The Nature Conservancy Receives Grant From Local Foundation

Enhancements Planned to Allow More Public Opportunities at two Conservancy Preserves

Birmingham, AL | August 26, 2011

The Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has received a grant of $10,000 from the Shearwater Foundation of Huntsville for improvements to their Roy B. Whitaker Preserve on Highway 72 in Jackson County and their Keel Mountain Preserve near Esslinger Hollow on the southwest slopes of Keel Mountain in Madison County.

Adjacent to Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge, the 300-acre Roy B. Whitaker Preserve boasts beautiful views, including a 360-degree, panoramic view of mountains, creeks and lush fields. Purchased by the Conservancy in 2002, the property was in the Whitaker family for nearly 100 years, with agriculture and cattle production being the primary uses. Located just off Highway 72, the Whitaker Preserve is approximately 20 miles east of Huntsville. The Nature Conservancy has been working with local landowners and residents to address environmental concerns in the Paint Rock River watershed since 2001. The Whitaker Preserve has been instrumental in the Conservancy’s efforts to restore Paint Rock River land and habitat. This preserve serves as a demonstration site for bottomland hardwood forest restoration.

The 310-acre Keel Mountain Preserve boasts ruggedly beautiful limestone bluffs interspersed with gently flowing creek beds, sinkholes and glade-like openings. The preserve also contains Lost Falls, a dramatic sinkhole waterfall that is currently being inventoried to document cave fauna. The preserve is frequently visited by citizens of North Alabama for hiking, bird watching and viewing wildflowers. The Preserve is home to the federally endangered Morefield's leather flower, a unique and little known plant found in only six populations (all located within the Huntsville Mountains). Because of this, Keel Mountain Preserve was selected in 2002 for purchase and long-term conservation by the Alabama Chapter.

The Nature Conservancy hopes to make visits to both preserves by the public more enjoyable following completion of the improvements funded by this grant.

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

Contact information

Linda Montgomery
Director of Philanthropy
2100 1st Avenue North, Suite 500
Birmingham, AL 35203
205 251-1155, ext 125
205 251-4444

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