2 months ago

Two rare plant species discovered at Alabama’s Oak Mountain State Park

When Noah Yawn headed out for Oak Mountain State Park in October 2020, he was planning to take part in a survey for a tree found only in Alabama. What he didn’t expect was to also stumble upon a sizable population of another rare plant species – the Georgia Aster.

The survey was part of an ongoing effort of the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance (APCA) to better understand the range and natural history of the Alabama Sandstone Oak, a tree only found in six north-central Alabama counties.

Yawn, an undergraduate student assistant in conservation and botany studies at Auburn University, was looking for the rare oak when he first spotted the asters through what he calls “drive-by botany.”

“Driving through the park at 25 miles per hour with my windows down is how I unintentionally discovered the park’s roadside populations of the aster,” Yawn said. “I estimate there are approximately 500-1,000 individual flowering stems at the documented roadside sites. These sites are scattered over 1 to 2 miles along Terrace Drive.”

Often considered the Southeast’s largest, prettiest and most purple aster species, this distinctive plant can grow to more than 3 feet tall and features a large flower head encircled with deep purple to lavender petals. Once found in woodlands and Piedmont prairies throughout the Southeast, the Georgia Aster is currently only found in a few counties in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

In recent years, a multi-state/multi-organization agreement was developed to provide a framework for the conservation and management of Georgia Aster throughout its range. The goal of the agreement is to conserve and improve current populations and keep the aster from being federally listed as an endangered species.

“Even the smallest preserved natural areas, including roadsides, can protect extremely valuable and imperiled species,” Yawn said. “The Georgia Aster at Oak Mountain State Park represents some of the only populations in Alabama that are protected on state lands, making this all the more exciting.”

Located just south of Birmingham, Oak Mountain is Alabama’s largest state park at 9,940 acres. The park’s size and the varied nature of its Ridge and Valley habitat is partly responsible for the high level of biodiversity found at Oak Mountain.

Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), said these discoveries highlight the importance of public lands, including our State Parks, to the conservation of rare plant and animal species.

“Alabama’s State Parks, Forever Wild tracts, Wildlife Management Areas and other state lands play a vital role in conserving important habitat for some plants and animals found nowhere else in the world,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “These locations ensure the public can continue to enjoy the rich diversity of Alabama’s landscape for generations to come.”

While finding the Georgia Aster at Oak Mountain was a pleasant surprise, the main focus of the survey was to document the Alabama Sandstone Oak within the park. Like the Georgia Aster, this oak is very vulnerable because of its small population numbers and its narrow habitat preference.

The Alabama Sandstone Oak is a very long-lived and slow-growing plant. The trees discovered at Oak Mountain State Park could be older than the nearby city of Birmingham itself.

Core samples taken from Alabama Sandstone Oaks found at the Forever Wild Hinds Road Outcrop in Etowah County indicated an average age of less than 100 years for the aboveground tree stems. As the tree grows, its below-ground stems creep along, spreading under the surface of the soil, creating clones of its aboveground stems. Since the root system is the oldest part of the tree, age estimates of the aboveground stems may not accurately reflect the actual age of the individual trees.

In addition to documenting the existence of the rare oaks in the state park, the survey team also found a 90-foot by 60-foot collection of stems that appears to be a single clonal individual tree. Clonal growth usually occurs at a rate of about an inch or two per year for this species. If this collection of trees is a single individual, it could have taken centuries for it to grow to this enormous size in a low-nutrient environment like the rocky ridges of Oak Mountain.

Patrick Thompson, Curator of the Auburn University Davis Arboretum and APCA Coordinator, was first made aware of the trees at Oak Mountain by David Frings, former director of the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center.

“The survey project was an effort to document the extent of the Alabama Sandstone Oak population at the park and to collect acorns,” Thompson said. “It was led by Tracy Cook from the Huntsville Botanical Garden and funded by the U.S. Forest Service and the Association of the Public Gardens of America. This survey is part of an ongoing effort to increase knowledge of the species range and natural history, and to secure the species in the wild and in safeguarding collections nationwide.”

The acorns collected at Oak Mountain State Park were sent to the Huntsville Botanical Garden, Auburn University’s Davis Arboretum, the National Arboretum, the Morton Arboretum in Illinois, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. They will be stored in those locations and potentially used to grow more trees in an effort to conserve the species.

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the Georgia Asters at Oak Mountain State Park, flowering occurs October through mid-November. Look for the relatively tall green stems topped with deep purple and lavender petals along Terrace Drive.

For directions to Oak Mountain State Park, visit www.alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park.

For more information about the Alabama Sandstone Oak or Georgia Aster, contact Patrick Thompson at the Auburn University Davis Arboretum by calling (334) 332-0283.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.

4 hours ago

Huntsville City Schools will go on with its vaccination clinic for minors without parental consent

Americans have been bombarded with requests, pleas, shaming and excoriations about how you must get vaccinated.

I bought in, and I think I may have even jumped the line accidentally. I also have a three-year-old, and I don’t envision a scenario where I rush him out to get a vaccine. If he were 14, 18 or 24, I wouldn’t pressure him to get vaccinated. If he were over 18, what could I do?

But if he were 14? That’s a no from me.

Schools in Alabama disagree, and at least one school system doesn’t care what you think.

Madison, Birmingham and Huntsville schools have all taken up the task of vaccinating your kids even though doctors, pharmacies and Wal-Mart have vaccines readily available.

403

In the coverage of the Huntsville vaccinations, the Alabama Media Group article specifically states that Huntsville City Schools will not require parental consent for those over 14.

Students under 14 must have a parent or guardian accompany them for the vaccine, according to the announcement on the Huntsville schools website. Everyone receiving the vaccine must present a legal form of identification including a driver’s license, passport, non-drivers ID, or a birth certificate. Participants must sign a consent form prior to receiving the vaccine and must register online in advance to receive the vaccine.

To put it simply — your 14-year-old can decide to take an experimental vaccine without your knowledge.

This is a betrayal of parents by Alabama schools.

They don’t care.

Keep in mind that this is happening as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking at the impact of the vaccine on young people.

Even the World Health Organization thinks this is a bad idea.

Some Alabama lawmakers are taking note.

State Senator Sam Givhan appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and suggested the school systems should hit pause.

Explaining that just vaccinating everyone who shows up without parental consent is just a bad practice, Givhan said, “They don’t have everyone’s full medical history, and they don’t know the unique situations from certain kids. … And I just don’t think the high school should be giving these shots when, you know, you could actually cause someone to have medical problems from this, and then they’ll hide behind their state immunity shield and say you can’t sue them.”

Obviously, it is entirely possible that no children have been vaccinated without parental consent, but how would we know?

Huntsville City Schools seems hell-bent on continuing this. Attempts to speak to the school board we unsuccessful.

The board said in a statement, “We appreciate the invitation. Please see the information below surrounding the vaccine clinic. We have nothing more to add at this time.”

The gist is this: “Sorry, not sorry. We will vaccinate your kids without your permission. What are you going to do about it?”

The answer is people with means are going to either change these schools or flee American schools more than they already have.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

6 hours ago

Guest opinion: ‘For the People Act’ was always a bad idea

For months, we have been inundated with stories of a federal proposal named by the Democrat Party as the “For the People Act.” Upon closer examination of this mammoth piece of legislation, it should be renamed the “From the People Act” because this legislation clearly seeks to take the election process out of the hands of the American people. As a former probate judge, I see this for what it is – a federal attempt to take over our elections in violation of the United States Constitution.

The number of things wrong with this “Act” could fill a novel, but the most troubling aspects of this historical attempt to alter our elections and change the fabric of our nation include:

294

Automatic voter registration — The bill mandates that individuals who have interaction with certain government offices would be automatically registered to vote, but there is no mandate in the bill to only limit that registration to American citizens with the right to vote. Therefore, an individual who goes to the DMV for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote, even if a felony has eliminated their right to vote or if they are not a citizen of the United States. The same holds true for those interacting with other government offices for assistance with a variety of services. Democrats argue that is not the intent of the provision but still refuse to establish any voter eligibility verification requirements in their proposal.

Funding of political campaigns — This act would divert money collected from fines of corporations from the nation’s general budget to a fund that would be specifically earmarked for the funding of political campaigns. This newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund” will serve as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs of political candidates. The idea that this bill increases funding for political campaigns from our government’s coffers is sickening. Our government has a gargantuan debt but this bill seeks to collect fines and, rather, than devote them to paying down that debt, diverts them to the accounts of political candidates. Absolutely mindboggling.

The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it will rear its ugly head again. “We the People” must remain aware of attempts, such as these, to undermine our Democracy and we must oppose such measures at every turn.

Wes Allen currently represents Pike and Dale Counties in the State House of Representatives.

10 hours ago

Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions has added Joia M. Johnson to its board of directors, according to a release from the company.

Johnson will serve on the boards of Regions Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Regions Bank, beginning on July 20.

She arrives at her new responsibilities having recently retired as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Hanesbrands Inc., a leading apparel manufacturer and marketer.

Charles McCrary, chairman of the Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank Boards, believes Johnson’s experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

“Joia’s leadership experience, both at the corporate level and in various board roles, will add greater depth and insights to the Regions Board of Directors as we advance policies and strategies to benefit our customers, associates, communities, and shareholders,” McCrary explained.

253

Johnson added that she sees that experience as an asset in assisting the company achieve its vision for growth.

“I believe the breadth of my corporate experience and civic engagement will complement the additional experience and skills reflected throughout Regions’ current directors,” she stated. “As the company focuses not just on continuous improvement but also on long-term, sustainable growth, I am thrilled to become a part of building on Regions’ history of success – while also defining a very bright future for the organization and the people and communities we serve.”

McCrary also noted the alignment between Johnson’s unique skill set and the company’s mission.

“The Regions mission is to make life better for the people we serve, and we accomplish that mission by creating shared value for all of our stakeholders,” he remarked. “With her passion for strong governance and strategic community engagement, Joia will help us build on our progress and reach new heights in the years to come.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Johnson earned a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Johnson’s financial services experience includes on the board of Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 500 payments technology company and eight years as a board member for Crawford & Company, which specializes in insurance claims administration.

Upon her installment, Johnson will serve on Regions’ 13-member board which will consist of 12 independent outside directors.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

10 hours ago

State Rep. Oliver: Combatting Critical Race Theory in Alabama is ‘the way we stand up to woke-ism’

Republicans have made taking on so-called Critical Race Theory a priority in recent weeks claiming such philosophies are an effort to undermine cultural norms and indoctrinate in a way that benefits the Democratic Party.

Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the theory from their public school classrooms. Many would like to see Alabama follow suit, and there have been bills filed for the legislature’s 2022 regular session to do as much. One of those bills is being brought by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), who takes it beyond the classroom and applies restrictions throughout state government.

Oliver discussed the bill during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5.

290

“[I]’ve got a bill that’s fairly unique, and we expect it to go through the state government committee,” he said. “My bill actually covers any state agency, its contractors and subcontractors, to include schools. We felt like it was important to address this issue with a holistic approach.”

“The first thing is deciding what you don’t want taught,” Oliver continued. “That’s the most important piece. And I would like to say, this bill, it absolutely describes what we don’t want taught — it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach inclusion or diversity. It means you can’t teach some things as fact and then we’re not going to teach our kids that one sex or race is better than another. And in a nutshell, that is the crux of it.”

The Tallapoosa County lawmaker said his effort could serve as a bulwark against a creeping effort to indoctrinate.

“[I]t’s the way we stand up to woke-ism,” Oliver declared. “If we’re ever going to draw a line in the sand, Critical Race Theory is it. I say that not because I’m the smartest guy in the world or this is something I’ve thought all my life, but I’ve got a child that goes to a major university in the state. And I am absolutely appalled by what I’ve witnessed there the last three years with my child. If you don’t think universities are indoctrinating your kids, everybody needs to wake up.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

11 hours ago

Manufacture Alabama backs Ainsworth for reelection

As Alabama maintains its status among the top states in the nation for manufacturing, the industry’s dedicated trade association has made its choice for lieutenant governor.

Manufacture Alabama has given its full support to Will Ainsworth in his bid for reelection to the office, according to a release from the group.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, cited Ainsworth’s background in manufacturing and knowledge of its key issues in announcing the endorsement.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth for reelection due to his commitment to maintaining a business-friendly environment in Alabama,” Clark said. “Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth grew up in the manufacturing industry and understands firsthand that our members are the backbone of the state and nation’s economy. He is a friend to our association and a tireless advocate for manufacturers across Alabama. In his leadership role, it is clear that he is dedicated to serving his home state with enthusiasm and integrity. We are proud to give him our full endorsement for the reelection of Lieutenant Governor.”

191

Ainsworth, who has now picked up a string of endorsements from trade associations, believes the state’s successes in manufacturing are something that can continue.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Manufacture Alabama,” he stated. “Our tremendous manufacturers are sources of good-paying 21st century jobs for hardworking Alabamians, and the goods and materials they produce are integral across a broad range of sectors. Alabama is open for business, and I’m firmly committed to making our state the workforce engine of the Southeast so we can continue to grow jobs through expansion and recruitment. Working together, I am confident we will build an even stronger Alabama for our children and our children’s children.”

The manufacturing industry employs more than 250,000 people in Alabama, a figure which makes up a double-digit percentage of the state’s workforce.

Ainsworth announced his reelection campaign earlier this month.

Since that time, he has received the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: Huntsville preferred location for Space Command ‘based on merit and based on policies’

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia