Environmental Planning

ADEM Announces Community Training on Environmental Issues 2013

The Alabama Department of Environmental Managemnet (ADEM) has partnered with Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Auburn University Water Resources Center to provide training to local citizens about inquiries on environmental issues within their community. Anyone interested in environmental issues impacting their area are invited to attend along with elected officials, students, faculty, and other guests. This will be held Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 6pm at the Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science Innovation and Commerce at Auburn University. Please click this link for further details: Press Release

Friends of the Preserve Launches Membership Recruitment

Membership recruitment has officially launched for the new Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon. President John Dersham announces country music icon Randy Owen of Alabama and his wife Kelly are the first members of the newly established organization. To find more information about the membership, click on this link: Press Release

TARCOG Workshop Series of 2009

TARCOG organized several successful workshops in 2009 including topics on stormwater management, erosion and sediment control, forest resources, landscaping, home energy use, grant writing and rain barrels. The first workshop of the year ‘Green from the Start’ was held in April at the Jacksonville State University Canyon Center in DeKalb County. Local developers, engineers, construction managers and others learned about watersheds, stormwater management, erosion and sediment control and tour the new LEED Certified Canyon Center. Dr. Eve Brantley from Auburn University and Dr. Greg Jennings from North Carolina State University were the main speakers and were made available through the Southeast Regional Water Quality Assistance Network (SERWQAN).

A newly formed partnership with the Alabama Forestry Commission led to a Wildland Urban Interface workshop ‘Keeping Your Home Green and Safe’ that was held at the beautiful lodge at Lake Guntersville State Park in July. In this day long workshop participants from throughout the five counties learned about wildfire threat, landscaping, energy conservation and other green topics. In August another workshop ‘A Toolbox to Successful Grants’ was held at Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) in Rainsville. Over 60 people attended this free workshop which was presented by NACC, Alabama Rural Action Committee and TARCOG. Participants learned how to prepare a grant proposal and apply for funding at the local, state and federal level.

The Rain Barrel Workshop which was held at DeSoto State Park on the afternoon of November 17th was the last workshop of the year. Participants learned about water conservation, protecting our rivers and constructed a 55- gallon rain barrel for home use. The Alabama Clean Water Partnership with many sponsors including Coca-Cola who donates syrup containers to be converted to rain barrels has started introducing this workshop throughout the state with great success. There will be more Rain Barrel Workshops throughout the TARCOG region in 2010.

TARCOG Participates in Earth Day Events

Earth Day is a day of celebration, activities, and events to educate people about protecting the environment. The first Earth day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a Senator from Wisconsin who was concerned about environmental degradation on April 22, 1970. Earth Day has gown over the past 39 years and is now celebrated around the world. TARCOG participated in Earth Day Events at Hays Nature Preserve on April 18th and Marshall Space Flight Center on April 21st this year. Watershed Studies and current projects in Environmental Planning were on display at these events. TARCOG will also participate in the City of Madison’s first environmental festival ‘Clean the Green’ on May 9, 2009. The goal of this festival is to bring awareness to the public about being good stewards of our planet which in turn gives us a better quality of life.

Another event that several employees of TARCOG recently participated in was Earth Hour held on March 28, 2009. Those participating turned off there lights for 1 hour at 8:30 p.m. and joined the biggest public event of its kind in history. In United States alone 36 million people participated in the event. Around the world hundreds of millions of people in 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries turned off their lights for 1 hour to raise awareness about the climate change. Go to www.EarthHourUs.org to see pictures of the event. Even though TARCOG participates in annual events such as these we also continue to reduce, reuse, and recycle and strive to conserve energy on a daily basis.

TARCOG Received SERWQAN Grant for Little River Watershed

Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) was recently awarded a grant through the Southeastern Regional Water Quality Assistance Network (SERWQAN) for technical assistance in the Little River Watershed and Upper Coosa Basin located in Dekalb County, Alabama and Cherokee County, Alabama. The SERWQAN represents a network of southeastern organizations that are committed to strengthening the capacity of communities to develop and successfully implement watershed protection efforts. Some of the assistance that will be provided will include Growth Readiness Workshops, evaluating codes and ordinances, workshops for a variety of stakeholders, cost impact analysis and community education. The Little River Watershed and Upper Coosa Basin, although mostly rural, is strategically located between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia which is predicted to be one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. Little River is designated as an Outstanding National Resource Water ONRW). The ONRW designation recognizes the unique biodiversity and importance of the Little River to Alabama. The main threat to the watershed is an increase in unregulated growth which will diminish the water quality, scenic views and tourism which is a key economic factor in both DeKalb and Cherokee Counties.

The goal of this partnership is to offer educational opportunities to the community and work with local governments in the watershed to protect water quality, economic vitality and quality of life. A stakeholders meeting was held July 30th, 2008 in Fort Payne, Alabama to discuss current issues, future plans and partnerships for the Little River Watershed. Over twenty people attended with representation from Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the National Park Service, Nature Conservancy, Jacksonville State University, Alabama Forestry Commission, National Park Conservation Association and many others. It was decided that educational workshops for developers and realtors should be one of the priorities. Therefore, a ‘Get the Dirt Out’ workshop was conducted in the early fall hosted by the Coosa River Basin Initiative. A series of watershed seminars will be held in 2009 with assistance from SERWQAN and the Alabama Cooperative Extension. Seminar topics will include a primer on Alabama regulations, stormwater management, erosion and sediment control, eco-friendly landscaping, and others. Continuing education units (CEUs) will be offered for each of these seminars.

TARCOG Goes Green

Starting with the 2008 Spring issue of The Reporter, the newsletter will be printed on recycled paper and use soy ink instead of traditional petroleum based inks. The switch is one of many efforts that TARCOG has made during the past year to become more environmentally friendly. In April of 2007 a recycling program was initiated in our office and has been a great success. The ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) of Madison County provided recycle bins to put throughout the office and picks up approximately 150 pounds of mixed paper and 6 pounds of aluminum cans every two weeks. The ARC Recycling Program employs 45 adults with mental retardation and provides services at 111 community sites. These employees gather the recycle products from the sites and bring them to the ARC Lowe Facility for sorting. ARC collects up to 70 tons of paper material a year. In 2007 TARCOG contributed 1.4 tons of paper and 96 pounds of aluminum to be recycled. The benefits are numerous for the environment, as seen below, and provide valuable work experience for people that might not have any other opportunities in the community making this a program that TARCOG fully supports.

Every ton of paper recycled:

  • saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space (9 x 10ft room with 8 ft ceilings)
  • saves approximately 17 trees
  • requires 64% less energy to manufacture 1 ton of virgin paper
  • saves enough energy to power the average home 6 months
  • keeps 60 pounds of effluents out of the air
  • saves 7000 gallons of water

Every can recycled:

  • saves enough energy to run a television for three hours
  • saves energy equivalent to 6 ounces of gasoline
  • takes 95 percent less energy than producing one can using virgin ore (over 50% of aluminum cans produced are recycled)

2008 Madison County Drinking Water Festival

The 2008 Madison County Drinking Water Festival was held on the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus on May 6th and 7th. Fourth grade students from over 30 schools in Madison County participated in activities related to surface and groundwater including Watershed In A Box (pictured above), Well In A Cup, Filtration, Cave Shrimp, and Wetland Metaphors. The goal of the festival is to educate the students where their drinking water comes from and how to protect it and keep it clean. The Festival began in 1998 with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today the festival has many sponsors including TARCOG which has contributed monetary and personnel support since 2001.

NEMO Workshop and Little River Canyon Field School Tour a Success

TARCOG in conjunction with ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) held a NEMO (Nonpoint Source Education for Elected and Municipal Officials) Workshop on March 18 at the DeKalb Theatre in Fort Payne, AL. This was an educational workshop about the linkages between land use and water quality. In attendance were DeKalb County Commissioners, Mayors, engineers, National and State Park representatives and other community leaders. Following the workshop the participants met with County Commissioner Brant Craig and Director Pete Conroy of the Environmental Policy and Information Center from Jacksonville State University, for a tour of the Little River Canyon Field School. The facility will be the new headquarters for the Little River Canyon National Preserve and provide educational and cultural programs through Jacksonville State University. The facility is still under construction and will officially open January 2009.

Watershed Studies

  • Little River Land Use and Protection Program 2008 (PDF)
  • East Fork Little River Watershed Study 2007 (PDF)
  • Little River Watershed Study 2006
  • West Fork Little River Watershed Study 2005

Other Documents

  • Web-based Reporting and Guidelines
  • Rural Development Guidelines

Links to Environmental Websites

Model Ordinances to Protect Local Resources provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This web site includes model ordinances to serve as a template for those charged with making decisions concerning growth and environmental protection. The ordinances included are aquatic buffers, erosion and sediment control, open space development, stormwater control operation and maintenance, illicit discharges, and post construction controls. There is also a miscellaneous category containing ordinances that don’t fit into these sections. In addition, this web site has materials that support particular ordinances, such as maintenance agreements and inspection checklists.

Model Ordinances for Aquatic Resource Protection provided by The Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center
This web site provides examples of both real-world and model ordinances that can be used to guide future growth while safeguarding local natural resources. The intent is to provide language and ideas that communities and stormwater managers can incorporate when constructing an ordinance for their local area. Model ordinances included are:

  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management
  • Stream Buffer Ordinances
  • Illicit Detection and Elimination Measures
  • Erosion and Sediment Control Requirements
  • Open Space Design Zoning Controls
  • Operation and Maintenance Criteria for Stormwater Practices
  • Groundwater Protection Ordinances Miscellaneous

Page last updated April 2010