Minutes of Rotary Meeting
August 26, 2021
By Kathy Miller
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Elizabeth Stevens, President of the Rotary Club of Mobile, at 12:00 p.m.
Invocation, Song and Pledge: John Garrett gave the invocation and Bob Chappelle led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Announcements: Claire McCarron announced member birthdays this week. Elizabeth read the list of members recognized for 100% attendance during the 2020-2021 Rotary year, a copy of which is attached.
Program: Michael Holland introduced Judy Haner, Director of Marine Programs for The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. Ms. Haner’s presentation was entitled “Resoration…It’s Happening in Your Backyard. Ms. Haner gave an overview of the work of The Nature of Conservancy, which is an international organization with over 3,000 employees worldwide. There are twenty employees of The Nature of Conservancy in Alabama and three in Mobile. Ms. Haner spoke about five projects in the Mobile area but said that there are hundreds of projects in which The Nature of Conservancy is involved.
Ms. Haner first discussed the Grand Bay Savannah, which began with 165 acres held by the State, and now consists over 26,000 acres running along the shoreline from Bayou la Batre for 120 miles to the west. Ms. Haner described how The Nature of Conservancy approaches its partnerships when developing a project. One of the first segments of work in Grand Bay was a controlled burn and then invasive species control. In addition to Chinese tallow and other invasive vegetation, the property was overrun with wild pigs. She said that they are working with the USDA on capturing the pigs and relocating them.
Ms. Haner next discussed Lightning Point, which is located in Bayou la Batre. The Nature of Conservancy met with community members to ascertain what type of property use they were seeking, which included jetties for protection of the Bayou la Batre Harbor and walking paths. The Conservancy’s first task there was removing approximately five barge loads of marine trash dating back to Hurricane Katrina. This property also required removal of pigs and invasive species. She said that the storms in the summer of 2020 showed that the work that has been done did what it was supposed to do: protect the harbor. She noted that the bluff at the site overlooking the wetlands is a beautiful vista.
Ms. Haner next discussed the Helen Wood Park in Mobile which is located on the Bay and suffered significant damage from Hurricanes Cristobal and Zeta. The latter storm took the entire boardwalk. She described the Swift track, which is a contiguous property owned by the state on Bon Secour Bay. In that area, The Nature of Conservancy is monitoring oysters, muscles, shrimp and worms. The Nature of Conservancy typically monitors the properties every three years and after storms. Finally, Ms. Haner highlighted the Perdido Islands Restoration and showed slides depicting how the recent storms have “remade these islands.” She discussed the plans to reestablish sea grass protection and habitat and the need to “beef up” the islands. Ms. Haner answered questions and thanked members. Elizabeth presented Ms. Haner with a Certificate of Appreciation for speaking to the Club.
Closing Remarks and Adjournment: Elizabeth announced the program for next week and adjourned the meeting at 1:00 p.m.