Raptor Warning! Birds of Prey Invading Monroe & Clarke Counties

eagle2Next Wednesday, January 28th, representatives of the Southeastern Raptor Center housed within Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine will be making a special visit to two schools in Monroe and Clarke counties. See: http://www.vetmed.auburn.edu/raptor/.

Sponsored by the Alabama Forestry Foundation as part of its Blackbelt Initiative, students at J. U. Blacksher (Uriah) and Thomasville Elementary (Thomasville) will see live birds of prey including eagles, falcons and owls up-close. As they hear about the impressive adaptations and behaviors of these remarkable birds, students will learn habitat, conservation and ecology of Alabama’s forests.eagle3

Yes…Auburn’s Eagles will be there! Nova (“War Eagle VII”), a golden eagle hatched in 1999, and Spirit (“American Emblem”), a bald eagle weighing nine pounds, are well known as part of one of the greatest football traditions in the country. See http://www.vetmed.auburn.edu/home/programs-and-centers/southeastern-raptor-center/about-the-center/about-our-eagles#.VL_SdS4nuss.

“By bringing the Southeastern Raptor Center to our Black Belt Initiative schools, we hope to pique the interest of students in the outdoors and in Alabama’s abundant forests,” explains Alabama Forestry Association Executive Vice-President Chris Isaacson.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation was founded in 1978 to promote the stewardship and sustainable management of Alabama’s forest resources. The Foundation develops programs that focus on K-12 students, teachers, landowners, and loggers with the goal of sustainably managing Alabama’s abundant and diverse forest resources.

Designed as a multi-phase program, the Alabama Forestry Foundations’ Black Belt Initiative strives to provide job opportunity awareness and enhanced math and science skills while providing a path to future employment in the forest industry for residents in Alabama’s rural communities.
eagle1“Through such interactive educational experiences as the upcoming raptor program at J.U. Blacksher and Thomasville, we encourage student dreams to soar to new heights,” shares Isaacson.

The presentation at J.U. Blacksher will begin at 9:00 am and the presentation at Thomasville Elementary will be at 1:00 pm. The presentations are anticipated to last an hour. AFA members are encouraged to come and visit and participate in the event. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Smith at (334) 481-2133 or asmith@alaforestry.org.

Congressman Byrne Gets It

18 Trillion Dollars…..

You have all heard about this number. It’s our national public debt. It represents $56,501 per U.S. citizen and $154,054 per U.S. taxpayer. And it’s growing. In fact, by the time you read this post, it will have increased by nearly $1 million.

byrneLast week, Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s representative from the 1st Congressional district, introduced House Joint Resolution 12 calling for a constitutional amendment that requires Congress to balance the federal budget.

Thank you Congressman Byrne. You get it. We have to begin somewhere to begin crawling out of this mess and we appreciate your focus and commitment to this matter.

18 trillion dollars is not the whole story. The annual U.S. budget deficit is estimated to currently be about $479 billion dollars. That’s based on federal spending of $3.6 trillion offset by only $3.1 trillion of federal tax revenue. But the $479 billion deficit number does not take into account future liabilities. Things we know are out there that will have to be paid, but government accountants choose to ignore. Things like Social Security, Medicare, federal debt and federal employee and veteran benefits.

When you take the unfunded liabilities into account and use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (like everyone in the private sector has to), the true budget deficit is $5.6 trillion per year. The true U.S. unfunded liabilities have accrued to $92 trillion, or $788,646 per taxpayer.

The total U.S. debt is $59.2 trillion (does not include future unfunded liabilities) which includes debts of individuals, businesses, state and local governments, financial institutions and the Federal Government. This represents $185,163 of debt per U.S. citizen.

Of the total U.S. debt of $59.2 trillion, $16.75 trillion is personal debt which includes $13.2 trillion for mortgages, $1.3 trillion for student loans and $880 billion for credit cards. The average personal debt per U.S. citizen is $52,314.

Wow…these numbers are truly mind boggling. It makes one want to stick their head in the sand and ignore it. Maybe it will all get better someday. It won’t. Not unless we start now doing something about it.

Will Congressman Byrne’s efforts succeed? Unfortunately, probably not. His bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. It will require two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and then must be approved by three-fourths of the states.

Don’t hold your breath.

Another alternative for getting to a balanced budget requirement is for it to originate from the states themselves.  It takes 34 states to call for a constitutional convention.  Currently, 24 states, including Alabama, have passed resolutions calling for a convention.

We will continue to monitor the movement of Congressman Byrne’s bill and the advance of the state’s efforts.  In the meantime, take a moment to thank Congressman Byrne and also contact our other representatives and encourage them to support his efforts.