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South Alabama conservation group changes name

One of south Alabama’s oldest conservation groups has changed its name.

Weeks Bay Foundation is now South Alabama Land Trust (SALT). Diana Brewer, Development and Communications coordinator for SALT, said planning the name change began two years ago when the board decided the old name did not accurately reflect the organization’s growing geographic concerns for the land and water it protects.

“At the end of 2018 our board voted in favor of the name change,” Brewer said. “We started out 30 years ago protecting land for the Weeks Bay Reserve but we now protect lands in Mobile County, on Dauphin Island and we’re working on some in Stockton. Realizing that all of the tributaries, the rivers, the delta and the bays all eventually make their way into Mobile Bay or the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve got to work to get more people involved in protecting the land.”

South Alabama Land Trust committed to protecting coastlines from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Brewer said the board wanted the words “land trust” in the new name despite the scarcity of land trusts in this part of the country.

“We’ve been an accredited land trust since 2009, but a lot of the people in this part of the country don’t have a lot of experience with land trusts,” Brewer said. “If you go out west, there’s land trusts all over the place. The same thing in North Carolina. But here land trusts are sort of an unknown in people’s everyday vernacular, so we decided we wanted to have ‘land trust’ in it, realizing that it would be an educational process to help people understand what a land trust is. Because we had our 30-year history, we felt we would be able to do that because we’re still the same organization.”

As a land trust, SALT works with landowners to protect water quality in creeks, rivers and bays, and the habitat for native and, sometimes-rare plant and wildlife species. Brewer said SALT does that by acquiring land through purchases, donations and conservation easement agreements with private and public landowners.

“We protect the land around the edges of the waterways,” Brewer said. “If we don’t protect that, erosion happens. Wetlands absorb stormwater and they protect dry land from flooding and storm surge. It can be so much worse if it’s all bare land or if the land is allowed to erode. We have to do what we can. We have to maintain the habitats.”

SALT now protects more than 9,500 miles of coastline in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Going forward Brewer said the group wants to acquire more land, as well as work more closely with developers, municipalities and private landowners to implement more living shorelines.

“If we don’t protect it, the landscape will be completely different,” Brewer said. “What we hope for in 50 years is that our children’s children’s children can look out and see the same landscape that we see today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)