Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

Scenic. His­toric. These words describe the 466-acre Turkey Creek Nature Pre­serve. How­ever, if not for the Land Trust and a num­ber of other part­ners, the Nature Pre­serve may not exist as it does today.

The Pre­serve is an out­stand­ing exam­ple of a pri­vate ini­tia­tive to pro­tect endan­gered species. At Turkey Creek, the Land Trust worked for two years to com­bine approx­i­mately $1.5 mil­lion from the Jef­fer­son County Green­ways Pro­gram with $750,000 in pri­vate landowner con­tri­bu­tions to secure sup­port from the Alabama For­ever Wild Pro­gram, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice, Jef­fer­son County and oth­ers to help estab­lish the 700-acre Turkey Creek Nature Pre­serve and Greenways.

Turkey Creek, a trib­u­tary of Locust Fork, is located a mere 20 min­utes north of Birm­ing­ham near the com­mu­nity of Pin­son. Turkey Creek is home to three endan­gered species of fish: the Ver­mil­ion Darter (Etheostoma cher­mocki), the Water­cress Darter (Etheostoma nuchale), and the Rush Darter (Etheostoma phy­tophilum). The Rush and Ver­mil­ion Darters occur only in Turkey Creek and nowhere else in the world.

Today, Land Trust efforts have lever­aged almost $10 mil­lion worth of con­ser­va­tion projects in the water­shed. The Turkey Creek Nature Pre­serve is owned by Alabama’s For­ever Wild Pro­gram and co-managed by For­ever Wild, the Land Trust, and a local com­mu­nity group named START (Soci­ety to Advance the Resources at Turkey Creek). The tract is man­aged as a nature pre­serve and thus hosts a num­ber of pas­sive recre­ational oppor­tu­ni­ties includ­ing hik­ing and nature photography.

The Turkey Creek Nature Pre­serve is home to an excel­lent envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tion pro­gram. The Land Trust found the per­fect edu­ca­tional part­ners in the South­ern Envi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter and Birmingham-Southern Col­lege. The Center’s expe­ri­ence in envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tion, com­bined with the College’s new Envi­ron­men­tal Urban Stud­ies Pro­gram, result in an edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence like no other for area chil­dren and col­lege stu­dents. Charles Yea­ger, direc­tor of the pro­gram, con­ducts classes through­out the Pre­serve and at the on-site envi­ron­men­tal cen­ter. The Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust was able to pur­chase the envi­ron­men­tal cen­ter in 2008 with funds recov­ered from the sale of the Pre­serve to For­ever Wild.

In addi­tion to sig­nif­i­cant bio­log­i­cal diver­sity, The Turkey Creek water­shed has great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Since the 1870s, his­tor­i­cal accounts record exten­sive use of the Turkey Creek Falls, located within today’s Nature Pre­serve site, for pic­nick­ing and out­door recreation.

Sev­eral pre­his­toric Native Amer­i­can sites have been doc­u­mented. In addi­tion, the home and mill of David Hanby, one of Alabama’s most aggres­sive early indus­tri­al­ist entre­pre­neurs and a pio­neer in the devel­op­ment of Alabama’s coal indus­try, has been doc­u­mented within the Pre­serve. The site is also home to the ruins of the Mount Pin­son Iron­works, a small forge and foundry built in 1863 that sup­plied horse­shoes for Con­fed­er­ate troops dur­ing the Civil War.

Read more about how the Fresh­wa­ter Land Trust acquired Turkey Creek