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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.
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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.

Meet Your Legislators: Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield)

With dozens of new faces set to convene in Montgomery for the 2019 state legislative session, Conservation Alabama wanted to learn more about our newly-elected 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.

First up, one of Conservation Alabama Action Fund’s endorsed candidates: Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield).

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Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield)

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

Either one of three places—the beautiful Alabama coastline, Little River Canyon or my father-in-law’s farm in the small Fayette County community of Wayside.

My favorite time to visit the beach is in the fall where my wife and I can avoid the crowds and the summertime temperatures. The sunsets are spectacular and the cooling temperatures are so welcoming for long walks on the beach where we can more closely explore the waves, seashells and an occasional turtle’s nest.

Hiking in the canyon in the fall is one of the most breathtaking scenes one could imagine—and these words are from a father who has visited all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.

My father-in-law’s farm consists of more than 600 acres and is more than 10 miles from the nearest incorporated area. A winding dirt roads meanders from one end of the property to the other, Limited traffic in the area makes for remote walks or a chance to drop a line in the family fishing pond.

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

Possibly the most visible natural resource or site in my district is the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County. While I have only visited on an occasion or two, my brother and his students visit multiple times each year. He is a biology, microbiology and zoology instructor in nearby Fayette at Bevill State Community College. There is no more avid supporter of the forest than he. The forest also serves as a natural watershed, which serves to maintain clean waters in our area.

Forming the easternmost boundary of my district is Lewis Smith Lake. We have friends who own homes on the lake and as a result, we have the opportunity to visit a few times each year. In this manner, natural resources provide for family fun and recreation.
The same can be said for the Buttahatchee River where local families take one-day float trips or Bear Creek, which is located along the northernmost border of my district. In this area, outdoor enthusiasts can float or canoe.

Natural resources are also critical to the local economy in terms of the timber industry while my paternal grandfather provided for his family as a coal miner for generations.

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

I would be hopeful the state would always be faithful in funding the Forever Wild program. Increasing the acreage owned through this program to preserve our magnificent resources for future generations is critical.

Properly funding our state parks is important—whether funding to make the needed repairs to those now in need or simply allowing public access to the facilities. Maintaining high-quality state parks is a vital service to those who pay taxes in our states and want to share these sites with the generations which follow.

Protecting the Sipsey River is an important process, as I understand this is the only Wild and Scenic River in the entire state.

Watching the replanting process at my father-in-law’s farm, I feel it is important the state closely monitor movement in this area following timber cuttings. While I would hope new plantings would be a mixture of pine and hardwoods, I think it is even more important that the state protect properties against the dangers of erosion. While I am strong supporter of individual property rights, I also think the state has a vested interest in erosion management. Not only does this protect the actual site, it could also lessen the amount of sediment making the eventual journey to the Mobile Bay. State funds are eventually used to dredge the bay at an enormous expense. To a layman like me, it seems to make more economic sense to lessen the impact on the front end.

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

My knowledge here is limited, but I have always had an interest in what options off-shore wind turbines could offer our state. While I am hesitant to do anything to lessen the natural beauty just offshore from our beaches, I am curious as to what renewable energy opportunities this could offer.

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