Seven Springs

Two small and very dif­fer­ent non­profit orga­ni­za­tions entered into an excit­ing agree­ment to accom­plish mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial goals: pro­tect the habi­tat of a fed­er­ally endan­gered ani­mal while pro­vid­ing a nature sanc­tu­ary, medi­a­tion gar­den and com­mu­nity edu­ca­tional resource.

In west­ern Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, Faith Apos­tolic Church shares land with Seven Springs, a small trib­u­tary of Val­ley Creek and a known habi­tat for the endan­gered Water­cress Darter (Etheostoma nuchale). The pop­u­la­tion in Seven Springs, dis­cov­ered in 2002 by Dr. Mike How­ell and Dr. Larry Dav­en­port of Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity, is only the third pop­u­la­tion known.

Inter­ested in pro­tect­ing the water qual­ity (and thus the Darter’s habi­tat) of Seven Springs, the Land Trust asked the Church how it could be of assis­tance. The Church and the Land Trust agreed to jointly pro­tect Seven Springs while cre­at­ing a resource for the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity around it.

On Sep­tem­ber 23, 2005, The Church and the Land Trust signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing to ensure the per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion of the Water­cress Darter and the aquatic habi­tat of Seven Springs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice applauded the efforts to pre­serve Seven Springs because public-private part­ner­ships are essen­tial in pro­tect­ing endan­gered species.

In order to accom­plish the goals of the Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing, the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust and Faith Apos­tolic Church have part­nered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, Sam­ford University’s Depart­ment of Biol­ogy, and the South­ern Envi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter to design and plant an attrac­tive nature sanc­tu­ary and med­i­ta­tion gar­den that includes native plant species around Seven Springs which will serve to improve and pro­tect the Darter habi­tat. In con­junc­tion, an envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tional pro­gram high­light­ing the Water­cress Darter and its sig­nif­i­cance in the local ecosys­tem will be devel­oped for com­mu­nity residents.

Most Recent

On Jan­u­ary 11, 2008, Faith Apos­tolic Church, the Land Trust, the South­ern Envi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter, Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice cel­e­brated the ground­break­ing of the med­i­ta­tion gar­dens. These beau­ti­ful gar­dens will be a source of com­mu­nity pride and serve to pro­tect the water­cress darter’s habi­tat by fil­ter­ing pol­lu­tants from water runoff.

Assis­tance from the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust and fund­ing from a Five Star Grant have enabled the part­ners to build, expand, and main­tain the gar­dens. Today, we con­tinue the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion around Seven Springs, and expand the edu­ca­tion opportunities.