30 Years. 30 Supporters.
South Alabama LandTrust has thrived for 30 years, thanks to hundreds of supporters ranging from casual volunteers to major donors to land owners.
As part of our anniversary celebration, we are telling stories of 30 individuals who have put their stamp on local conservation through their time, talent or treasure. We hope that in reading their stories you will meet an assortment of like-minded people who enjoy the abundance of natural resources—the land, the water, and the wildlife—in south Alabama, and who are doing their part to protect what we have today, and for the tomorrows of those who come behind us.
Thomas and Sharon McPherron live part-time in a treehouse on Dauphin Island. Not an actual treehouse, but the floor-to-ceiling “storefront” windows on the second floor (the main living area) of their two-story home certainly gives the impression of being in the treetops.
“We said to our builder, ‘we do not want a tree cut unless it’s absolutely necessary’,” Sharon said of their home on the east end of the island. Built in 2008, the minimalist house has metal siding and enough windows to “bring the outside in.” It’s their second home on Dauphin Island; the first house was on the west end and was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.
The McPherrons have been coming to Dauphin Island from St. Louis since 1971. It was, as they said, the closest nice beach to St. Louis. Sharon had a faculty job, so she and their children would spend summers on the island. Today, she and Thomas spend spring and fall here.
In 2017, the McPherrons donated the parcel adjacent to their home to South Alabama Land Trust. “Where we are, there’s the dune and a series of lots,” Sharon said. “The lots are important to the protection of the dunes.”
The lots along the dunes flood during heavy rain, Thomas added, but they don’t get the storm surge. The McPherrons said they wanted to donate the property to an accredited organization with a full time staff and a succession plan so the property would be protected forever.
If we keep building, all these woods will disappear,” Thomas said, “and there will be ramifications for that.”
A native of Baldwin County, Suzanne Corrington, M.D., has many fond memories of discovering and exploring the waterways of South Alabama.
“A friend in high school taught me how to throw a cast net in Weeks Bay,” Corrington recalled. “She and her family lived next to the water. I loved the look, sounds and smell of it. I learned to water ski in Magnolia River. My grandparents had a house very near Bon Secour and I have wonderful memories of that area.”
During her years of medical training, her focus shifted to Mobile County. “In medical school I skied on Dog River. I knew every inch of Dog River.
“Environmental issues have mattered to me as long as I can remember,” she said. “The underlying theme seems to be water.” The connection, she noted, between the waterways and the species that depend on them, is evident. Now a Tennessee resident, Corrington often returns for visits, which usually include time for birding on Dauphin Island.
“As a basic level birder, it is obvious that protecting wetlands and areas that provide food and shelter along the migratory pathway is crucial. The same is true in breeding areas.”
Corrington said she recognizes that the natural resources she and so many others value depend on the choices individuals make. While many seek solace in nature, she noted that not everyone takes responsibility for sustaining it.
“We recognize that natural areas sustain us,” she said. “but there’s a disconnect. We don’t do the things to take care of it.” Her contributions to South Alabama Land Trust and other organizations that work to support natural ecosystems is her way of making that connection.