Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Black Warrior Riverkeeper protects nature and wildlife

CW / Hannah Grace Mayfield

Black Warrior Riverkeeper is a citizen-based, nonprofit organization that helps protect, maintain and restore the Black Warrior River.  

To restore and protect the river, Black Warrior Riverkeeper uses a watershed approach to make sure the water is clean and that the recreational and natural aspects of the river are well kept up. This upkeep is done by Alabamian volunteers.  

Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper since 2010, leads the staff members and oversees the organizations events, outreach and collaborations. 

Scribner is involved with the organization’s role in Waterkeeper Alliance, a movement founded in 1999 that offers “legal, scientific, and capacity-building advice, provides networking opportunities, and often advocates for issues common to multiple local Waterkeepers,” he said. The alliance consists of over 350 organizations and helps further connect and support the waterkeepers in Alabama 

Black Warrior Riverkeeper provides various volunteer opportunities and community participation events that help the environment. The organization publishes monthly volunteer newsletters with upcoming opportunities, events and updates for those interested in contributing. It has held five cleanups this year, with over 60 volunteers who picked up over 2,600 pounds of trash, according to the April volunteer newsletter. 

“I would be honored to lead any of the 350+ Waterkeeper Alliance organizations across the world, but it is particularly inspiring to lead this one in Alabama, America’s leading state for freshwater biodiversity,” Scribner said.  

Andrew Hall, a senior majoring in political science and management information systems at the University, grew up in Alabama and has learned a lot about environmental impact, species of plants and animals and more from volunteering with Black Warrior Riverkeeper. Hall volunteers mainly at the Locust Fork, one of three major headwater streams of the Black Warrior River along with the Sipsey Fork and the Mulberry Fork, according to the organization’s website. 

“Joining the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, I just really got to know more about the Alabama landscape and how all the unique species that we have are being impacted by issues like coal plants,” Hall said.  

Hall mentioned the happiness that comes with cleaning the environment and “recognizing that I’m doing a real change by cleaning out these rivers so people can go and enjoy them and fish without worrying about microplastics and trash bags.” 

Alek Ledvina is another student who had the opportunity to volunteer for the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and is a senior majoring in economics and finance. He assisted in the cleaning of District 1 in North Birmingham on Jan. 15. That day the Black Warrior Riverkeeper celebrated a groundbreaking cleanup, removing over 2,000 pounds of trash.  

“The roadside that we cleaned was totally unrecognizable, and I know that we had an impact on the community,” Ledvina said. 

He also touched on how efforts like these are critical to realizing the Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s mission as they are ground zero for keeping trash out of our waterways. He stressed the importance of student involvement, noting that students can contribute to the integrity of some of the most biodiverse watersheds in the country. 

Along with directing volunteering opportunities to combat littering and receiving voluntary donations, Black Warrior Riverkeeper holds fun community events. On April 20, the organization will host Earthbound’s Earthfest, an outdoor rock concert at Avondale Brewery in Birmingham.  

“The family-friendly outdoor event is open to pets and people of all ages, although guests under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian,” Scribner said. “Suggested $5 donations at the door will support Black Warrior Riverkeeper, as will proceeds from merchandise, art and food trucks.” 

Hall commends the work the organization has done in maintaining the quality of the Black Warrior River.  

“Black Warrior Riverkeeper is doing a very good job of doing hands-on work and making a difference everybody can join in,” Hall said. “All it takes is one person to pick that bottle up and it instantly makes Alabama more safe and beautiful.” 

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