Let’s Talk Trash

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is a natural wonder… but one thing that is not natural—or wonderful—is trash. And it’s becoming a regular sight among our banks, in and out of the water.

What is Littering?

The formal definition of littering is the illegal disposal of waste materials in public or private spaces. Litter is trash that has been thrown away and left to be picked up by others. Littering is a form of pollution and can have substantial negative consequences for the natural environment. It can result in the contamination of land, waterways, groundwater, and other shared natural resources.

 Littering is illegal in every state, including Alabama. Here in Alabama, anyone who is found knowingly depositing litter on any property or water without permission to do so is breaking the law and will face a minimum of $250 fine for first offense, and a $500 fine for each offense afterwards.

Why shouldn’t you do it?

Think your trash doesn’t harm anyone? Think again.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is home to more than just the beautiful falls. The preserve is home to seven protected species including three endangered species of fish: The Rush Darter, the Watercress Darter, and the Vermilion Darter. In addition to being endangered, the Vermilion Darter is also endemic to Turkey Creek, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world. Turkey Creek is also home to a threatened species of flower, the Eared Coneflower, a critically endangered species of bat: Grey Bat, and an endangered species of turtle: The Flattened Musk Turtle. Turkey Creek may be your favorite place to swim, but to the wildlife and plants here, it’s home! Trash can contaminate water and land and kill or injury wildlife and plants.

Like to swim in clean water?

In addition to the wonderful biodiversity here, our water is clean and clear and safe to swim in because it is naturally sourced from groundwater. Litter can contaminate groundwater, decreasing the water quality of your favorite swimming hole.

What you can do to help:

  1. Just throw it away: Don’t throw trash on the ground or in the water! Ever! Toss it in your nearest trash can or hold on to it until you can find one.
  2. Clean it up: See trash? Pick it up! You wouldn’t leave trash lying around in your yard or swimming pool at home, would you?
  3. Be a Steward of the Land: Treat the preserve the way you would your own land. As visitors, we all have a responsibility to respect the preserve and leave it as clean or cleaner than we found it.

Abbi Hallman

I am a 21 year old college student from Jasper, Alabama. Currently, I am a senior studying Urban Environmental Studies and psychology at Birmingham-Southern College. After college, I plan on attending law school and becoming an environmental attorney.



Sources Consulted:

Bullard, E. 2019. Littering. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

TCNP Management. 2013. “Conservation.” Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

Alabama Forever Wild. 2018. “Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.” Alabama Forever Wild.