The Nature Conservancy Acquires 758 Acres on Little Cahaba River
Agreement with Hancock Timber Resource Group provides habitat protection for federally endangered and threatened species, and protects water quality in Cahaba River watershed.
Birmingham, AL | December 19, 2012
The Nature Conservancy in Alabama has more than tripled the extent of its Kathy Stiles Freeland Bibb County Glades Preserve by acquiring 758 acres of land in Bibb County from the Hancock Timber Resource Group. This property includes extensive frontage along the Little Cahaba River and Six Mile Creek, one of the larger tributaries of the Little Cahaba. At least 15 federally endangered and threatened species are known to live on or in the immediate vicinity of this tract.
A large number of priority habitats and associated species of greatest conservation need, as identified in the Alabama Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS), are also found here and will benefit from this action.
“We have been working closely with The Nature Conservancy on conservation efforts regarding this property for more than a decade. After harvesting loblolly pine stands on portions of the property, we worked with the Conservancy to re-establish the mountain longleaf pine ecosystem, which has become more of a rare ecosystem over time. We are very pleased now to reach agreement with the Conservancy to permanently protect this land along the Little Cahaba River and Six Mile Creek,” said Alan Bruce, Central Region Manager for the Hancock Timber Resource Group. “We have a long history of working with Nature Conservancy chapters across the nation and greatly respect their work and share their commitment to conservation.”
Through its Sensitive Lands Program, the Hancock Timber Resource Group has helped preserve and protect more than 420,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands in the United States, Canada and Australia, Mr. Bruce added.
“It is a privilege to work with a company like Hancock Timber Resource Group. They have shown real leadership in their stewardship of this unique and significant property over the years, and we are pleased to now partner with them to ensure its permanent protection,” stated Chris Oberholster, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama.
For the past 20 years this area in Bibb County has been the focus of conservation efforts by The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These efforts have led to the protection of approximately 4,000 acres in the adjacent Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.
The Conservancy acquired this most recent tract with the assistance of almost $750,000 from a Recovery Land Acquisition Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
This type of grant is awarded in support of approved species recovery plans to protect against development or other land use changes that might impair or destroy key habitats. This grant must be matched by the Conservancy for this important acquisition, so fundraising efforts are ongoing to secure the additional one million dollar payment.
The Cahaba River watershed suffers from many stresses associated with residential and commercial development in the greater Birmingham area, including increased storm water runoff, sedimentation, water withdrawal, and municipal wastewater discharges. To prevent further decline and to promote restoration of this rich biological resource, the Conservancy is working with state and federal partners and private landowners to protect the unique heritage of the Cahaba River. The Little Cahaba River is a critical source of high quality water to the Cahaba River. Protection of the Little Cahaba River will aid in mitigating low flow conditions for the Cahaba River.
As the state’s longest and most biologically rich free-flowing river, the Cahaba is an extraordinary hotspot for biodiversity and is located in the heart of the Mobile River Basin. Almost 50 percent of all documented U.S. species extinctions have occurred in the Mobile River Basin in the past century. Most rivers in the southeastern United States have been impounded, polluted, dredged, or otherwise altered, resulting in the disappearance of many riverine habitats and species.
The establishment of the adjoining Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, championed by U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus and U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, has provided a base for Bibb County to promote and manage tourism and compatible outdoor recreation associated with the spectacular resources of the Cahaba River. The Cahaba River in Bibb County is a popular tourist spot for residents of the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas. The Refuge is benefiting the local economy through increased tourism earnings, while managing increased visits in a manner that is compatible with conservation.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.