Alabama’s River Heroes honored at Alabama Water Rally

Alabama’s River Heroes honored at Alabama Water Rally

  • Britt Butler, founder of the ABAHAC Foundation (Cahaba spelled backwards), who has been supporting environmental organizations with his financial contributions for decades.  Butler’s financial support was the first given to establish the Cahaba River Society and it enabled them to hire staff.  Since then his foundation has grown to support dozens of other conservation and environmental groups in Alabama and Tennessee.  In his acceptance speech, Butler revealed that the ABAHAC Foundation has awarded over $2 million to environmental nonprofits since its inception.
  • Lonnie Carden, owner of Southern Trail and Coosa Outdoor Center, an outdoor retailer and outfitter based in Wetumpka on the Coosa River.  Lonnie helped save the last 13 miles of the Coosa River after the entire system was dammed and placed under the control of Alabama Power for hydropower generation.  Thanks to his vision and persistence, thousands of Alabamians now enjoy canoeing, fishing, and swimming the Coosa River each year.
  • David Whiteside, the Tennessee Riverkeeper, who founded three of Alabama’s  eight Waterkeeper Alliance organizations and has helped support countless other Waterkeeper groups across the Southeast.  Whiteside told the audience that he first heard about water pollution when he was a little child and he came home and told his parents that he wanted to fight pollution.  He has been working in that direction ever since.

Other highlights of the weekend included keynote presentations by Dr. Jim McClintock of the University of Alabama Birmingham, who shared his research in Antarctica and his new book, Lost Antarctica, and by Beth Young, celebrated conservation photographer, who discussed her work to promote and preserve and protect natural resources through photography.  Young discussed her books Headwatersand Longleaf: Far as the Eye See. 

“We believe by bringing everyone together to learn, network, and strategize, we can have a more organized campaign for clean, healthy water in Alabama,” stated Cindy Lowry, Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance.  “The beauty of Alabama Water Rally is that it isn’t our conference; it’s the people of Alabama’s.  Everyone in Alabama who has an interest in water is encouraged to attend.”

Click here to see photos of the 2013 Alabama Water Rally.

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About the Alabama Rivers Alliance
The Alabama Rivers Alliance is a network of river and water-centered organizations from around Alabama, the statewide organization working to defend and restore Alabama’s rivers by advocating for smart water policy, organizing at the grassroots level, and teaching citizens how they can protect their water with in order to achieve healthy rivers, healthy people, and a healthy system of government for the state of Alabama.  Please visit for more information.

About Alabama Water Rally
Alabama Water Rally is a conference that has been produced annually by the Alabama Rivers Alliance for sixteen years. It is the premier education event for adults interested in water protection and conservation in Alabama, with three days of educational sessions designed to inform, empower, and inspire participants to protect their local waterways.


Nauvoo, Ala. Over one-hundred and twenty clean water advocates gathered at the 15th Annual Alabama Water Rally last weekend, representing 57 different organizations from 19 watersheds across Alabama.  Participants in this annual conference included scientists, environmental lawyers, educators, and more than twenty university students from across the state who heard presentations from local, regional, and national experts on topics ranging from the creation of a comprehensive water management policy for Alabama to how to build a rain barrel to how to effectively communicate with their elected officials.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see so many groups coming together for Alabama Water Rally,” said Adam Johnston, Alliance Coordinator for the Alabama Rivers Alliance. “Collaboration is crucial to our work to protect our state’s waterways.”

Kicking off the event was the annual River Celebration Awards Ceremony where awards are given to organizations and individuals who have gone to exceptional lengths to protect rivers and water resources in Alabama.  Three individuals were honored with the coveted River Hero Award, a lifetime achievement award given to three select Alabamians each year in recognition of their exceptional service to Alabama’s rivers and their watersheds.

This year’s River Heroes included: