Red Rock Update

October 21st, 2014 by

New side­walks and trails bring meaningful

con­nec­tions to Pratt City.

by Ryan Parker, Red Rock Trail Coordinator

The Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail Sys­tem, a pro­posed net­work of over 750 miles of side­walks, bike lanes, and trails through­out the Birm­ing­ham region, is designed to pro­vide con­nec­tions.  That means cre­at­ing safe envi­ron­ments that con­nect peo­ple to the places they want to go, such as the local library, cor­ner store, and neigh­bor­hood park.  It also means work­ing region­ally to pro­vide safe trans­porta­tion choices between com­mu­ni­ties and devel­op­ing a mean­ing­ful trail net­work that will col­lec­tively ben­e­fit res­i­dents, neigh­bor­hoods, and cities.

The new side­walks and trails in the Pratt City neigh­bor­hood of Birm­ing­ham are a model exam­ple of both types of con­nec­tions, improv­ing access to Jim­mie Hud­son Park and Howze-Sanford Park, as well as the recently rebuilt Pratt City Library that was destroyed in tor­nado on April 27, 2011.

A new pedes­trian bridge over Vil­lage Creek was also added, link­ing neigh­bor­hoods in Pratt City to the adja­cent Ens­ley com­mu­nity.  Addi­tional projects are also under­way to extend the con­nec­tions beyond Ens­ley, to down­town Birm­ing­ham and Red Moun­tain Park.

Just over a month after the storms rav­aged Pratt City in 2011, U.S. Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Ray LaHood vis­ited the area and vowed to assist the com­mu­nity in rebuild­ing efforts.  Through a Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture grant, bro­ken streets are repaved and new side­walks and trails are built.  Res­i­dents now have safe, con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion options that improve regional sus­tain­abil­ity and enhance local qual­ity of life.

More than four miles of new trails and side­walks on the ground in Pratt City bring us one step closer to a regional net­work of trails, side­walks, and bike lanes that con­nect peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties together.

sidewalks library

Side­walks at Pratt City Library

Pratt City

New side­walks along Pratt Highway

Trail to Howze Sanford park

Trail to Howze San­ford park

Pedestrian bridge over Village Creek

Pedes­trian bridge over Vil­lage Creek

FWLT Work Days

October 14th, 2014 by

Wells Fargo Workday Moss Rock Preserve_00035_140530Inter­ested in a ser­vice work day?

Each Spring and Fall, the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust hosts work days with local busi­nesses on sev­eral of our prop­er­ties, includ­ing Wild­wood Nature Pre­serve in Home­wood, the Joyce and Jerry Lan­ning Chest­nut Orchard on Chan­dler Moun­tain, McCal­lum Park in Ves­tavia Hills, among many others.

Work days allow our cor­po­rate part­ners and other Birm­ing­ham busi­nesses to get their hands dirty for a good cause, while also allow­ing the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust to fos­ter rela­tion­ships and part­ner­ships with the busi­ness community.

We’ve worked with many dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions from large cor­po­ra­tions to small non­prof­its. This past spring, Wells Fargo, Honda Man­u­fac­tur­ing of Alabama, Inte­grated Med­ical Sys­tems, UAB, Alabama Power, and Bishop May of the Lat­ter Day Saints were all able to par­tic­i­pate in projects that con­serve places in Alabama that are invalu­able to future generations.

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The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust will be happy to work with you to find the best vol­un­teer oppor­tu­nity suited for your orga­ni­za­tion. If you are inter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing in a work day, con­tact us today at 205–417-2777 or email Zac Napier, FWLT Land Stew­ard, at

Honored by ABA

October 9th, 2014 by

Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust receives pres­ti­gious award from the Amer­i­can Bar Association

environment-vert-blackThe Fresh­wa­ter Land trust is hon­ored to receive the 2014 Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion (ABA) Award for Excel­lence in Envi­ron­men­tal, Energy and Resources Stew­ard­ship. Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Wendy Jack­son has trav­eled to Miami, Florida this week to offi­cially accept the award at the ABA Sec­tion of Envi­ron­ment, Energy and Resources Fall Conference.

This award was estab­lished in 2002 to rec­og­nize and honor the accom­plish­ments of a per­son, orga­ni­za­tion or group that has dis­tin­guishes itself in envi­ron­men­tal, energy and resources stewardship.

We are just a reflec­tion of the great work of our sup­port­ers and part­ners,” Wendy Jack­son, FWLT Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, said. “I am so proud to accept this award on behalf of our orga­ni­za­tion and our community.”

We thank our friends and sup­port­ers at Balch & Bing­ham, a Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust Cor­po­rate Part­ner for Con­ser­va­tion, who nom­i­nated us for this pres­ti­gious award. We greatly appre­ci­ate you rec­og­niz­ing our efforts to pre­serve the places that mat­ter, and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to ful­fill our mis­sion with your support.

Walk to School!

October 7th, 2014 by

Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust cel­e­brates National Walk to School Day

This week, we’re cel­e­brat­ing National Walk to School Day, a day when stu­dents from com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try come together to walk to school.

Thanks to our local Safe Routes to School pro­gram, we were able to take part in the National Walk to School Day cel­e­bra­tion at Oxmoor Val­ley Ele­men­tary dur­ing our monthly Red Rock Tues­day seg­ment on Fox 6’s Good Day Alabama.










Safe Routes to School is a pro­gram ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing safe, con­ve­nient and fun oppor­tu­ni­ties that encour­age chil­dren to be more phys­i­cally active by walk­ing, bik­ing or skat­ing to and from school. Part of this pro­gram includes “walk­ing school busses,” where chil­dren walk a planned route to school with trained pro­fes­sion­als and par­ents, much like a tra­di­tional school bus planned route. This inno­v­a­tive pro­gram is rooted in col­lab­o­ra­tive part­ner­ships with com­mu­nity lead­ers, par­ents, non­profit orga­ni­za­tions, edu­ca­tors and elected offi­cials with an empha­sis on safety and accessibility.

Dur­ing this month’s seg­ment of Red Rock Tues­day, Jeh Jeh Pruitt and the Fox 6 Team joined us as we walked with stu­dents from Oxmoor Val­ley Ele­men­tary to cel­e­brate National Walk to School Day. Spe­cial guests included rep­re­sen­ta­tives from our local Safe Routes to School pro­gram, the United Way of Cen­tral Alabama, the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health, and the Regional Plan­ning Commission.











We boarded the walk­ing school bus at a nearby apart­ment com­plex with almost 100 Oxmoor Val­ley Ele­men­tary students.



Oxmoor Val­ley Ele­men­tary Students













It was extremely inspir­ing to see these chil­dren ener­gized and excited to walk to school,” Wendy Jack­son, FWLT Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, said. “We’re proud to work with our part­ners on this project to encour­age active living.”

Are you cel­e­brat­ing National Walk to School Day? We want to hear from you! Send us your pho­tos and be fea­tured on our Face­book! Email your National Walk to School Day pho­tos to, and don’t for­get to Like us on Facebook!

Click here for more infor­ma­tion on Safe Routes to School of Cen­tral Alabama.

The offi­cial National Walk to School Day is Wednes­day, Oct. 8th. Learn more here.


From the Field

October 3rd, 2014 by
Village Creek Canyon

Vil­lage Creek Canyon

Tour­ing Vil­lage Creek Canyon

by: Zac Napier

This Sat­ur­day the Birm­ing­ham Botan­i­cal Gar­dens Cer­tifi­cate in Native Plant Stud­ies class will be vis­it­ing an unknown trea­sure sit­u­ated in the west­ern side of Birmingham.

The Vil­lage Creek Canyon, a little-known Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust prop­erty, is home to the south­ern­most pop­u­la­tion of Tsuga canaden­sis, Cana­dian hem­lock. In this scenic and botan­i­cally rich 300 acre par­cel of land, a micro-climate exists (due to high north-facing bluffs) which sup­ports a vari­ety of plant species nor­mally found far­ther north.

The par­cel offers a wide vari­ety of habi­tats from cool and wet bottom-land flood­plains to high and dry south fac­ing shale ridge tops. Vis­its to the site this year have revealed three species of plants never-before doc­u­mented for Jef­fer­son County. Who knows what other trea­sures exist therein?

Visit the Birm­ing­ham Botan­i­cal Gar­dens web­site for more infor­ma­tion at:

Partners for Health

October 1st, 2014 by

rc3Con­grat­u­la­tions to UAB’s Minor­ity Health and Health Dis­par­i­ties Research Cen­ter (MHRC) for receiv­ing a $3 mil­lion from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to reduce chronic dis­eases in under­served Birm­ing­ham neigh­bor­hoods by improv­ing nutri­tion and phys­i­cal activity.

The award is part of a U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (HHS) ini­tia­tive to sup­port pub­lic health efforts to reduce chronic dis­eases, pro­mote health­ier lifestyles, reduce health dis­par­i­ties, and con­trol health-care spending.

The project, “Birm­ing­ham REACH for Bet­ter Health,” is a part­ner­ship between UAB, the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health, United Way of Cen­tral Alabama, Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust, Birm­ing­ham YMCA, REV Birm­ing­ham, Safe Routes to School, and the City of Birm­ing­ham. These orga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent the Health Action Part­ner­ship, a coali­tion of more than 100 orga­ni­za­tional mem­bers that have worked together since 2007. The project will last three years and will reach more than 116,000 peo­ple. Activ­i­ties will be focused on improv­ing nutri­tion and phys­i­cal activ­ity, which are risk fac­tors for a num­ber of chronic diseases.

In addi­tion to the project’s aim to increase the num­ber of peo­ple with access to healthy food and bev­er­ages, it also plans to increase the num­ber of peo­ple with access to phys­i­cal activ­ity oppor­tu­ni­ties. The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is involved in this aspect of the grant, which will expand the Safe Routes to School pro­gram, increase the num­ber of com­plete streets (streets with side­walks and bike lanes or share-the-road sig­nage), boost the use of neigh­bor­hood trails and com­mu­nity parks, and cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for no-cost, low-impact phys­i­cal activ­ity in under­served communities.

We are proud to be involved in these efforts to improve pub­lic health and encour­age exer­cise in under­served Birm­ing­ham neigh­bor­hoods by bring­ing safe, healthy and mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions to trails and green­space. This unique part­ner­ship between UAB, the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health, United Way of Cen­tral Alabama, Birm­ing­ham YMCA, REV Birm­ing­ham, Safe Routes to School, and the City of Birm­ing­ham will bring healthy changes to all our communities!

Fun & Conservation

September 25th, 2014 by

Ready to kick-start the week­end AND sup­port con­ser­va­tion? We’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in sev­eral fun events this week­end, and we hope you can join us!

Pint Night at Moun­tain High Outfitters—Thursday, 9/25 6-8pm: Join us and our friends with Roots Rated for Pint Night at Moun­tain High Out­fit­ters in Cahaba Vil­lage (next to Whole Foods). Enjoy live music and beer from the Cahaba Brew­ing Com­pany. Pint glasses will be for sale for $5 and those pro­ceeds will be donated to the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust! We’ll have a FWLT table at the event as well. Here is a link to the event:

AWF Wild Game Cookoff—Thursday, 9/25 6-10pm:  The Birm­ing­ham chap­ter of Alabama Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion presents the AWF Wild Game Cookoff at Rail­road Park. Admis­sion to this event is $40.00 per couple/person prior to the event or $50.00 at the door. Your ticket price includes com­pli­men­tary food and a one year AWF Mem­ber­ship for you or your guest. This event will fea­ture live music and a silent auc­tion. All pro­ceeds ben­e­fit the Alabama Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion. For more infor­ma­tion please visit

Boule­vard Blast 5K in Norwood—Saturday, 9/27 8am:  FWLT is help­ing spon­sor Norwood’s Boule­vard Blast. Run­ners, walk­ers and fam­i­lies across Birm­ing­ham are encour­aged to enjoy the wind­ing, tree-lined boule­vard in the his­toric Nor­wood neigh­bor­hood and see grand 100-year-old homes once belong­ing to Birmingham’s early founders. The Nor­wood Resource Cen­ter is orga­niz­ing the event and has been pro­mot­ing healthy lifestyle choices to Nor­wood res­i­dents for the last two years through the Nor­wood Learn­ing Gar­dens and the Mar­ket at the Trol­ley Stop, a farm­ers mar­ket offer­ing fresh pro­duce that will be open on the day of the event. Reg­is­tra­tion begins at 7:30am.  Click here for reg­is­tra­tion info.

Nature Walk at Moss Rock Preserve—Saturday, 9/27 9am:  Enjoy this fall walk­ing expe­ri­ence with the Birm­ing­ham Botan­i­cal Gar­dens at Moss Rock Pre­serve, home to a dis­tinc­tive ecosys­tem of Alabama’s most rare plants. You’ll explore boul­der fields, walk across streams and into forests and mead­ows. Tick­ets are $35 for Botan­i­cal Gar­den mem­bers are $40 for non-members. Learn more here.

Cahaba River Fry-Down—Sunday, 9/28 12-4pm:  The Cahaba River Soci­ety is host­ing their annual fundrais­ing event at Trussville Springs this Sun­day. This event sup­ports Cahaba con­ser­va­tion and offers fun edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties for all ages. Tick­ets are free for chil­dren under 12, and $20 for adults. For more info, click here.

Rally 2014

September 23rd, 2014 by

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust staff recently attended Rally 2014, the national Land Trust Alliance con­fer­ence. Rally is held annu­ally, and land trusts from across the coun­try look for­ward to com­ing together to net­work and learn from one another.

fern wall

Ryan Parker, Rebekah Parker, & Mem­o­rie English









This year, nearly 1,800 con­ser­va­tion­ists attended the national con­fer­ence in Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island. With more than 100 work­shops and 17 diverse, in-depth sem­i­nars to choose from, it was a won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to learn about enhanc­ing our best prac­tices and get inno­v­a­tive ideas for new projects.


State House, Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island











Our own Rebekah Parker and Ryan Parker both were cho­sen to lead work­shops at Rally. Rebekah was proud to present about the suc­cess of our Turkey Creek dam removal project, explain­ing how we estab­lished unique part­ner­ships with cor­po­ra­tions and foun­da­tions to remove the struc­ture and open up an addi­tional half mile of habi­tat for the endan­gered Ver­mil­ion Darter. Ryan Parker was joined by Dr. Mark Wil­son, CEO of the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health (JCDH), to present about the ben­e­fits of health and con­ser­va­tion groups work­ing together to improve pub­lic health. Ryan and Dr. Wil­son shared their story of how the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust and the health depart­ment have worked together on the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail Sys­tem to pro­vide mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions to parks and green­space through­out Jef­fer­son County in an effort to encour­age exer­cise and improve health con­di­tions in our community.

dam partnerships

Rebekah Parker’s pre­sen­ta­tion, “Part­ner­ships can be Dam Fun”

dr wilson

Wendy Jack­son and Dr. Mark Wilson










Michelle O’Neal, Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust Board Chair, also attended Rally and was able to rep­re­sent West­er­velt Eco­log­i­cal Ser­vices at a booth through­out the conference.


Bry­d­ing Adams, Michelle O’Neal, Wendy Jack­son & Rebekah Parker










Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust staff mem­bers attended work­shops and sem­i­nars on a vari­ety of top­ics, includ­ing land acqui­si­tions, fundrais­ing and out­reach, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and urban green­space devel­op­ment. We also were able to net­work with other land trust rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the South­east­ern region and the Land Trust Alliance Ambas­sadors group.

How­ever, the high­light of Rally was cel­e­brat­ing our accred­i­ta­tion renewal. Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Wendy Jack­son proudly accepted our accred­i­ta­tion cer­tifi­cate at the open­ing ple­nary ses­sion. We are proud to share this great accom­plish­ment and mark of dis­tinc­tion with 280 land trusts from across the coun­try, indi­cat­ing to the pub­lic that we meet national stan­dards for excel­lence, uphold the pub­lic trust and ensure that con­ser­va­tion efforts are permanent.

accreditation accept

Wendy Jack­son at Accred­i­ta­tion Ceremony











Thank you to the Land Trust Alliance for host­ing such an enrich­ing event! It was a plea­sure to come together with the nation’s best lead­ers in con­ser­va­tion to share our pas­sion for pre­serv­ing the places that mat­ter.



Flow Chart: Summer 2014

September 12th, 2014 by

Down­load our newly designed cor­po­rate newslet­ter, Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust Flow Chart.



August 25th, 2014 by

small logo

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust Earns Con­tin­ued National Recognition

Renewed Accred­i­ta­tion Awarded by the Land Trust Accred­i­ta­tion Commission

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust has achieved renewed land trust accred­i­ta­tion from the Land Trust Accred­i­ta­tion Com­mis­sion, an inde­pen­dent pro­gram of the Land Trust Alliance.

This accred­i­ta­tion helps us con­tinue to carry out our mis­sion of pre­serv­ing the spe­cial places that mat­ter in Alabama, and we are proud and hon­ored to be rec­og­nized as meet­ing national stan­dards of excel­lence,” Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Wendy Jack­son said.  “This mark of dis­tinc­tion allows us to posi­tion our­selves among the com­mu­nity as ded­i­cated stew­ards of Alabama’s excep­tional and irre­place­able nat­ural her­itage, leav­ing a per­ma­nent legacy for future gen­er­a­tions to admire.”

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is a 501©(3) non­profit orga­ni­za­tion that acquires, con­serves and con­nects open spaces that are crit­i­cal for the pro­tec­tion of rivers and streams and that pro­vide recre­ational oppor­tu­ni­ties for the com­mu­nity. Its mis­sion is the acqui­si­tion and stew­ard­ship of lands that enhance water qual­ity and pre­serve open space. The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust con­serves land in Jef­fer­son, Shelby, Blount, Chilton, Bibb, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa, and Walker coun­ties. Some of the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust’s projects include Red Moun­tain Park, the Five Mile Creek Green­way Part­ner­ship, the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail Sys­tem, Turkey Creek Nature Pre­serve, Tapawingo Springs, Moss Rock pre­serve expan­sion in Hoover, Wild­wood Pre­serve in Home­wood, the Cahaba River­walk on Grants Mill Road, among sev­eral others.

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust­was awarded renewed accred­i­ta­tion this August and is one of only 280 land trusts from across the coun­try that are now accred­ited. Accred­ited land trusts are autho­rized to dis­play a seal indi­cat­ing to the pub­lic that they meet national stan­dards for excel­lence, uphold the pub­lic trust and ensure that con­ser­va­tion efforts are per­ma­nent. The seal is a mark of dis­tinc­tion in land conservation.

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is one of the first land trusts to achieve renewed accred­i­ta­tion, a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment for the land trust and sig­nif­i­cant major mile­stone for the accred­i­ta­tion pro­gram. They are an impor­tant mem­ber of the 280 accred­ited land trusts that pro­tect more than half of the 20,645,165 acres cur­rently owned in fee or pro­tected by a con­ser­va­tion ease­ment held by a land trust,” said Com­mis­sion Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Tam­mara Van Ryn. “Accred­i­ta­tion renewal, which must be com­pleted every five years, pro­vides the pub­lic with an assur­ance that accred­ited land trusts con­tinue to meet exceed­ingly high stan­dards for quality.”

Each land trust that achieved renewed accred­i­ta­tion sub­mit­ted exten­sive doc­u­men­ta­tion and under­went a rig­or­ous review. “Through accred­i­ta­tion renewal land trusts are part of an impor­tant eval­u­a­tion and improve­ment process that ver­i­fies their oper­a­tions con­tinue to be effec­tive, strate­gic and in accor­dance with strict require­ments,” said Van Ryn. “Accred­ited orga­ni­za­tions have engaged cit­i­zen con­ser­va­tion lead­ers and improved sys­tems for ensur­ing that their con­ser­va­tion work is permanent.”

Accord­ing to the Land Trust Alliance, con­serv­ing land helps ensure clean air and drink­ing water; safe, healthy food; scenic land­scapes and views; recre­ational places; and habi­tat for the diver­sity of life on earth. In addi­tion to health and food ben­e­fits, con­serv­ing land increases prop­erty val­ues near green­belts, saves tax dol­lars by encour­ag­ing more effi­cient devel­op­ment, and reduces the need for expen­sive water fil­tra­tion facil­i­ties. Across the coun­try, local cit­i­zens and com­mu­ni­ties have come together to form more than 1,700 land trusts to save the places they love. Com­mu­nity lead­ers in land trusts through­out the coun­try have worked with will­ing landown­ers to save over 47 mil­lion acres of farms, forests, parks and places peo­ple care about, includ­ing land trans­ferred to pub­lic agen­cies and pro­tected via other means. Strong, well-managed land trusts pro­vide local com­mu­ni­ties with effec­tive cham­pi­ons and care­tak­ers of their crit­i­cal land resources, and safe­guard the land through the generations.

We are proud to dis­play the accred­i­ta­tion seal and look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing our work in mak­ing land con­ser­va­tion a pri­or­ity in our region,” said Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Wendy Jackson.

About the Land Trust Accred­i­ta­tion Commission

The Land Trust Accred­i­ta­tion Com­mis­sion, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., inspires excel­lence, pro­motes pub­lic trust and ensures per­ma­nence in the con­ser­va­tion of open lands by rec­og­niz­ing land trust orga­ni­za­tions that meet rig­or­ous qual­ity stan­dards and that strive for con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. The Com­mis­sion, estab­lished in 2006 as an inde­pen­dent pro­gram of the Land Trust Alliance, is gov­erned by a vol­un­teer board of diverse land con­ser­va­tion and non­profit man­age­ment experts from around the coun­try. See a com­plete list of all recently accred­ited land trusts online at More infor­ma­tion on the accred­i­ta­tion pro­gram is avail­able on the Commission’s web­site,

About The Land Trust Alliance

The Land Trust Alliance, of which The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is a mem­ber, is a national con­ser­va­tion group that works to save the places peo­ple love by strength­en­ing con­ser­va­tion through­out Amer­ica. It works to increase the pace and qual­ity of con­ser­va­tion by advo­cat­ing favor­able tax poli­cies, train­ing land trusts in best prac­tices and work­ing to ensure the per­ma­nence of con­ser­va­tion in the face of con­tin­u­ing threats. The Alliance pub­lishes Land Trust Stan­dards and Prac­tices and pro­vides finan­cial and admin­is­tra­tive sup­port to the Com­mis­sion. It has estab­lished an endow­ment to help ensure the suc­cess of the accred­i­ta­tion pro­gram and keep it afford­able for land trusts of all sizes to par­tic­i­pate in accred­i­ta­tion. More infor­ma­tion can be found at