2024 Cahaba River Society Annual Meeting Recap - Cahaba River Society

Cahaba River Society hosted our annual meeting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia on February 1st. We were thrilled to have the largest turnout on record, indicating increasing passion and support for our efforts to protect and restore the Cahaba River.

This post describes highlights from the event, including:

  • Information about Cahaba River Society’s impact in 2023
  • Memorials for Shane Hulsey and Britt and Judy Butler
  • 2023 Awards
  • A keynote presentation from UAB Creative Writing Professor Halley Cotton, telling the story of her 2023 journey down the navigable length of the Cahaba River
  • A vote on new board members
  • News on upcoming events


7,000 Acres of Birmingham Water Works Board Land Protected

Cahaba River Society, Cahaba Riverkeeper, and Southern Environmental Law Center secured a legal agreement to protect 7,000 acres of forested land around the Birmingham area’s primary drinking water source. This 75-year agreement is the largest single land protection in the history of the Birmingham metropolitan area, and it will protect the health and wallets of our diverse people for generations. The protection also deals a significant blow to efforts to build a major new highway that would threaten the river and our drinking water. Learn more at cahabariversociety.org/BWWB-land-protection.

2023 Impact Reports

Cahaba River Society’s program directors shared additional updates on our 2023 impact. Download our 2023 Impact Report to read more. Highlights include:

  • Education Director La’Tanya Scott was featured at the International Peace Conference in Birmingham.
  • The 2nd Annual Cahaba Bioblitz was a success, bringing together 150 participants and scientists from 7 states and 12 organizations to log 675 observations and 300 species!
  • Executive Director Beth Stewart Wins Alabama Women of Conservation Award
  • The River Ramble returned and was a tremendous success.
  • The 2023 Fry-Down involved 10 community and corporate teams that cooked over 400 pounds of catfish for more than 800 attendees, raising close to $70,000 for our efforts to restore and protect the Cahaba River.
  • River Sustainability engaged with Hoover, Vestavia, and Liberty Park to recommend green infrastructure, floodplain, and river buffer solutions. We also partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Alabama to launch The Urban River Restoration Collaborative.
  • The Shane Hulsey CLEAN Education Program served more than 2,010 students and 310 teachers.
  • 48% of CLEAN participants were people of color, matching our peopleshed demographics.
  • Volunteer Stewardship coordinated events involving 587 volunteers and 35 partner organizations to remove 19,722 total Ibs of litter, recycling, tires, and invasive species.

In Memorium

Shane Harper Hulsey

Education Director La’Tanya Scott shared a moving memorial honoring former Cahaba River Society Education Director Shane Hulsey. Shane dedicated his life to environmental education, leading more than 10,000 students through our CLEAN Education Program and into a more profound love and appreciation for the river. The CLEAN program is now named in his honor.

Shane passed away on October 20, 2006, in a tragic kayaking accident during a trip with friends to Little River Canyon. He was a remarkable human whose life ended too soon, and we still feel his loss. Shane would have turned 50 on October 1, 2023, and his legacy inspires us every day.

Shane’s sister, Ashley Hulsey Coutch, shared her beautiful poem, Teaching With My Brother, written in Shane’s honor. We thank the Hulsey family for continually expressing their love for Shane by championing Cahaba River Society’s education efforts.

Judy and Britt Butler

We paused to remember the 2023 passing of Judy and Britt Butler. Britt was almost 101 years old. He and Judy dedicated untold time and resources to protecting and restoring the Cahaba River.

Britt Butler gave the founding gift that created Cahaba River Society in 1988. He and Judy also created the Abahac Foundation to support environmental causes. Abahac has given generously to Cahaba River Society since 1994.

In addition to remembering Judy and Britt’s lifetime of service, Cahaba River Society honored them by creating the Abahac Award. This new award will be given to donors who have supported Cahaba River Society for 25 years or more. These consistent donations enable us to engage and succeed in decades-long initiatives like the 7,000-acre Birmingham Water Works Board land protection.


Every year, Cahaba River Society gives out awards honoring extraordinary efforts on behalf of protecting and restoring the Cahaba River. We are delighted to present this year’s recipients.

Volunteer of the Year: Arts Trussville and Kathy Prince

Arts Trussville and Kathy Prince created Cahaba Inspired, a juried exhibit honoring art inspired by the Cahaba River. Their collaboration and support brought attention to the river.

Cahaba Conservationist of the Year: Cahaba Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Tricia Sheets

The Cahaba Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Tricia Sheets were honored for securing the protection of 7,000 acres of Birmingham Water Works Board land, together with Cahaba River Society. CRS’s Tricia Sheets worked on this project for decades, and the successful conclusion shows the power of collaboration among these organizations.

Shane Harper Hulsey Educator of the Year

Eric Rowe, former Head of Schools at the Alabama Aerospace & Aviation High
School in Bessemer was honored for his role in bringing new students to the Cahaba River. He is the first awardee of the award renamed to honor Shane.

Abahac Award: Judy and Britt Butler

The inaugural Abahac Award honoring donors who’ve given for 25 years or more was given to Judy and Britt Butler and the Butler Family.


Halley Cotton, a poet, naturalist, and instructor in UAB’s English department, delivered our keynote presentation. She shared about her journey down the navigable length of the Cahaba River last May. Her insights and photography of the expedition were a highlight of the evening. You can read more about Halley’s journey here.


During the Annual Meeting, attendees voted to approve our new board members.

  • Halley Cotton
  • Nora Samayoa
  • Henry Campbell
  • Dr. Scott Snyder
  • Dr. Kerry Brackett

We also honored Past President Courtney Pittman and incoming president Kenya Goodson.