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Registration open for wetlands compliance workshops to educate on Alabama’s coastal region

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A Mobile nonprofit is offering opportunities to learn about a prominent ecosystem on the state’s shorelines. The Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) has announced its Wetlands Compliance Workshops are set for August 8 and August 20 respectively.

Alabama's wetlands include seeps along slopes of hills and sloughs, bottomlands, bayheads, “grady ponds”, bayous and bogues, muck and peat swamps, cypress/gum ponds, wet meadows, savannah and coastal prairie flats, tidal fringe marshes, hummocks and swales; barrier island lagoons and backwater bays, according to the National Association of Wetland Managers.

The ACF workshops, which are being offered in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, teach participants how to identify wetlands, how to navigate policies and state regulations and are given case studies as examples to better understand the process.

ACF Executive Director, Mark Berte, said protecting wetlands is important due to their importance in the Alabama ecosystem.

“We want to make sure we protect that when we humans develop in different areas. We want to make sure that we develop in a smart way that helps people to enjoy the nature that we have around,” he said. “Wetlands are part of that, but they are not only important to look at and to experience, but to protect, because they're really an important part of holding vegetation, the water sources for vegetation and our oils. They include swamps and marshes and bogs in similar areas.”

Berte said the ACF created the workshops after damage was done to the wetlands along the Alabama Coast.

“It started many years ago. Somebody had done something wrong many years ago. So, ACF was asked to create a course to be able to educate people, so that people won't do the wrong thing without knowing about it,” Berte said. “So that people understand what the issues are and why it's important to make sure to protect those.”

Berte explained the workshops are open to those interested in the wetlands ecosystem, alongside those who are required to attend.

“We give a really broad range of education, [for] who may be interested in learning a little bit more about [wetlands] but also the ones who are required,” he said. “The real estate folks and the planning people and the bar the legal people [can] go away with not only what they're supposed to be doing, but also why, which is a really important thing here at the Alabama Coastal Foundation,“ Berte continued. “If you understand the why, then you will do the right thing.”

He said protecting the wetlands in Alabama is especially important since they are declining.

“We want to make sure that we protect those areas that are there. They provide storm water storage, also ground water recharge, as well as shoreline and water shoreline protection,” Berte said.

The ACF Wetlands Compliance Workshops are set for August 8 and August 20. Registration for both workshops is open until two days before each event and costs $40. Visit the ACF website for information.

Andrea Tinker is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is majoring in News Media with a minor in African American Studies at The University of Alabama. In her free time, Andrea loves to listen to all types of music, spending time with family, and reading about anything pop culture related.

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