Meet Your Legislators: Rep. Jeff Sorrells (R-Hartford)

With dozens of new faces set to convene in Montgomery for the 2019 state legislative session, Conservation Alabama wanted to learn more about our freshmen legislators. We’re giving each of them the opportunity to answer a few brief questions about Alabama’s natural resources and why they love them, and we’ll share their responses with you.

Today, meet Rep. Jeff Sorrells (R-Hartford).

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Rep. Jeff Sorrells (R-Hartford)

Where is your favorite place to spend time outdoors in Alabama?

Anywhere outdoors in Alabama has always been a special place for me. I have always enjoyed the peacefulness that you can experience by being outdoors. If I had to pick one particular place it would have to be fishing in Gulf Shores. Some of the best times of my life have been the fishing adventures with my brother along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Anytime I have the opportunity to spend time with him it will usually involve some type of fishing and there is no better place than Gulf Shores. From the offshore trips for snapper and amberjack to – my favorite – the trips inshore for red fish, flounder and speckled trout, our coastline has the best there is to offer. There is no better place to experience the outdoors.

Running a close second would be the family farm in Geneva County. The farm has been a part of our family for the past 65 years. Sitting on the porch at the end of a beautiful fall day with the cows grazing and the dove flying in to water is a picture-perfect close to any day. Occasionally, we will get a visit from one of the area’s bald eagles that will come over to do a little fishing of its own. That is a wonderful sight to sit back and watch. Priceless!!

What role do Alabama’s natural resources play in your district?

Being from an agricultural district, the natural resources are vital to everything we do in Geneva County. Our natural resources are something that can never be replaced so it is up to us as Alabamians to conserve and protect each and every resource. From the dirt where we plant the crops, to the water that irrigates these crops, to the timber that is harvested each year, our natural resources play a tremendous role in all of Alabama.

What conservation policies do you think the legislature should consider during your first term?

I have always been a strong supporter of the Forever Wild program. It is through this program that Alabama has been able to maintain the wildlife in our state and see this valuable resource prosper. Keeping portions of Alabama’s Gulf Coast ecosystem is vital. We have the finest ecosystem and fishery in the Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores and I feel it is imperative that we leave this body of water as it is today. Excessive development can only lead to a decline in the ecosystem. Even today, groups such as the Little Lagoon Preservation Society are instrumental in preserving this body of water. Oysters are being grown as seed oysters, fingerling fish are released periodically and water quality is tested to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy what we have enjoyed all these years. It is my desire that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to experience what I have come to enjoy so much: Alabama’s Gulf Coast!

What opportunities do you see for expanding the renewable energy market in Alabama?

Renewable energy is an area that is new to me. I do feel that we must look at every opportunity that is available for a clean and reliable energy source. I do know that wind and solar energy are becoming an alternative to seriously consider in Alabama. Infrastructure has always been an important issue to me and I feel that we have to continually look 15 to 20 years down the road to ensure that when that time arrives we are prepared and are proactive and not reactive.

 

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Meet Your Legislators: Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle)

With dozens of new faces set to convene in Montgomery for the 2019 state legislative session, Conservation Alabama wanted to learn more about our freshmen legislators. We’re giving each of them the opportunity to answer a few brief questions about Alabama’s natural resources and why they love them, and we’ll share their responses with you.

Today’s feature is Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle).

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Where is your favorite place to spend time outdoors in Alabama?

  • Sipsey Wilderness Area (Hiking and Kayaking)
  • Below Smith Lake Dam – Sipsey Fork (Fly Fishing)
  • Cahaba River (Kayaking)
  • Gulf and Bay (Fishing)
  • Red Mountain Park (Hiking)
  • Oak Mountain State Park (Hiking, Fishing, Mountain and Road Biking)
  • Ruffner Mountain (Hiking)
  • Smith Lake
  • Tennessee River
  • Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

What role do Alabama’s natural resources play in your district?

  • The Tennessee River is essential for life in District 9, providing water resources for drinking, agricultural, and recreation.
  • Hunting allows for not only recreation but also food sources.

What conservation policies do you think the legislature should consider during your first term?

  • Ways to conserve and protect water resources in terms of water quality and management in times of drought.
  • Monitor hunting and fishing limits to best serve long term resource protection for future generations to enjoy.

What opportunities do you see for expanding the renewable energy market in Alabama?

  • Alabama’s renewable energy future will be primarily in solar and battery storage opportunities. Currently the solar market in Alabama is in the early development stages with projects underway with TVA in Northern Alabama, while Alabama Power issued an RFP for renewable energy sources.
  • A primary way to help developers and bring increased amounts of solar energy to Alabama is education, explaining that solar is quickly approaching one of the lowest-cost forms of energy.
  • Landowners, city officials and economic development agencies should be educated on what constitutes a successful solar farm and the benefits it can bring to a community in terms of capital investment and educational opportunities.
  • Put local co-ops and utilities in touch with developers to help them find ways to diversify their mix of energy resources.
  • Battery storage will continue to take off in the next decade and will serve as a key tool in helping to bring energy costs down.

Meet Your Legislators: Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika)

With dozens of new faces set to convene in Montgomery for the 2019 state legislative session, Conservation Alabama wanted to learn more about our freshmen legislators. We’re giving each of them the opportunity to answer a few brief questions about Alabama’s natural resources and why they love them, and we’ll share their responses with you.

Today’s feature is another of Conservation Alabama Action Fund’s endorsed candidates: Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika).

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Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-HD83)

Where is your favorite place to spend time outdoors in Alabama?

I must begin by saying that I am not yet an expert on natural resources or conservation efforts. Nonetheless, the following words once uttered by George Washington Carver remain true: “Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books.” It is easy for me to think clearly in the tranquility found in my favorite place, which is great because I am sure I will be in great need of such a place in the years to come; and, I believe it is wise for each of us to find a space, in nature, that will allow us to let go of life’s unavoidable stresses.

For me, my favorite place is a field, as it has always been. Fields can change, moving from massive open spaces outlined by bleachers and screaming fans to small, intimate, quiet spaces outlined by trees whistling in the wind. Either way, I accomplish the thing that I have always accomplished while enjoying the field: I find renewed purpose and strength to tackle what is before me.

What role do Alabama’s natural resources play in your district?

District 83 is composed of brooks, streams, marshy areas, creeks, tributaries, water sources, in-ground resources, energy facilities, farmlands, fields, parks, community gardens, and individual lots alike. Therefore, natural resources play a large role in the economics, preservation, and quality of life issues, in that order, that affect my constituents.

What conservation policies do you think the legislature should consider during your first term?

I am excited about the future of research institutions, such as Auburn University, an R1 research institution that has utilized its land grant resources to strengthen the economy and quality of life for Alabamians. I would like to see additional research and outreach funding to provide economic opportunities that increase preservation efforts for the waterways, farmlands, and green space within District 83. In addition, legislation aimed at keeping commercial and consumer energy costs stable would be encouraging.

What opportunities do you see for expanding the renewable energy market in Alabama?

The beginning of session is upon us. I would like to take time and research how waste management services have collaborated with farmlands to produce biofuels that are actually utilized commercially or in co-ops. I think that District 83 can benefit from such research, production, and local distribution to meet the needs of my constituents.

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