The main purpose of this site is to serve as a directory of citizen groups operating within Alabama formed out of concern for natural resource and environmental issues. We have created and maintained this site to document the number and range of interests of such non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Alabama, and to facilitate communication between groups which share common interests. We have included links to NGOs in neighboring states and to several government agencies active in natural resource and environmental issues. Our primary interest, however, is with citizen groups within Alabama.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this directory should not be taken to mean that those involved in creation of this site agree with or support the concerns or actions of any group listed here. Similarly, inclusion in this directory does not mean, express, or imply that Auburn University or any administrative unit or individual employed by Auburn University supports the concerns or actions of any group listed here

Alabama is endowed with a diversity of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. These resources have played a critically important role in the state’s social and economic history and will continue to do so into the next century. The state’s wealth of natural resources contrasts starkly with the poverty of large numbers of its citizens. Research conducted under a previous NRI project has documented that nowhere in the United States is the connection between natural resource dependency and poverty more clearly demonstrated than in Alabama (Bailey et al. 1996; Bliss et al. 1994a; Howze et al. 1994). Historically, natural resources (e.g., coal, timber, ground water and surface water, farm land, and fisheries) have been exploited with little regard to long-term consequences. At the close of the 20th Century, this extractive mind-set has been largely replaced by a narrow commodity production mind-set within both resource-based industries and related public institutions. A sustainable, resource-based rural development strategy has yet to be articulated for the state.

Alabama’s citizens are neither ignorant nor apathetic toward their environmental and social circumstances. In recent years, citizens have begun to organize themselves into non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to address environmental and social issues of local concern. Most existing, NGOs have environmental. objectives, while others work in the social justice arena. Few explicitly pursue, sustainable development goals which span both areas. The objectives of this proposed project are to document the phenomenon of increased citizen activism, to identify resources within the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) which could improve NGO effectiveness, and facilitate development of collaborative mechanisms between NGOs and ACES to promote sustainable development in Alabama.

In recent years researchers and development practitioners alike have come to realize the interconnectedness of natural environments and human well-being, (Kusel and Fortmann 1991; Rural Sociological Society Task Force 1993). Natural resource policy and rural development policy need to be linked if either are to provide a basis for sustainable development. The growth in numbers and activism of citizen groups in the United States, including in Alabama, is indicative of dissatisfaction with the pace and focus of public institutions charged with responding to these problems. As a Land Grant university, Auburn University has a clear responsibility to meet the needs of Alabama’s citizens for. sustainable development. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, comprising the former Extension Services of Auburn University and Alabama A&M University, has a key role to play in shaping policies for sustainable development. The Extension System in Alabama, like counterparts in other states, is going through a crisis of identity as resources are shifted away from agricultural production and towards broader social mandates, including sustainable development. This project will contribute to this process. We see in this proposed project opportunities to accelerate the pace at which positive change occurs in Alabama by strengthening the capacity of citizen groups and the university community, including the Extension System, to jointly identify and work to resolve problems.