News | February 5, 2016

Alabama attorney recognized for work to protect Cahaba River

Sarah Stokes, staff attorney in SELC’s Birmingham office, was named 2015 Cahaba Conservationist of the Year by the Cahaba River Society at their annual meeting in January. The recognition highlights her ongoing work to improve and strengthen stormwater pollution permits throughout the watershed and implement those protections for Alabama’s Cahaba River.

Sarah Stokes, right, with Cahaba River Society Executive Director Beth Stewart.

The Cahaba River is Alabama’s longest remaining stretch of free-flowing river, serves as a primary drinking water source, and is known for its rich biological diversity as it has more fish species per mile than any other river in North America.

Below is an excerpt from remarks made by Beth Stewart, Cahaba River Society’s Executive Director, upon giving Stokes the award.

“Sarah supports our work with the Environmental Protection Agency, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and local governments to change policies, regulations, and codes. The path to that outcome is very complicated, long term, and has many hurdles. Sarah has helped us find that path and stay on it past setbacks, always finding a new way because of her legal expertise, creativity, and dogged commitment. She researches, keeps up with every opportunity, drafts pages and pages of comments, builds relationships with regulators, and she helps us bring together the Alabama Stormwater Partner groups from across the state to multiply our impact.

“And now we are seeing significant gains as a result, as the state is improving the stormwater permits for Cahaba and Black Warrior cities and counties one by one.”