Alabama Coastal Foundation’s Bethany Kraft on the Gulf Oil Spill

June 4, 2010 | By | Comments (4)

Header_03 On
May 18
th, we met with Bethany Kraft, Executive Director for the
Alabama Coastal Foundation in Mobile, Alabama. Although the oil has not reached
the coastline of Alabama yet, we talked with Bethany about how the town prepares
for such a disaster, what volunteers can do, and how you can help from your
—Jacquelyne Froeber, Travel Editor

Tell us a bit about the Alabama Coastal Foundation.

In 1993, the ACF started out with a mission that enforces protecting and
improving coastal resources by bringing stakeholders and organizations together
to find solutions. We provide the science, information, and facts to the public
and encourage people to make decisions from there. We also offer opportunities
(festivals, kids programs, volunteer efforts) for the public to play a role in
caring for our environment.

What has been your role so far in the Gulf oil spill?

BK: Right
now, we are in incident command. This is the structure the government has
implemented to respond to situations like this, or situations like hurricanes.
We are partnering with local organizations in advocating the highest protective
measures for fragile coastlines, and also providing information to citizens and
elected officials. For example, the booms: We are working to make sure the
booms are placed where they need to be and that boaters/people understand why
they are important. How You Can Help!

So what exactly is a boom?

There are two main types: the yellow or orange booms most commonly seen in the
Gulf are known as hard booms. They float on top of the water (but they are not
squishy), and below is a 4 to 8-foot long sail that traps the oil and keeps it
from migrating across the boom.

second, sorbent booms, will absorb oil, and you will see it ahead or behind the
hard boom as an extra measure.

Why won’t we see booms along the beach right now?

The beach is actually the least important area to protect if you have limited
boom. You want to protect the estuaries first and the beach last because the
beach is easier to clean up. It’s very, very difficult to clean an estuary.

How can volunteers help?

At this time, we are working with the Mobile Baykeeper to figure out a process
for volunteers. Hopefully in the next three weeks, depending on the situation,
unpaid volunteers will have an opportunity to get on the water in canoes and
kayaks to document and monitor areas of clean up without coming into contact
with oil or putting themselves in any danger.

And how can people help if they can’t make it down to the Gulf?

There are going to be a lot of organizations down here donating resources. If
you want to donate money, make sure it’s a reputable organization and be
specific with your donation. On our website, we have a button for donations designated
for the Gulf oil spill clean up.

There has been dispersant deployed over the oil to help change the properties
and weigh it down so it becomes less visible…what are your thoughts on this?

I wonder if the “solution” is worse than the problem here. We don’t know enough
about the dispersant, or the long-term effects on water and ocean life. I do
know ingredients in dispersants have cautions including “do not use on surface

How has Mobile changed since April 20th?

It’s almost like a death. We were all walking around like zombies. It doesn’t
seem real. You’re in denial. But then it hits you and all you can do is get the
prep work done and wait. We know it’s coming—we just don’t know when. People in
Mobile—and all across the nation—are moving on to anger. Now we are mad this
happened and we want to do something about it. The silver lining is that people
are going to be more vocal when it comes to protecting natural resources. It’s
a solid connection that if the Gulf wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be able to live my
life the way I want to live it. That is a very powerful thing to realize.


  1. Birmingham bedroom Furniture

    There is again the oil spill on the coast of Alabama which has reached to the surface of the ocean…I think the US govt should take more preventive steps to stop this oil spill…

    July 7, 2010 at 2:39 am
  2. christopher

    I have found it interesting that the amount of oil put into the water did not do more damage. Life is so resilient, we need to be careful with it.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm
  3. mens clothing

    life is so horrible sometimes we need to be very careful

    July 20, 2011 at 10:47 am
  4. portable AC

    Oil..oil…oil… we all need oil but on the other hand it can give bad effects to the environment.. Hopefully there are more eco-friendly technologies!

    February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s