There was nothing more rewarding than watching these students grow into promising environmental stewards by making changes in their own lives, encouraging their family and friends to make better choices, and pursuing environmental studies and careers. With so many achievements being conquered this past year with Mobile Baykeeper’s Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program, we hope SWAMP becomes even more successful and inspiring for years to come.
We recently submitted comments to the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) regarding the application to fill nearly five (5) acres of wetlands in the Dog River Watershed to expand a housing development.
We have significant concerns with the amount of wetlands proposed to be filled in the Dog River Watershed, a predominantly developed watershed, that faces constant threats from flooding, shoreline erosion, storm surge, stormwater runoff, and other water quality issues.
You can write your own letter here or by scrolling to the end of this blog post. You will also find a copy of Mobile Baykeeper's comments included at the bottom of this page.
Why is this important?
Dog River is a vital resource in Coastal Alabama for many reasons. It is home to both full-time residents and visitors. Its local restaurants serve fresh, delicious seafood that come straight from the river. It serves as a favorite pastime for many families who spend their days swimming, fishing, boating, and playing on the river. The river plays a crucial role to the health and well-being of our community, environment, and economy. For these reasons we have concerns about filling these wetlands.
What has been done?
The Dog River Watershed Management Plan (DRWMP) was recently published by Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. This plan uses scientific analysis and input from all types of stakeholders, residents, businesses, MAWSS, environmental organizations (including Dog River Clearwater Revival and Mobile Baykeeper) and others within the Dog River Watershed to show the issues impacting the watershed. It also provides clear strategies to reduce pollution and improve water quality.
The wetlands proposed to be filled are part of a vital area of wetlands recommended to be preserved by the WMP.
More generally, the WMP recommends acquiring and preserving existing natural wetlands and creating constructed stormwater wetlands...not filling them. The plan states “The overall health of the greater Dog River Watershed depends upon the existence of its wetlands.” And goes on to say that the watershed has suffered from a drastic loss of wetlands and highlights that the greatest loss of wetlands in the Watershed has occurred as a result of filling wetlands for development.
“Although the loss and conversion of habitat is challenging and expensive to reverse, it is critical to protect and preserve remaining areas of ecological significance such as forests, wetlands, and stream floodplains, which provide a natural filter for pollutants, pathogens, sediment, etc. Failure to protect these wetlands, shorelines, marshes, and forests will exacerbate negative impacts described throughout this WMP.”
-Dog River Watershed Management Plan
The evidence in the Watershed Management Plan makes it clear why additional wetland fill in the Dog River Watershed will have serious negative effects on water quality and the safety and resilience of communities, infrastructure, and resources located within the watershed.
Mobile Baykeeper's main concerns include:
The location of the proposed project is a major concern. The Dog River Watershed is plagued with several issues including flooding, storm surge, shoreline erosion and water quality degradation; any amount of wetland fill will worsen these problems. Furthermore, the proposed wetlands to be filled are considered highly ecologically important to the watershed as a whole.
To fill wetlands you must show that there are no other practical alternatives. Houses do not have to be built in wetlands and, in the case of this application, it is clear that the applicant hasn't done everything practical to avoid wetlands.
If this application is approved:
Mobile Baykeeper urges the Corps to require the applicant to fund restoration and preservation projects identified within the Dog River WMP to fulfill the mitigation requirements. When wetlands are filled, the developer is required to mitigate (lessen) the harm caused by this wetland fill. The Dog River WMP clearly spells out needed restoration and preservation projects in the watershed. If these wetlands are filled, the harm that is caused by that fill can be lessened, or mitigated, by funding these critical projects.
Mitigation should preferentially seek to restore nearby wetlands. Performing required mitigation nearby helps ensure the least negative impact to water quality in the watershed.
Appropriate protection measures should be clearly demonstrated to ensure red clay doesn't fill Halls Mill Creek and Dog River during construction. For protection of the watershed and nearby residents, we strongly encourage the incorporation of Low Impact Development practices into the project to the maximum extent.
- To minimize negative impacts, inspections should be conducted - at least twice a week and after any rainfall of 0.50 inches or greater and a comprehensive plan be created to lay out best management practices and monitoring activities for the project.
The Dog River Watershed Management Plan was created to be an active guide for policy makers, watershed resource managers, and decision makers to strategically manage and protect the watershed. We rely on the health and beauty of Dog River for swimming, fishing, boating, delicious seafood, property values, and so much more.
Mobile Baykeeper urges the Corps to not dismiss the concerted effort made in the WMP and adequately consider it when evaluating this application. Given the above concerns, Mobile Baykeeper recommends denial of this wetland fill application.
Want to write your own letter to encourage these wetlands be protected and not filled?
We've spelled out our main concerns in the pre-drafted letter below. Feel free to edit it until it fits your concerns or just hit send to send your own letter to the Corps and ADEM recommending that they follow the Dog River Watershed Management Plan and protect these important wetlands!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 17, 2017
Contact: Casi (kc) Callaway, 251-433-4229. email@example.com.
Mobile Baykeeper awarded $56,000 Grant from NOAA to implement Marine Debris Removal Project during Mardi Gras 2018-2019
(Mobile, Ala.) – Mobile Baykeeper has been awarded a federal grant in the amount of $56,013 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to facilitate a marine debris removal project during Mardi Gras 2018 and 2019 carnival seasons. The NOAA Marine Debris Program removal grants offer funding that supports local, community-driven projects which benefit coastal habitat, waterways, and wildlife.
The goal of the project is to help the City of Mobile “Move Toward a Litter-Free Mardi Gras” by organizing a series of large-scale debris removals on One Mile Creek, implementing an extensive media campaign to raise public awareness, and purchasing additional temporary litter barriers and concrete inlet screens to cover storm drains along parade routes.
“Three years ago, we installed 150 catch basin screens on storm drains along the Mardi Gras parade route and in the downtown area,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “We applaud Mobile Baykeeper for continuing this effort to prevent litter and safeguard our precious waterways. While our City employees work diligently to clean 10 miles of streets following every Mardi Gras parade, these cleanups will address a neglected waterway and restore it to its historic significance.”
Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director Casi (kc) Callaway believes this campaign will help Mobilians think twice about the impact that Mardi Gras litter has on the environment. “Mardi Gras is a very special and fun occasion for our city, but it also raises a huge problem – litter in our streets and waterways,” she said. “Many of the items thrown in parades are left on the ground to wash into our storm drains and pollute nearby rivers and creeks. This project will enable us to remove a significant amount of marine debris from One Mile Creek.”
One Mile Creek, a tributary of the Three Mile Creek Watershed which contains a high amount of biodiversity, is located near the downtown area and therefore receives an excessive amount of litter from urban stormwater runoff due to the city’s aging infrastructure. This problem is even worse during busy downtown events like Mardi Gras, and has larger implications because the creek flows into Three Mile Creek before eventually draining into the Mobile River and beyond to Mobile Bay and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Baykeeper will partner with a number of local organizations throughout the duration of this project, including the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (NEP), who guided the development of the Three Mile Creek Watershed Management Plan in 2014. Roberta Swann, director of the NEP, believes restoring this watershed is vitally important for a number of reasons. “Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is looking forward to continuing its assault on trash in the Three Mile Creek Watershed and working alongside Mobile Baykeeper to eradicate trash in One Mile Creek, restoring the beauty of its habitats for birds, fish, and recreation,” she said.
Prior cleanups at One Mile Creek have also revealed medium-sized debris such as barrels and tires which cannot be removed safely without technical assistance. To address this issue, Mobile Baykeeper will partner with Thompson Engineering to organize extensive cleanups aimed to remove large-scale debris from the creek using a barge and a variety of other boats.
“Our environmental expertise is centered on water quality, from coastal and stream restoration to stormwater management and training,” said Thompson Engineering President & CEO John Baker. “We’re excited to partner with Mobile Baykeeper, Mobile Bay NEP, and the City of Mobile on this project as we continue our commitment to clean water and a clean environment.”
To generate public awareness, Baykeeper will implement a media campaign across broadcast, radio, social, digital, and print platforms leading up to and throughout the three-week duration of Mardi Gras. With the project slated to begin next month, Callaway and the rest of the Baykeeper team want the community to know that they actively support Mardi Gras but hope this campaign will encourage citizens to celebrate more responsibly.
“We love Mardi Gras just as much as anyone in Mobile and think it’s a great way to celebrate the history of our wonderful city. We also need to think responsibly while celebrating and realize the impacts it has on our environment.”
For more information, please visit mobilebaykeeper.org or call 251-433-4229.
Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that works to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper, please visit www.mobilebaykeeper.org