November 18th, 2014 by


Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust and UAB School of Pub­lic Health Team with National Allies to Com­bat Health Crisis

Coop­er­a­tive Ini­tia­tive Anchored by Wing­spread Declaration

BIRMINGHAM, AL – Dr. Max Michael, Dean of the Uni­ver­sity of Alabama School of Pub­lic Health, and Wendy Jack­son, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust, have part­nered with con­ser­va­tion and health lead­ers from across the coun­try to address the dis­con­nect between humans and the outdoors.

Peo­ple are now more dis­con­nected from nature than ever before,” Wendy Jack­son, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust and Wing­spread Dec­la­ra­tion sig­na­tory, said. “It is our respon­si­bil­ity to shift our focus to reaf­firm the impor­tant con­nec­tion between human health with nature for future generations.”

This coop­er­a­tive ini­tia­tive is anchored by the Wing­spread Dec­la­ra­tion, a doc­u­ment signed by 31 of America’s lead­ing health offi­cials, aca­d­e­mics and conservation-focused non­prof­its, includ­ing Yale Uni­ver­sity, the National Land Trust Alliance, Kaiser Per­ma­nente, Chil­dren and Nature Net­work, and the Open Space Insti­tute. The Dec­la­ra­tion calls for action from health, envi­ron­men­tal, aca­d­e­mic, gov­ern­men­tal and cor­po­rate actors to coop­er­a­tively recon­nect peo­ple with the out­doors and secure new com­mit­ments to pro­tect access to green spaces.

This Ini­tia­tive rec­og­nizes the impor­tance of a liv­able envi­ron­ment for our health and well-being, includ­ing the oppor­tu­nity to spend time out­side enjoy­ing the ben­e­fits of that envi­ron­ment,” Dr. Max Michael, Dean of UAB School of Pub­lic Health, said. “By sign­ing this Dec­la­ra­tion, it is hoped we bring fur­ther atten­tion to the remark­able invest­ments our com­mu­nity is mak­ing in cre­at­ing the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail sys­tem, for example.”

This new ini­tia­tive comes at a time when more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, incur­ring $148 bil­lion in med­ical costs annu­ally and con­tribut­ing to 18% of U.S. adult deaths. Pub­licly avail­able data shows U.S. health­care costs are the high­est per capita in the world – and that amount con­tin­ues to increase, par­tic­u­larly in Alabama and the south­east­ern United States.

Time out­doors is known to improve people’s well-being. Peo­ple with­out access to the out­doors can be linked to higher rates of anx­i­ety dis­or­ders and of mood dis­or­ders, such as depres­sion. How­ever, expo­sure to green space coun­ters these ten­den­cies. Peo­ple who live near nat­ural set­tings are likely to report bet­ter men­tal health; urban parks are known to lower stress and ele­vate mood; and stud­ies have even linked green neigh­bor­hoods with lower rates of obe­sity in chil­dren and longer life spans in elders.

Pro­vid­ing peo­ple with mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions to parks, trails and green spaces cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where healthy choices are easy choices,” Jack­son said. “These con­nec­tions will trans­form the phys­i­cal, eco­nomic, envi­ron­men­tal and social well-being of our com­mu­ni­ties, and the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is proud to be play­ing an active role in this impor­tant ini­tia­tive with part­ners like UAB’s School of Pub­lic Health.”

Health and con­ser­va­tion lead­ers are dis­cussing and sup­port­ing the Wing­spread Dec­la­ra­tion this week at mile­stone meet­ings in New Orleans and Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. Over 13,000 health providers at the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Health Association’s annual meet­ing in New Orleans and 5,000 parks and con­ser­va­tion pro­fes­sion­als at the IUCN World Parks Con­gress in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, will learn more about the Dec­la­ra­tion and its goals.

Addi­tional sup­port­ers are also respond­ing to the Declaration’s call on health insti­tu­tions to include nature in their prac­tices and pre­scrip­tions; call on schools to ensure all chil­dren grow up con­nected to nature; call on elected offi­cials and phil­an­thropists to invest in parks, trails and green spaces; and call on employ­ers to recon­nect their employ­ees with nature.

We are for­tu­nate and excited to be a part of this grow­ing national move­ment that makes Birm­ing­ham a national leader in assur­ing every­one in our com­mu­nity reaps the health ben­e­fits of the out­doors,” said Dr. Max Michael.

Visit to learn more about and endorse the Wing­spread Declaration.

About the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust

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. It is accred­ited by the Land Trust Accred­i­ta­tion Com­mis­sion, which rec­og­nizes it as meet­ing stan­dards of excel­lence, uphold­ing the public’s trust and ensur­ing that con­ser­va­tion efforts are per­ma­nent. The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust con­serves land in Jef­fer­son, Shelby, Blount, Chilton, Bibb, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa, and Walker coun­ties. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit

About the Uni­ver­sity of Alabama at Birm­ing­ham School of Pub­lic Health

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Another Dam Update

November 14th, 2014 by


Well…it’s been a dam year! This week we cel­e­brate the one year anniver­sary of the removal of Old Shadow Lake Dam on Turkey Creek—one of our most suc­cess­ful projects with impact­ful results.

One year ago, the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust suc­cess­fully removed Old Shadow Lake Dam on Turkey Creek near Pin­son. Not only was the dan­ger­ous struc­ture removed, but the project also opened up an addi­tional half mile of habi­tat for the endan­gered ver­mil­ion darter – a fish that before this project only had about seven miles of habi­tat in the world.








Thanks to fund­ing from the National Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion, the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust is mov­ing for­ward with replant­i­ngs to sta­bi­lize the bank fol­low­ing the removal. Father Nature Land­scapes, a Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust sup­porter, has been a huge help in deter­min­ing appro­pri­ate species and place­ment of the plants to best serve the creek bank. Next steps in the restora­tion project include sam­pling the ver­mil­ion darter pop­u­la­tion to see if they are thriv­ing in their addi­tional half mile of habi­tat. We are also hop­ing to host more work days at the site to remove inva­sive species and con­tinue to estab­lish veg­e­ta­tion to secure the creek bank.

This project was only accom­plished through part­ner­ships with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, Action Envi­ron­men­tal, National Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion, Vul­can Mate­ri­als Com­pany, Alabama Power, Bras­field & Gor­rie Equip­ment and Sup­ply, the City of Clay, and a host of other supporters.








Con­tin­ued restora­tion work is made pos­si­ble by Alabama Power with a grant through the Five Star Restora­tion Pro­gram, which involves mul­ti­ple part­ners includ­ing Alabama Power and its par­ent com­pany South­ern Com­pany, National Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion, and the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.








As we cel­e­brate the one year anniver­sary of this project, we want to thank our part­ners for their con­tin­ued sup­port on this final phase of the project. We appre­ci­ate your con­tri­bu­tions as we com­plete yet another project with long term impacts and sig­nif­i­cant change for our community.

More on NFWF:

Char­tered by Con­gress in 1984, the National Fish & Wildlife Foun­da­tion (NFWF) pro­tects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife and habi­tats. Work­ing with fed­eral agen­cies, cor­po­ra­tions, foun­da­tions and indi­vid­ual part­ners, NFWF has funded more than 34,000 orga­ni­za­tions and com­mit­ted more than $2.3 bil­lion to con­ser­va­tion projects. For more info on NFWF visit


Bike Birmingham

November 4th, 2014 by

We had a great time this morn­ing dur­ing our monthly Red Rock Tues­day seg­ment with Fox 6 Good Day Alabama! Thank you to every­one who came out to sup­port the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail Sys­tem and cycling in our city.

We espe­cially thank Regions for pro­vid­ing us with our spe­cial bike give­away, Alabama Power, the Regional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion of Greater Birm­ing­ham, Dr. Mark Wil­son and the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health, Stan Palla, and all the Le Tour de Ham rid­ers who joined us! We appre­ci­ate your con­tin­ued ded­i­ca­tion to our orga­ni­za­tion. We also want to thank Mayor William Bell for join­ing us and for his sup­port of healthy and active transportation.

Join us on the first Tues­day of every month for Red Rock Tues­day with Jeh Jeh Pruitt as we con­tinue to edu­cate our com­mu­nity about the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail Sys­tem! Here are some pho­tos from today’s segment:

Red Rock Tuesday Kelly Ingram Park _00053_141104 Red Rock Tuesday Kelly Ingram Park _00047_141104 Red Rock Tuesday Kelly Ingram Park _00031_141104 9 Red Rock Tuesday Kelly Ingram Park _00020_141104 8 Red Rock Tuesday Kelly Ingram Park _00002_141104 11 10


October 30th, 2014 by

We’re giv­ing away a Regions bike LIVE dur­ing Red Rock Tues­day on Fox 6 Good Day Alabama with Jeh Jeh Pruitt!

Next Tues­day, Novem­ber 4th, tune in to Good Day Alabama between 6:30 and 8:30am for a chance to win.

It’s easy! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Dur­ing the show, LIKE and SHARE our Face­book photo of the green Regions bike with Jeh Jeh Pruitt to be entered into a draw­ing. We’ll pick the win­ner live on TV!

Like our Face­book page and help us cel­e­brate cycling in Birm­ing­ham next Tuesday!

Spe­cial thanks to Regions, Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust cor­po­rate part­ner, for this excit­ing give­away and for your sup­port of the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail System!



October 28th, 2014 by

Cycling in Birmingham

Le Tour de Ham riders

Le Tour de Ham riders

If you like to ride bikes and are pas­sion­ate about cycling, you won’t want to miss our next Red Rock Tues­day on Fox 6’s Good Day Alabama with Jeh Jeh Pruitt.

Join us Novem­ber 4th for Red Rock Tues­day at Kelly Ingram Park from 6:30–8:30am as we fea­ture cycling in Birm­ing­ham! You can help us con­tinue to edu­cate the com­mu­nity about the Red Rock Ridge and Val­ley Trail System.

This month we will focus on cycling in Birm­ing­ham and the role it plays in the Red Rock sys­tem. We’ll also fea­ture local cycling group, Le Tour de Ham, and their mis­sion to pro­mote the impor­tance of active, safe transportation.

Le Tour de Ham in an eclec­tic, fun social cycling group that cel­e­brates their right to ride. Le tour de ham is the largest weekly ride in Alabama cre­ated by Stan Palla (Ruffner Moun­tain Nature Pre­serve) and Vero Van­blaere (Naked Art). Sil­vertron Cafe spon­sors the ride each week, which begins at 6:15 pm on Tues­days in the heart of For­est Park and ends with food, drinks and fun at Sil­vertron Café.

Other spe­cial Red Rock Tues­day guests will include rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Alabama Power, the Jef­fer­son County Depart­ment of Health, and the Regional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion of Greater Birm­ing­ham. We encour­age rid­ers of all ages to join us as we demon­strate why cycling is impor­tant to the qual­ity of life and the eco­nomic devel­op­ment of our city!

The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust will also have a spe­cial live give­away announce­ment via social media! Like our Face­book for more details and tune in to Good Day Alabama next Tues­day to see how you can enter to win our sur­prise giveaway!

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.

2014-04-22 11.37.29 - Copyuabims

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: