Letters to the Editor for April 11, 2007

Dear Editor,

My name is Paige Harkins and I am with the Chelsea Youth Club. This past Saturday was our Jamboree Day for baseball and softball. It is the biggest day of the year for us and a lot of people showed up.

The C.O.P. helped us organize our parking for the entire day. They were very devoted and organized and we couldn&8217;t have done it without their help.

We would really like to recognize them in some way and thought an article in the paper might do the trick. They are a great volunteer organization, mostly of retired citizens.

Paige Harkins

Chelsea

Dear Editor,

In the midst of the tremendous growth being witnessed in the Shelby County business and housing industries, it is imperative that we do not fail to recognize our responsibilities to be good stewards of our environment. Many Alabamians do not recognize the environmental value and significance of our own forests and rivers. Alabama ranks first in the nation in terms of navigable, fresh waterways, and is home to about 22 million acres of timberland. Combine these facts with the wide variety of habitats ranging from the mountainous areas of north Alabama to the coastal regions in Mobile and Baldwin counties, and you have one of the most biodiverse states in America!

With such remarkable diversity in plant and animal species there also comes a heavy burden to try to protect these species. Alabama is ranked second only to Hawaii in the total number of plants and animals that have already been placed on the extinct list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently identifies the following species, all found in Shelby County, as either endangered or threatened: Gray bat Myotis grisescens, Indiana bat Myotis sodalis, Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus , Cahaba shiner Notropis cahabae, Goldline darter Percina aurolineata, Painted rocksnail Leptoxis taeniata, Tulotoma snail Tulotoma magnifica, Southern clubshell mussel Pleurobema decisum, Triangular kidneyshell mussel Ptychobranchus greenii, Southern acornshell mussel Epioblasma othcaloogensis (P), Fine-lined pocketbook mussel Hamiota (=Lampsilis) altilis, Orange-nacre mucket mussel Hamiota (=Lampsilis) perovalis, Alabama moccasinshell mussel Medionidus acutissimus, Cylindrical lioplax (snail) Lioplax cyclostomaformis, Flat pebblesnail Lepyrium showalteri, Round rocksnail Leptoxis ampla, Tennessee yellow-eyed grass Xyris tennesseensis.

Baldwin, Shelby, Jackson, Bibb and Colbert counties currently have the longest lists of threatened and endangered species. Other Alabama species also found on the threatened or endangered list include the Alabama sturgeon, the Wood Stork, the Gopher Frog and the Boulder Darter.

Any good environmental education program begins in the home when children are young. A long walk in the woods with Grandpa can be the perfect foundation to help a child begin to observe the beauty of the natural environment and its native inhabitants. There are also a growing number of resources available to parents through internet sites and government agencies. A simple search of wildlife education or environmental education brings a multitude of sites that provide information and activities that parents can use with their children in their home. Many such sites also provide a plethora of ideas and resources that can be used by classroom teachers and home schooling parents.

The Alabama Outdoor Classroom program is a great example of such a site. The Outdoor Alabama program provides hands-on education opportunities that incorporate a wide variety of disciplines including science, math, social studies, language arts, arts, physical education and of course, environmental education at www.alabamawildlife.org.

Another wonderful parent and teacher-friendly environmental resource is Legacy, Inc., Partners in Environmental Education. Legacy will provide a one-time offer of a wide variety of pamphlets and posters free of charge to any Alabama resident at www.legacyenved.org.

As Alabamians, we all have much to protect for our nation and our future generations. We also have an important mission to educate others about the need to protect our environment and properly manage our natural resources. When we educate our children about our valuable natural environment, they in turn will then share their passion and understandings, and we will hopefully begin to see a more environmentally conscious and fervent Alabama.

Dr. Donna D. Strong

Gifted Resource Coordinator

Thompson High Schoo