The American Wondrous Amazon of Alabama

For the past twenty years, I’ve had my camp in the inland delta of rivers flowing through southern Alabama. I am like the faux Native American, tear in eye, when I reflect that just like in Amazonas, man is destroying a pristine environment Many know little of this paradise I’ve grown to love so I submit this piece to to edify my friends in this forum. It’s a great read.

ALABAMA is America’s Amazon. Hidden away in the heart of the Deep South, one of the nation’s greatest wildernesses is being destroyed, bit by bit, in a silent massacre.

There are more species of oaks on a single hillside on the banks of the Alabama River than you can find anywhere else in the world. The Mobile River Basin makes Alabama home to more species of freshwater fish, mussels, snails, turtles and crawfish than any other state. The contest isn’t even close.

For instance, Alabama is home to 97 crawfish species, while California, three times the size of Alabama, has but nine. There are 450 species of freshwater fish in the state, or about one-third of all species known in the entire nation. The system’s turtle population is even more singular. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta estuary system has 18 turtle species, more than any other river delta system in the world — more than the Amazon and more than the Mekong, both extraordinarily biodiverse ecosystems.

You won’t find people chaining themselves to trees to protect this place, or national environmental groups using pictures of it to sign up new members, because few know it exists. And yet, here it is — the Mobile River Basin, one of the richest in the world in terms of the sheer number of species and types of habitat. The major rivers and thousands of creeks feeding into this basin together form the largest inland delta system in the United States, second only to the Mississippi in how much water it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.

The river system, the fourth-largest in the country in terms of water flow, stretches from the northern edge of Alabama to the Gulf, draining parts of four states, and encompassing hundreds of thousands of acres of forest, from Appalachian hardwood stands to haunted cypress swamps. A dedicated band of locals know it for the incredible hunting and fishing it affords. But few know it for its greatest distinction. That’s a shame, for this is America’s Amazon, far and away the most biodiverse river network in North America."

One of America’s great wildernesses is being destroyed, bit by bit, in a silent massacre

BTW, the Native American in the commercial to which I alluded earlier is an Italian guy dressed up as an Indian. The Mobile-Tensaw is part of the Tenn-Tom Shipping lane that connects the port of Mobile with the Mississippi River. It’s thousands of miles long, and it has the largest barge traffic of any inland waterway. It’s not uncommon to find 7 barges, three stories high, lashed together with a tug boat in the center pushing them up and down stream. When you encounter a barge, its wake in the river is 3 to 4 ft high, not good when you’re in a bass boat. The waves are higher than those produced by hurricanes. All along the river, industrial plants are built. In 2007, German Thyssen Krupp constructed a steel mill which was the largest industrial project in the Western Hemisphere. Numerous coal burning electrical plants dot the shores in certain areas. Twenty years ago, I could throw my cast net in October and in a single throw net 100 pounds of shrimp. That was when the bayous were filled with grass along the shores. The fool Corp of Engineers decided the grass was bad for river traffic, and for months they sprayed it with an herbicide, and the grass is no more. What is being done is criminal. I am active member of a sportsman’s group fighting to preserve the Delta.