TCNP Currents: The Future of Turkey Creek

Have you visited Turkey Creek Nature Preserve this year or in the last few years?

If you have, you are not alone! Every year approximately 100,000 families, kids, and outdoor enthusiast pass through our gates. With that many people visiting TCNP, you would think that donations would be arriving daily. Unfortunately that is far from the truth. Sadly, we almost never receive donations from the public. We have worked very hard to develop an experience for our guests that is unique in the state of Alabama and are constantly working to add new features that will further enhance that experience. However, in doing so, we have come up short in helping our visitors understand how we operate. The truth is that without more public support, TCNP could be forced to close its gates one day for good!

You may wonder why we do not charge admission. That is a very good question that does not have a simple answer. One of the problems with this suggestion is that we cannot pay someone to collect it. We only have 1 person on staff and spend money on materials only when they are absolutely necessary. Furthermore, TCNP is owned by State Lands (not state parks), meaning that we cannot collect admission. Even if we did charge admission, it would not go towards funding the Preserve specifically, but instead go to the Alabama state general fund. We do receive some support through grant funding, which we work extremely hard to obtain. But those grants do not keep fuel in the lawnmowers, pay for trash bags, or pay our manager.

Many of our visitors assume that we receive government funding. This is only partially true. We do receive about 30% of our annual budget from the City of Pinson, but the remaining 70% of our funding comes from the source that was originally developed to help start up the Preserve (check out the infographic below for more about TCNP funding). This source was never intended to last more than 1 or 2 years, however, we have stretched it out for over 5 years (which is in no small part due to the support from the City of Pinson)! Unfortunately, this source is just about gone and we are left with only one more year of funding. This is a pretty scary situation for everyone that is involved, and we have been working tirelessly to come up with a solution. The reality is, however, that if we do not start receiving more support from the people that use the Preserve, it might not continue to be available to them. This all comes across very dramatic, but it is true and something no one wants to see happen.

To put this into perspective, consider this: TCNP’s annual operational budget is only $60,000, which is 1/10th of the budget of other comparable parks/nature areas (like Ruffner Mountain or Red Mountain). While we would love to have more, so that we can provide more, this is only the bare minimum that we need to operate, and we do not have it.

So really, the only solution is for you to get involved! Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is a public place that benefits the public. Just like any other freely provided service, it is up to you to show how much it is worth to you. Even if you cannot give a lot, you should still consider giving, because if everyone who used the Preserve gave just a little, we would have no problems reaching our funding needs.

To find out how you can help please visit: http://turkeycreeknp.wordpress.com/support-2/

TCNP infographic 02-01

 

 See ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

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Discovering Turkey Creek

Look for new program offerings coming soon at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.  We will be doing guided interpretive hikes every 3rd Sunday to explore the ecology and beauty of Turkey Creek.  This is a chance for folks to tune in a little deeper and learn new things about our public lands.  Our first Discovering Turkey Creek Hike will be “All for Fall” a wildflower hike through the riparian zone at Turkey Creek where we will learn names and some fun facts about fall wildflowers.  

.Turkey Creek Please come out and join us on Sunday, Sept 21 at 3pm.  Meet at the Falls parking area. 5$ donation requested.

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JeffCoH2O: Trash Floats!

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When we talk about litter, we usually refer to solid waste that is improperly discarded along roadways and in communities.  But the impact of litter can go far beyond where it is dropped or thrown.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know that whatever is on the ground can be washed by rain, carried through the storm drainage system, and emptied into the nearest waterway.  Take a walk along Turkey Creek or any of our local creeks right after a heavy rain, and you will find a surprising array of items such as plastic drink bottles, aluminum cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags, fast food wrappers, and sports equipment that have taken that journey.  Besides being unsightly, litter in waterways can be harmful to aquatic animals as well as humans. Objects with sharp edges can cut, plastic bags and containers can trap or entangle, cigarettes and other materials can leach chemicals into the water, and decaying food can attract vermin.  Of even greater concern are the pollutants which are not so easily seen, such as fertilizers, pesticides and motor oil which wash from yards, streets, and parking lots.

Just as trash and pollutants on the ground don’t always stay there, the same principle applies to trash and pollutants in waterways.  During the summer, we sometimes hear about beach closures and the negative health and economic impacts they create.  These news stories rarely mention that some of the trash and pollutants that wind up on beaches come from rivers, creeks and streams that drain to the ocean.

Those of you who live near a beautiful waterway such as Turkey Creek have a special perspective on the effects that trash and other pollutants have on waterways.  Consider using your love for this creek to create a legacy of watershed stewardship.  Whenever you have the opportunity, teach the young people in your life how to prevent stormwater pollution and preserve the integrity of Turkey Creek.

What’s Happening?

Pollution Prevention Week – September 14 – 20 – Litter isn’t the only pollutant threatening our waterways.  Everything exposed to rain is a potential source of pollution!  What pollutants are lurking at your home?

SepticSmart Week – September 21-27 – Find out how to maintain your septic system to keep it working properly and reduce the chance of raw sewage entering your yard, home, or local waterways.

Step Away from the Spray! – September 27 – Come out to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens 11am – 1pm and learn how to manage mosquitos and other backyard bugs using birds, bats and other natural methods.  Free mosquito prevention kits and other helpful items will be available to assist you in controlling these pesky pests in an environmentally friendly way.  For more information, call 205.325.8741.

 

Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741

diclementel@jccal.org

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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Historical Indifference

July’s article, coming half-way through the year (as most things in July tend to do), is a rant of sorts… Hopefully not a rant of tantrum-throwing, foot-stomping proportions, but certainly one expressing a prevailing sense of frustration, hopelessness bordering on despair, and a [metaphorical] desire to grab some people by the nape of the neck and shake the living @#$& out of them…

Why, you may ask, are you so up in arms? This is a valid question, the answer to which is the subject of this month’s discussion.

For the eighteen months or so that I have written this monthly history blog, a common thread has (hopefully) run throughout… that those of us living in the Pinson Valley and its environs are truly fortunate to have the rich and varied history that we do. Our history has not always been pretty, and frequently, not for the faint of heart. But, you don’t get to choose your history any more than you get to choose your parents… So, it is what it is.

Moreover, each of is historically-situated, basically meaning that we are products of the times in which we live. As such, while we can (and should) debate, interpret, and learn from our particular histories. It is my opinion, however, that we should never try to rewrite it. Such whitewashing of documentable facts does a dis-service to the history itself. It is unfair to our forebears who lived (and often suffered) through the times that are being discussed. As such, we should never try to whitewash, obscure, or otherwise, attempt to obliterate particular times or occurrences in that history.

As each article took shape and, even afterwards, the words would stick inside – both in my head and in my heart…

Historians, however, are supposed to be able to take a scholarly step back; being dispassionate in their research and objective in the analysis and discussion of past events and the repercussions of said events. In other words, one should never take the events of history personally.

And therein lays the rub… Now, I get the objectivity part [I really do]. When I do research, I can step back and view the facts with the necessary degree of professional detachment.

What haunts me so is that there are so many people in our communities that, very simply, couldn’t care less about their history. They say such things as: “What’s past is past…”, “You have to keep moving forward to grow”, “Why should I care? I didn’t know those people”. Now, to be fair, some people don’t have the “gene”. They simply don’t get it. There are still others who don’t care. They don’t see the important lessons that history gives us about how to live our lives. They don’t understand why it is important to recognize the contributions of our ancestors and to appreciate their struggles. They don’t understand the continual connection that the past has with the present and the present with the future.

I think this indifference results in the almost universal fact that historical and genealogical societies, museums, cemetery preservation groups, and historical restoration and conservation projects are chronically saddled with little or no financial support. Active physical support is in almost as sad a shape and is typically limited to more [ahem] senior citizens of the community. Politicians often give lip service, but little substantive support (dead folks usually don’t vote or pay taxes). It is important to get as many of us as possible (especially the young) actively involved. We learn much from our history, we learn important lessons when we have deep conversations and experiences about our shared histories, and we almost always emerge as better people as a result.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

-E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the views of the individual author(s) and do not reflect the views or policies of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve or it’s partners. We do not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented on the website, nor does it make any representation concerning the same.

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JeffCo H2O: Single Use Society

Single use-1Emptying a coffee pod into the coffee maker, drinking bottled water, bringing purchases home in plastic bags, and choosing pre-packaged food items are all very convenient.  That’s why it’s so easy to fall into the trap of use it once and throw it away.  But according to Newton’s third law of motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The results of enjoying these conveniences without regard for the waste they generate are landfills packed to capacity, littered roads, and trashed waterways. Every waterway on earth eventually drains to an ocean, and both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans have enormous islands of trash.01garbage-patch2The primary component of these floating dumps is plastic, and most of it comes from land sources.  Dozens of cities have passed ordinances banning the use of plastic bags for retail sales and assessing a deposit for recyclable drink containers.  While these types of laws can reduce the use of specific items or encourage their recycling, they don’t begin to address the  enormity of waste generated as the result of single use items.  There are some obvious small steps we can take to reduce our personal consumption, such as choosing items with less packaging, ramping up our recycling efforts for those convenience items we just can’t do without, and opting for reusable items whenever possible.  But the potential for change doesn’t stop with these few examples.  Consciously identifying and adopting more responsible consumption habits can change our society from single use to sustainable.oneuse-300x225-1

 What’s Happening?

Brown Bag Seminar Series – Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the August Brown Bag Series seminars at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  The seminars are free, no registration is required, and light refreshments are provided.  Call 325.8741 for more details.

August 6 – The Buzz on Pollinators – Sallie Lee

For a bountiful garden, learn how to welcome bee pollinators in colorful and exciting ways in your garden.  Auditorium 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

 August 13 – Porous, Permeable and Pervious – James Horton

When it comes to pathways and driveways, discover beautiful alternatives to concrete and asphalt.  Auditorium 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Jefferson County National Night Out – August 5 – This annual event encourages partnerships between neighborhoods and the Sheriff’s Office to enhance safety and crime prevention.  For a list of locations and times, visit the Sheriff’s Office website or call 325-1450.

 Valley Creek Cleanup – August 23 – Pitch in and help pick up litter and trash from Valley Creek from 8 am – 12 pm.  Free t-shirt and hot dog lunch.  For more information, visit http://www.jcdh.org/wpd

National Dog Day August 26 – ‘Paws’ for just a moment to celebrate our special bond with canines and commit to picking up and properly disposing of your pet’s waste.

August is National Water Quality Month - What are you doing to protect water quality in Jefferson County’s 50 creeks and streams?

 

Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741

diclementel@jccal.org

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JeffCo H20: A Litter Free State of Mind

trashblows_trailer_updated(2)   Keep America Beautiful was created in 1953 to address an increase in littering that coincided with the construction of the interstate system and the growing popularity of disposable containers. Local ordinances, national ad campaigns, and community cleanup efforts soon followed. Over the ensuing decades, the anti-litter movement grew to include other elements such as municipal recycling programs and the push for more sustainable products. But in spite of the tears shed by Iron Eyes Cody, the litter problem in the US has not gone away. Its effects on our communities range from diminished quality of life and safety concerns to neighborhood blight and reduced economic growth.

So . . . what is considered litter, what items are the most littered, where does litter occur, and who litters? The most common definition of litter is solid waste of any type put where it does not belong. (Some people still argue that if something is biodegradable, like gum, it does not count as litter.) Cigarette butts are the most littered items, followed by bottles, cans, fast food packaging and plastic shopping bags. Roadways, transition points such as entrances to buildings, outdoor recreational areas, and shopping centers are the most common locations for littering. People under 30 are the most likely age group to litter. More than 80% of littering is intentional. There’s no doubt that litter is unsightly, but it also has environmental consequences.  Wind, rain, traffic, and animals can carry litter to gutters, ditches and storm drains where it is carried untreated to waterways. According to Keep America Beautiful, 80% of US waterways are littered with trash that was first dropped on land. Even worse, hazardous materials which are illegally dumped can leach into water sources, contaminate soil and pollute the air.

As with any human behavior, there is a psychological aspect to littering. Not feeling a sense of ownership for an area followed by the belief that someone else will pick it up are the most common reasons that people litter. What appears to be socially acceptable is another factor in human behavior. When an area is littered, it has an almost magnetic effect. Since “everyone else is doing it”, litter attracts more litter. But a funny thing happens when an area is extremely clean . . . littering appears to be unacceptable, and the incidence of littering is greatly reduced.

One way to encourage people to take ownership of their community and improve its cleanliness is to get them involved in the process. This past spring, Storm Water Management staff promoted and facilitated roadside cleanups in 23 unincorporated and 14 incorporated Jefferson County areas in conjunction with the statewide People Against a Littered State (PALS) Spring Cleanup. This spring, a total of 1,469 volunteers picked up more than 58 tons of roadside litter. To support the roadway cleanup efforts in unincorporated communities, the Jefferson County Commission approved funding to purchase gloves, bags, water, and safety t-shirts. The Sheriff’s Office provided traffic control for 714 volunteers who picked up 40 tons of litter in unincorporated areas. Roads and Transportation Department crews coordinated and properly disposed of the collected roadway litter.

You can make littering unacceptable in your community. Participate in (or even initiate!) a roadside cleanup in 2015. Call 325.8741 to learn more.

What’s Happening? 

Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the July Brown Bag Series seminars at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The seminars are free, no registration is required, and light refreshments are provided. Call 325.8741 for more details.

Upcoming seminars include:

A Change of Scenery – July 9, Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Auditorium) Discover how to make your landscape fit your current lifestyle, physical needs and desires. Instructors: Daniel and Andrew McCurry

GRANDScapes: Multigenerational Gardening – July 23, Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Auditorium) Kindle the imagination of the (grand) kids in your life by creating fairy gardens, worm habitats, and other play inspiring features. Instructor: Vasha Rosenblum

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Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741

diclementel@jccal.org

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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Greene Cemetery

In this month’s article, we will dig deeper (no pun intended) into a local cemetery with a list of residents that reads like a Who’s Who of the early pioneers of Jefferson County. The Green[e]‘s Station cemetery (also called ” Green[e] family cemetery, Green[e]-Massey cemetery, or the Smith’s Chapel cemetery) is located on Kent Road near to the main campus of Jefferson State Community College on AL highway 79 between Tarrant and Pinson. The cemetery is adjacent to the site of, but was not affiliated with the Smith’s Chapel Methodist Church on the old Huntsville Road. The cemetery is of singular historical import to those of us living today in Pinson Valley. The area began to be settled between 1817-1818 and many of the area’s early pioneers (and a minimum of seven slaves) are buried in the cemetery.

Settlers began coming into the area by wagon train, ox-cart, Indian-drags, on foot or horseback and staked out homesteads for themselves and their families. The plantations and farms of early pioneers stretched from one end of Pinson Valley to the other, bordered by Tarrant on one end and Pinson on the other. The area also stretched from Trussville and Roebuck to New Castle and Springdale.

The city of Tarrant as we know it today was not incorporated until 1918. Named for Rev. Benjamin Tarrant, the town grew up around the National Cast Iron Pipe Company and related companies. However, the settlement was much older. Travelers on the Huntsville Road in about 1817 often stopped at an area known as the Big Spring to rest and recharge on their way further into Alabama. While many moved on, others stayed and built a community, originally called Green[e]‘s, or Green[e]‘s Station. Brothers George Livingston Green[e]and Robert Hardy Green[e] both built large plantations in the area. The Tarrant area was also sometimes known as Nabor’s Spring.

The cemetery is the final resting place of Zachariah Hagood, one of the earliest physicians in Jefferson County, who practiced from 1840 to 1856. Dr. Zachariah, as he was known, almost single-handedly populated the settlement in northeastern part of Jefferson County that would eventually bear his name. He came here with his wife and baby… However, the valley was soon teeming with life from the many sons and daughters, Zachariah had 21 children from three wives. Robert, son of Dr. Zachariah, built a store on a crossroads next to the Huntsville Road which, beginning in 1836, also functioned as the community’s first post office. The area quickly became known as Hagood’s Crossroads. However, horse traders settling in the area from Pinson, Tennessee came in around 1852, eventually outvoted the Hagood’s and renamed the town Mount Pinson which, in turn, was later shortened to Pinson..A more poignant burial is that of Thomas Haughey, a physician who owned land in the area. Serving as a Republican US Congressman in the years following the Civil War, Haughey was assassinated in Courtland, AL while making a speech in 1869.

The cemetery started as a family burial place for the Green[e] family, who had significant land holdings in the area. The oldest known burial is reflected on a stone carved in 1829. Two of the oldest known burials are that of Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt (a veteran of the American Revolution), who died in 1846 and George Nash who died in 1852, the father of Zachariah Hagood’s first wife, Nancy Nash. Also buried there are John and Margaret Erwin, parents of Zachariah’s second and third wives, Nancy and Mary Ann Erwin. Families represented in cemetery include Greene, Hagood, Erwin, Massey, Reed, Reid, Marshall, Nash, and Hewitt.

Registered as an Alabama Historic Cemetery on January 20, 2004, the cemetery is likely older than Alabama statehood. However, the years have not been kind to this venerable old resting place… In its current state, it is horribly overgrown, with numerous sunken graves and vandalized gravestones.

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This hallowed place of rest for our ancestors deserves better than it has received. It falls to the generations living today to give the cemetery its due, if for no other reason than a show of respect for this burial ground, and especially in gratitude for the stalwart pioneers who risked everything to settle what is now known as Pinson Valley.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

-E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

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