under GEBF to create and protect important coastal habitat, reducing vulnerability of the only access route between south Mobile County and Dauphin Island. Project activities will be co-funded through NFWF’s Emergency Coastal Resilience Fund which was funded under the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-20), allowing grants to be awarded through a partnership between NFWF and NOAA. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) was instrumental in the passage of this critical funding legislation.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

Ivey lights official state Christmas tree – ‘Merry Christmas to each of you’

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday took part in the traditional annual lighting of the official State of Alabama Christmas Tree located on the steps of the capitol.

“Let this be a year you do a little bit more, and give a little bit more,” said Governor Ivey to those assembled.

“Merry Christmas to each of you and to all families across Alabama,” she added.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed introduced Ivey at the ceremony and praised her “steady leadership” during a tumultuous year. Ivey later thanked him for his “dedicated leadership” of Alabama’s capital city.

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Around 200 citizens braved temperatures in the mid-40s to take in the lighting ceremony. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, masks were required for attendance at the ceremony.

“I’m incredibly grateful we’re able to safely keep this Christmas tradition alive,” Ivey said of the circumstances.

Alabama’s 2020 tree was donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr. of Lowndes County. The Eastern Red Cedar is 35 feet tall and required a crew from the Alabama Department of Transportation for its installation.

Major General David J. Francis, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, reminded the crowd in attendance that the Christmas standard “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was written from the perspective of a soldier forced to be away from home during World War II.

“This is a great reminder to remember all our service members, including the members of the greatest generation, the deployed members who will not be with their loved ones this holiday season, and the many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” Francis added.

“Christmas is a direct reminder of the hope we find in Jesus Christ,” mentioned the governor, who makes her Christian faith a mainstay of her public persona.

“Through the birth of a baby boy over two thousand years ago, we can find salvation, peace, and purpose in our lives,” Ivey continued.

“For many of us, including myself, that hope and faith has been what has guided us through these difficult challenges of 2020,” she told the public.

“May God continue to bless our state,” the governor concluded.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

7 hours ago

Palmer: Pelosi, Democrats prioritize pot legalization over COVID-19 relief

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) raised eyebrows this week by calling the House of Representatives into session and pushing through votes on legislation that would legalize marijuana and ban private ownership of exotic animals — known as the “Tiger King” bill.

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) released a scathing statement on Friday decrying Pelosi’s prioritization of these bills over much-needed COVID-19 relief for the American people.

“Speaker Pelosi and her clueless Democrat colleagues have proven over and over again that their top priorities do not include the hardworking Americans who need help to get through this pandemic,” Palmer said.

“This week, their prioritization of pot legalization while people are struggling is a stunning display of partisan politics and shows just how out of touch Democrats are with the American people,” he continued. “The timing of this bill not only reflects a disregard for the businesses that need further relief funding, but also for the rampant mental health and drug overdose issues exacerbated by the pandemic.”

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Entitled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), the marijuana legalization passed the House on Friday by a vote of 228-164. The only Alabama representative to support the measure was Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07), a Democrat.

“Federal surveys show that since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., depression and anxiety have been on the rise, with a concerning 75% of young adults now struggling with at least one mental health or drug problem,” Palmer explained. “The Center for Disease Control has also predicted that the U.S. could see 75,500 drug overdose deaths in 2020 if recent trends hold. Pelosi’s pot bill is even more unconscionable with these concerning facts in mind, especially as it ignores common sense safety measures around marijuana use, and also funnels taxpayer dollars to the marijuana industry and convicted drug dealers. In short, the bill would grant easier access to a gateway drug for already vulnerable and struggling people.”

The Central Alabama congressman concluded, “Furthermore, at a time when we should be helping people with employment opportunities, this bill would move us in the wrong direction. Companies with drug-free work environments, many of them also hazardous work environments, should not and will not employ people who might come to work drug-impaired, endangering themselves and others. I hope we don’t waste more opportunities next week for needed relief.”

Palmer, as the chair of the Republican Policy Committee, is the fifth-highest ranking member of the House GOP.

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

7 hours ago

WWII vet finishes fight with COVID-19, turns 104 the next day

A World War II veteran in Alabama was released from the hospital this week after a battle with the coronavirus. He turned 104 years old on his first day back home.

Major Wooten, the veteran in question, has become something of a minor celebrity in recent years for his joyful approach to life at his advanced age.

Wooten turned heads in recent years during his trip to Normandy to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Similar lines cheered his return to the airport and his exit from the hospital earlier this week.

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An ardent Alabama fan, Wooten again made headlines earlier this year when Nick Saban gave him a call after a health scare in the spring.

RELATED: Nick Saban surprises 103-year-old WWII veteran with Facetime call

Wooten is from Cullman and was cared for at Madison Hospital during his fight with COVID-19.

His exit from the hospital has garnered attention across the nation, with the Associated Press publishing a widely circulated story and ABC’s World News Tonight featuring Wooten in a segment.

Watch employees of Madison Hospital sing Happy Birthday to Major Wooten:

 

Major Wooten turns 104!

Mr. Major Lee Wooten won his battle with COVID-19 in time to be home to celebrate his 104th birthday. Mr. Wooten, who is a veteran and warmly known as “Pop Pop,” is described by his granddaughter as “their family’s treasure.” Please join us in wishing Mr. Wooten a very, happy birthday!

Posted by Madison Hospital on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

8 hours ago

Alabama receives over $50M from Dept. of Interior for energy produced in state

The State of Alabama is receiving $50.29 million from the federal government as a disbursement for energy that was produced in a federally owned area of the state.

Alabama’s funds come as part of a $1.81 billion payout to 34 states announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt on Friday.

The revenue sent to states Friday “was collected from oil, gas and mineral production on federal lands within the states’ borders and from offshore oil and gas tracts in federal waters adjacent to their shores,” according to a release from the department.

Virtually all of Alabama’s portion of the money was generated by offshore drilling, per the data available on an Interior Department web portal.

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Alabama’s payment was ninth highest in the nation. New Mexico took the top spot with $706.96 million followed by Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota, Colorado, Utah and Mississippi.

American Indian Tribes received $1 billion as part of the process; 100% of the revenue from the energy generated on their lands.

“[T]hese disbursements also go right back to the states and Tribes where the energy was produced, providing critical funding for schools, public services, conservation improvements and infrastructure projects that create good-paying American jobs,” said Bernhardt on Friday.

The over $50 million announced as on its way to Alabama on Friday is the state’s total for fiscal year 2020 that ended September 30. It is the largest amount the state has received under the disbursement policy in the last decade.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

10 hours ago

Aderholt tests positive for COVID-19, is asymptomatic

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Friday announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19 but is displaying no symptoms.

Aderholt originally went into quarantine on November 15 after learning he had been in close contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Right after completing his 10-day quarantine period, Aderholt’s wife, Caroline, tested positive and he once again went into quarantine.

Under new CDC guidelines that allow for a seven-day quarantine if followed by a negative test result, Aderholt on Thursday received a COVID-19 test to ascertain if he could exit quarantine and resume voting on the House floor.

“I fully expected to receive a negative test, because I have felt, and continue to feel fine, and have no symptoms. Unfortunately, I received word Friday morning that my test came back positive. After speaking with the Attending Physician for Congress, I will continue to isolate,” he advised in a statement.

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Aderholt also said that his wife has recovered from the virus after experiencing mild symptoms.

During his original quarantine, Aderholt had isolated himself away from his wife and the rest of his family.

The dean of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation, Aderholt is a senior member of the Committee on Appropriations, including serving as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science and as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee and the Defense Subcommittee.

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