Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Locust Fork, is one of the most biologically diverse habitats in North Central Alabama. The waters of the creek are home to three endangered species of fish, the Rush Darter, Vermilion Darter and Watercress Darter. In addition to its ecological importance, the preserve contains numerous important cultural and historic sites, including the home and mill of David Hamby, a pioneer in the mining of coal in Alabama in the decades prior to the Civil War.
It is this combination of the natural and the human that makes Turkey Creek special, according to Steele. “It’s a neat energy that you have here, a powerful synergy between the protection of the cultural and the natural heritage,” he says. “You can't appreciate one with out the other.”
Steele praises the people of Pinson, who he says have taken a great interest in preserving Turkey Creek. “There's the cultural heritage here, which the citizens of Pinson are passionate about, and they are very passionate about their environment,” he says. “They understand how precious it is. They enjoy their environment and want to protect it.”
Generations of Pinson residents have used the area for recreation, including swimming and picnicking, and that tradition continues, according to Steele. “They come out and bring their kids to swim, just like their parents and grandparents."
The SEC will use the preserve as an outdoor classroom and present educational programs at the center. Steele, for example, facilitates visits by groups from elementary and high schools. For more information, contact Steele at the preserve at (205) 680-4116.
The Turkey Creek Preserve is owned by Forever Wild, the state of Alabama’s public lands program. The Freshwater Land Trust, according to their web site, was instrumental in raising the funds necessary to secure the preserve and make it a part of Forever Wild. The Land Trust helped to secure approximately $1.5 million from the Jefferson County Greenways Program and about $750,000 in private landowner contributions.