The Preserve contains some of the most biologically diverse habitats in this region of Alabama. The waters of Turkey Creek are home to five endangered species of fish: the Vermilion Darter (Etheostoma chermocki), the Watercress Darter (Etheostoma nuchale), the Rush Darter (Etheostoma phytophilum), the Coal Darter (Percina brevicauda), and the Cahaba Shiner (Notropis cahabae). The Vermilion Darter occurs only in Turkey Creek and nowhere else in the world!
Additionally, two species of protected bats, one threatened turtle, and one impaired species of flower are all know to occur within the watershed. Considering its size, Turkey Creek may be some of the most critical habitat for impaired species in the southeast, if not the country!
Since we are a Nature Preserve (not a park!), our top goal is the preservation and restoration of native habitat for all of the amazing creatures that inhabit the Preserve. We work closely with other non profit organizations, state, and federal officials throughout the watershed and greater area to develop restoration efforts and maintain habitat throughout the watershed.
Recent Projects To Improve/Restore Habitat:
Non-native invasive vegetation eradication and re-vegetation of 10-acres within the Preserve. For this project we successfully removed an old growth stand of well established (and very invasive) Chinese Privet, along with wisteria, English ivy, and kudzu. While this will take many years of continued management, the groundwork has been laid to create new habitat that will not only benefit all of the amazing critters that use Turkey Creek, but also all of the bipeds (you and me) that make use of the water in it! This was accomplished through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife’s 5-Star Restoration Program.
In 2018, during our annual BioBlitz, Bernard Kuhajda, an ichthyologist from the Chattanooga Aquarium, discovered a Rush Darter in a tributary of Turkey Creek inside the Preserve. This was very exciting news, because it was the furthest downstream they had ever been discovered, and because it was a whole new, previously unknown population. Unfortunately, an old perched culvert under Turkey Creek road was blocking their upstream migration for spring spawning. So in the fall of 2019, we partnered with the USFWS and Freshwater Land Trust to install a new box culvert. The installation of this new culvert will provide these incredibly rare species access to far more habitat for spawning and ease their annual journey upstream.
Every year, over 100,000 come out to enjoy the amazing beauty of Turkey Creek. We love sharing the Preserve with visitors, but we do ask that you always keep in mind while you are here, that you are guests visiting the homes of some very special creatures. Ultimately, as guests, it is your responsibility to ensure their homes are well taken care of. Please be mindful of your impact, and do your best to minimize it!