Golden Eagle Award Winner: Jamie Hinton, volunteer fire chief of Magnolia Springs, Ala.

Magnolia Springs, a sleepy small town of 1,000 residents along the Gulf Coast, doesn’t have beaches or a fishing industry.

As far as the rescue effort goes, it’s gotten short shrift from government officials and the BP workers hired to clean up and protect at-risk coastal areas. When workers visited the town last month, they simply laid one strand of containment boom around the bay, which floated away the very same day.

While Magnolia Springs isn’t a tourist mecca, its waters contain 19 federally-protected species, and marshland which marine species need to thrive. As the oil spill approaches the town, it could prove devastating to the marine life along the Coast.

Luckily, the town has Jamie Hinton, a volunteer fire chief, who came up with a plan of his own to protect Magnolia Springs. He came up with a defense system consisting of nine spud barges to prevent the oil from entering Weeks Bay—even though he could face jail time for putting the non-government-approved strategy into play.

County officials told Hinton that the oil was “just sweet crude,” and that he shouldn’t make such a big deal about it.

“I don’t care if it’s sweet, sour, light, or black,” he told the Christian Science Monitor. “I don’t want it in my river.”

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