JeffCoH20:Baked, broiled, grilled or fried

More than 3,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines serve 480,000 people in Jefferson County.  This vital function makes it possible for customers to rise in the morning, get ready for work or school, and not have to think about what happens to their waste water after showering, brushing teeth, or flushing!  One challenge to the operation of the sanitary sewer system is the buildup of fats, oils, and grease – FOG – in the sewer lines.  Over time, these substances can create clogs and result in backups that cause sewage to overflow into homes, yards, streets, and waterways.  Not only are these events costly to repair, they also can be a health hazard.  One main source of FOG in the sewer system is households. 

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No matter what you cook or how you cook it, there usually is some fat, oil or grease involved in the process.  When the holiday meals are over and it’s time to wash the stack of plates, pots, pans, and casserole dishes piled in the sink, take a few minutes to make sure that FOG doesn’t wash down the kitchen drain.  Even if you have a garbage disposal or use hot water and detergent, it will not prevent FOG buildup in your plumbing or the sewer system.  If you are connected to a septic system, a similar scenario applies – FOG can build up and cause your septic system to malfunction.  

The good news is that the solution is easy!  Discard in the trash unwanted food scraps from plates and cookware.  Any remaining FOG can be cooled and poured or scraped into a plastic or metal container with a lid and taken to the nearest Jefferson County cooking oil recycling station.  New recycling containers are available to you for free at all recycling stations.  Preventing FOG from going down the drain can go a long way toward reducing plumbing emergencies and unhealthy sewer overflows.

Proper FOG disposal

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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Get Some ‘Re-Leaf’ this Fall

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By now, it’s probably becoming impossible to ignore all those leaves falling in your yard.  If you tried mulching leaves last year, you probably found that you saved yourself some serious time and money by using your mower to mulch leaves into your lawn (free nutrients) and by re-purposing excess leaves (free mulch) to provide cover for your landscaped areas.

If you’ve never tried these techniques, maybe this is the time to move on from hours of blowing and bagging, the cost of buying mulch and fertilizer, and the effort involved in loading and bringing all these materials home – to that solution that just fell into your yard! It’s best to mulch leaves into your lawn every week or so to make the volume of leaves more manageable for you and utilized more efficiently by your lawn.

Try using your lawnmower with the bag attachment on to shred and collect leaves prior to spreading on landscaped areas.  Shredding before spreading reduces matting and creates a more uniform appearance.  If you simply can’t let go of the more manicured look that commercially produced mulch gives your landscape, try spreading a thin layer of purchased mulch over a layer of shredded leaves.

What’s Happening?

Fall Plant Sale October 19-20 – Here’s your chance to stock up on native plants at Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Fall Plant Sale.  http://www.bbgardens.org/fall-plant-sale.php

 Birmingham E-cycle Day October 23 – Don’t doom your old gadgets to a landfill! Bring them to Short 20th Street North for recycling.   http://www.aeconline.org/blog

Prescription Drug Disposal October 26Here’s a safe way to clean out your medicine cabinet.  Bring unwanted medications to one of these locations.  http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

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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

TCNP Currents: Bama Brookies

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Rare and Beautiful Jewels in the Heart of Dixie

Story By: J.T. Armstrong

Photos By: C.B. Crumpler

I continue rolling, eventually surpassing the shadows cast by the Birmingham skyline.   A short stretch on the interstate then take a left and go through the industrial district then through one of the poorer areas within the metro perimeter.  Turn left at the Jet-Pep with the bathrooms connected to the car wash and another few hundred feet and I’m by the creek.  I piece together the 5-weight and string my line through the guides, tie on some 5x.  Some bugs are coming off so I peruse through my box until I find it.  Something small, dark and can float.  Not too small, size 14, maybe 12.  I can never tell.

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I’m not a very good caster, or fisherman, but the majority of my casts fall within the banks, which (in theory) greatly increase my odds.  So I fling the fly around, and it sometimes lands in the water.  It takes a few drifts until something darts from the shadows and smashes the dry, taking it deep beneath the surface in one vicious exhibition of murderous intent.  The line tightens and sings and the rod bends and a few seconds later I lift the quarter-pound exterminator out of the water.  Blood red eyes and a fluorescent turquoise gill plate, some of the loudest colors I’ve seen on a fish.  And not a trout fish.  A bass fish. A redeye bass.

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The first time I heard the expression “Bama Brookie”, I was immediately disgusted.  Here in the heart of Dixie, when we slap our regional brand on an existing item it usually involves either making it accessible to the illiterate or deep frying it.  Maybe both.  My observations have shown there is a large overlap between people who are non-readers and people who like fried stuff.

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“Bama Brookie”seemed to equivocate a small bass with something that really is special, like the native brook trout that abound in Southern Appalachia.   The term brought to mind images of rednecks yanking half pounders out of a pond and considering their experience paramount to those who stalk fish high in the mountains of Tennessee.

I kept this notion until the first time I waded into this creek, the 65 degree current pushing past my knees.  I could still see my toes.  I ducked beneath overhanging limbs and branches of oak and pine and honeysuckle.  I think I tied on some yellow popper or something similar, something that I often use to catch dumb fish.  I began to cast and I watched multiple refusals so I began the countless iterations of explorations into the box and downsizing of tippets.  4x then 5x then smaller poppers and crawfish patterns and then a dry and then a dropper.  In some final attempt brought on by desperation I tossed a small foam hopper and dropped a stone fly on some tiny strand of tippet.  I made a tolerable cast upstream and mended up and then down, a driftless drag, and suddenly I saw the piece of foam jerk underwater and begin fleeing upstream.  When I finally pulled him out of the water I found a 4 inch fish hung on my size 8 stonefly.  I found some tiny, peacock colored bass who thought he was a trout in some river which thought it belonged in some other state, in some higher elevation.  I found something that felt very different than what I expected.

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Until recently, only one species has been recognized as the Redeye bass, but biological studies have shown that there are actually species-level variations that result in multiple different species comprising the “Redeye Bass” family.  The colors of each species vary from bright blue lateral lines to deep greens, from rich crimson eyes to stark and startling reds.  My first encounter was nearly frightening, staring into the hemorrhaging eyes of some small predator that seemed hell bent on escaping my grasp.  The colors and beauty only extend so far.  Underneath it is a slight reflection of the natives of this state: they can be fooled, repeatedly even, but they are never any less angry about it.

I spent some brief time with a local biologist who tried (God bless his soul) to explain the diet of these fish.  This resulted mostly in confusion and nausea on my part, but I managed to extract “hellgrammite” and “some other surface bugs” from the conversation.  Basically, these are small, beautifully colored fish that subsist primarily on insects with a propensity for looking up and thriving in cool flowing rivers.  Which kinda sounds similar to another highly sought after fish that thrives in cool mountain streams.  But these are, you know, in Alabama…

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For years I have been jealous of another city located about 200 miles east of where I live and work.  There is a large, cold flowing river that runs through it and rainbow and brown trout and shoal bass and striper thrive and are caught regularly.  The citizens post pictures of rose-cheeked fish and fish with dark spots surrounded by rings of bright red.  And I was always jealous of those anglers and what great opportunity they had.  To stop by after a day at the office to see what beautiful creatures they could conjure out of the water by using small flies and small tippets and complicated drifts.  But there are days when I sneak out of the office and drive down the interstate, past the Jet-Pep with the bathrooms connected to the car wash, and I stand in the cool waters and toss small patterns to skittish fish who view 4x like it’s rope.  And sometimes I catch them and look at their bright blue sides and angry red eyes and I’m not really jealous of anyone.

Story By: J.T. Armstrong

Photos By: C.B. Crumpler

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Editor’s Note: This piece was provided courtesy of Revive Fly Fishing Magazine. Please visit http://reviveflyfishing.com for more beautiful photo-essays and stories like this one.

Before your next visit to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, please be sure you are aware of our Fishing Regulations.

Thank you so much Revive for sharing your piece on Turkey Creek, we hope to see you at the creek again soon!

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TCNP Currents: Trek Birmingham

For well over a hundred years, the Birmingham area has been known for the vast wealth of natural resources that can be found in its surrounding mountains, valleys, and waterways. These resources contributed greatly to the area developing into one of the most productive industrial centers in the southeastern United States. Slowly catching attention is Birmingham’s other natural resource, greenspace. In fact, Birmingham leads the nation in per capita public greenspace, with 17.9 acres per 1,000 residents.  With so much greenspace, there are now more options than ever for residents (and visitors) to get active outside.

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To help visitors on their way, Birmingham-Southern College’s Urban Environmental Studies program has developed Trek Birmingham, an online guide for many of the area’s most popular outdoor destinations.

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The site features informative articles on each location’s attractions, activities, history, and natural features. The site’s developers have gone above and beyond to provide an in-depth look at what is unique or interesting at each site. For example, on the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve page, scroll to the bottom and be sure to check out the articles labeled: “ECOREGION”, “GEOLOGY”, “WATERSHED”, and “BIODIVERSITY”.

Here is a short excerpt from the Trek Birmingham article on Turkey Creek’s Biodiversity, by Dr. Scott Duncan, author of Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity:

The rich biodiversity of central Alabama is the result of many complex and inter-related factors. As each kind of habitat supports a characteristic flora and fauna, a mosaic of different habitats as found in parts of Turkey Creek could contribute to more unique discoveries. In the case of Turkey Creek, biodiversity is expressed in the 3 unique darter fish. The conditions that allow these rare beauties refuge may also open other niches for other animals as well as plants.  Unique water quality and geology could also allow others to be found. TCNP and the State Lands Division carefully survey the property for unique plant of animal species and protect the area from disturbance.

For the rest of this article, and more about Birmingham’s amazing natural resources, please visit http://trekbirmingham.com. With so many options, Birmingham is sure to surprise even you. So get out and see it for yourself.

Until then, we’ll see ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

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JeffCo H2O: Wholly Cr@p! Seriously?

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  Not many friendships could stand the test of time like the relationship between people and their pets. Archaeologists have found evidence that humans began domesticating dogs 16,000 years ago to help with hunting, herding, and protection.
Throughout the ages, people also have kept dogs as companions. No wonder we refer to dogs as ’man’s best friend’. According to the Humane Society, Americans own 78 million dogs. And not to leave out feline fanciers, cats were domesticated 8,000 years ago when people noticed their usefulness in keeping rats and other vermin away from harvested grain.  Today in the United States, more than 86 million cats allow humans to own them.
We love our pets and want to keep them healthy and safe. One important step is picking up and properly disposing of pet waste. An average sized dog produces about 1/2 pound of waste per day. Multiply that by the 150,000 dogs owned by Jefferson County residents, and we are talking about nearly 38 tons of dog waste! If you’ve ever stepped into one of those lovely piles, you know how annoying that can be.
But pet waste is more than just a nuisance – it is a health hazard. The average pile of dog waste contains 2.5 billion fecal coliform bacteria as well as viruses and parasites. These pathogens can live in both soil and water, and people and pets are at risk of illness if they are exposed to them. That’s why pet waste should never be added to compost or used as fertilizer – and should always be kept out of storm drains!  As with anything else left on the ground, stormwater can wash pet waste into the nearest waterway.
So what is the most environmentally friendly solution to disposing of your pet’s waste? It’s as easy as:     1- Always pick it up. 2 – Bag it. 3 – Trash it.

What’s Happening?

Turning Trash into Treasure with Backyard Composting – July 17.
Learn how to turn your yard and kitchen waste into free soil. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Cost is $10. Contact the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at 205.879.6964 x10 by July 15 to register.

Big Ideas for Small Spaces – July 24.
Container gardening and composting with worms (yes, worms) are ideal for cramped locations. Instructor: Vasha Rosenblum. Free Lunch and Learn Seminar Series, 11:30 – 12:30, Birmingham Botanical Gardens Auditorium. Light refreshments served.

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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

Back to the Basics

Years ago, I had a boss who used to remind the staff that the word ‘assume’ tells the story of what happens when you think people understand what you’re trying to communicate, but you don’t take the time to make sure. I won’t go into details, but you probably get the idea. While many of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve’s blog readers have a good understanding of stormwater, polluted runoff, and pollution prevention, it’s sometimes a good thing to go back to the basics – and not assume!

Here in Jefferson County, we have more than 4,200 miles of waterways. Even though that seems like a lot, water doesn’t remain in one place – it constantly goes through cycles of precipitation, infiltration, evaporation, and condensation. And as it goes through these cycles, it winds up in oceans, rivers, creeks, streams, polar icecaps, underground aquifers, clouds, and living things (about 60% of an average adult is water). No matter where it is located, the total amount of water on earth – about 326 million trillion gallons – never changes. But only about 1% of that total is easily accessible fresh water. In the meantime, the world’s population of 7.087 billion continues to grow and place greater demands on water resources. That’s why it is in our best interest to conserve and protect the water that we do have.

Here’s where stormwater comes in. Stormwater is another name for rain and other types of precipitation. Stormwater is valuable and essential because it recharges ground water and feeds surface waterways. But as our population and developed areas have increased, so has the potential for stormwater to become polluted.

Most pollution found in surface waterways comes from people going about their everyday activities. Activities like that bag of weed and feed you spread on your lawn right before it rained. That little oil drip from your car that you keep meaning to get fixed. The ‘presents’ Fido leaves in your yard that you never seem to get around to removing. These are just a few examples, but all of these little potential pollutants can really add up when you consider that there are about 660,000 people living in Jefferson County.

Stormwater picks up these common substances from the ground, paved areas, and other surfaces, and carries them into the storm drainage system. The storm drainage system is a series of inlets, pipes, gutters and ditches which carry water – and anything mixed with or carried by it – away from streets and other paved areas. This system empties untreated stormwater into the nearest creek or stream. Stormwater that carries pollution is called polluted runoff.
The good news is that we could reduce the amount of polluted runoff in Jefferson County if each of us would make a few changes to prevent its causes.

JeffCo H2O will not assume! We will keep bringing you helpful information, ideas, resources and opportunities with the goal that we each will commit to doing our part to improve water quality here in Jefferson County.

Mark Your Calendar!

June

National Rivers Month
Celebrate our water resources by cleaning up a waterway near you!

June 5

World Environment Day
This year’s theme is Think Eat Save to encourage people to reduce food waste and food loss. It is estimated that 30% of food purchased in the US is thrown away. Consequently, half of the water used to produce food that is discarded also goes to waste.

June 8

World Oceans DayThe emphasis for 2013 is Together We Have the Power to Protect the Ocean. Even though we live a few hours away from the coast, all of our waterways eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Something to think about when you are fishing or swimming in the Gulf!

June 26

Mild to Wild in < 24 Hours!
Lunch & Learn Seminar, 11:30 – 12:30, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Find out how to travel with sustainability in mind to some of Alabama’s most beautiful destinations. Jay Grantland, Alabama Eco Adventures. Free. Refreshments will be served.

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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

TCNP Currents: Summer Time Tips

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Now that summer has finally arrived, those seeking refuge from the heat are flocking to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. And why not? Turkey Creek offers some of the cleanest, coolest waters in town, not to mention breath-taking beauty.  Everyone seems to have their favorite shady spot for picnicking or reflecting as they watch the water flow by.

Since the crowds are growing thicker, it seems like a good time to discuss a few tips for how you and your family can make the most of your visit.

TCNP TIP #1: Always follow the rules!

No one wants to have their time or worse yet, their family’s time cut short because they could not follow the rules. This happens more often than it should, so please, make a point to review all Preserve’s regulations prior to your visit, which can be found HERE or on any of the Preserve’s kiosks. Please note that anyone found not adhering to these rules, will be asked to leave immediately. There is no excuse for not knowing.

TCNP TIP #2: Know the Hours of Operation and plan accordingly

It is easily the most common question by visitors to TCNP: “What are the operational hours?”. Well, this is a very easy one: Wednesday through Sunday we close at 5:30pm.  We are closed all day on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Friday and Saturday morning we have special “Pedestrian Only” hours from 7am-9am. At 9am regular motor traffic is allowed in. On all the other days (Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday) we open at 8am.

TCNP TIP #3: Come early or on a slow day

Anyone that has visited TCNP on a weekend knows how busy it can become and how difficult it can be at times to find a parking or picnic spot.  The simplest way to avoid this headache is to visit during off-peak hours.  I have spent over a year and a half watching the traffic and I am more than happy to share what I have observed. Come Early: traffic at TCNP (even on weekends) tends to be at it’s height in the hotter parts of the day. Visitors that come out early get the best parking/picnic spots.  Thursdays:  If you can swing it, a Thursday is the best time to come out and find a spot to yourself. Wednesdays and Fridays can be just as busy as a weekend, but for some reason, Thursdays are usually quite slow.

TCNP TIP #4: Stay Hydrated

On a hot summer’s day, there is nothing better than cooling off in the refreshing waters of Turkey Creek. However, even in that cool water, you can quickly become dehydrated.  This happens quickly, and without a lot of warning at times. So, please drink a lot of water during your visit. It could save your life. Plus, it is never ends well if you are dizzy on slippery rocks!

TCNP TIP #5: There is more to TCNP than just “The Falls”

There is no doubt, The Falls offer some of the most majestic beauty TCNP has to offer. Their unique features bring many visitors to Turkey Creek, but they are often times quite crowded. For those of you that wish to enjoy the waters of TCNP or avoid the crowds, seek spots upstream of The Falls.  These upper reaches offer some equally stunning views of Turkey Creek, as well as some great spots to lounge in the shade. Furthermore, TCNP has recently added a mile and a half of beautiful new trail along the ridge above Turkey Creek. This offers visitors the opportunity park in the Highlands picnic area and hike to The Falls area.

Thank you for reading, I hope that these tips help you to better enjoy your next visit to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

Please remember, that we do not charge admission, and it is very difficult and expensive to keep the Preserve clean. On your next visit, take a look around you before you leave and pick up any trash (even if it is not yours). It will go a long way to making sure that others are able to enjoy TCNP as you have, and will help keep operational costs down.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at cyeager@bsc.edu.

Next week, contributing author Lyn DiClementel, will provide readers with some insight into the importance of controlling stormwater runoff in her column JeffCo H2O.”

Until then, we’ll see ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

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JeffCo H2O: Spread The Word

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When Less is More
     There are a few things that having more of can be a good thing.  Money and time are probably two of those things.  But with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, using more than is recommended doesn’t provide any benefit, and in some cases can do more harm than good. Soil can absorb only so much of these products, and overuse just wastes your time and money. The package directions will indicate the amount of product to use based upon the size of the area to be treated, and will recommend the application rate to set on the spreader or sprayer dial so that the product will be properly applied.  When to use yard chemicals is important, too.  Many people think that it is best to apply granular fertilizer right before or during a rain.  Actually, that is the worst time, because rain will wash much of it from your yard before the soil has time to absorb the nutrients, and will create stormwater pollution.  Choose a dry day to apply fertilizer, and then carefully water it in with a hose or sprinkler. 
     How big is your yard or garden? You know the formula: length X width = area. Don’t forget to subtract paved areas such as sidewalks and driveways from the total.
 
What Goes Around Comes Around
     We’ve all heard that phrase at one time or another.  And when you consider chemicals used in lawn and garden care, it couldn’t be truer.  Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides can be very helpful in achieving your landscape goals if you use only what your yard needs and carefully apply these products.  However, feeding your lawn and garden or ridding them of unwanted pests has the potential to create unintended results.  
     Many pesticides and herbicides cannot distinguish between a ‘pest’ and a ‘pal’, and most contain broad spectrum chemicals that kill all plants and insects they contact.  That includes insect ‘pals’ like bees and butterflies which are important in plant pollination.  Pesticides and herbicides also can be harmful to pets and humans if they are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or eaten.  Washed from your yard by rain or carried by wind into nearby streams, these chemicals do the same thing in water that they do on land:  herbicides and pesticides kill fish, animals, and plants that live in and around the water while fertilizers cause algal blooms that deplete oxygen in waterways, killing aquatic life.  Pesticides and herbicides also can enter the food chain when animals and plants absorb and retain these chemicals in their systems.  These affected plants and animals could be consumed by other animals and even humans.  That’s why it’s so important to choose the least toxic chemicals for the job and control where, when and how they are applied. 
     One alternative is to let nature do some of the work by establishing an eco balance in your yard.  Insect ‘pals’ like ladybugs, preying mantis, green lacewings and nematodes (worms) naturally feed on pests such as beetles, aphids, ants and mosquitoes.  Native plant ‘pals’ also can help create this equilibrium in your yard since many act as hosts for insect ‘pals’ and are resilient enough to thrive in our local conditions.  Over time, your efforts can become a sustainable solution to keeping your lawn and garden free from the effects of pests and reducing the need for yard chemicals.   
Mark Your Calendar!
April 13
Just in time for spring cleaning, Recycle Alabama Day from 9 – 2 at the Downtown Recycling Center, 2431 2nd Avenue North.  Visit http://www.recycleAL.com for details.
April 27
Come on out to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens 11-4 and celebrate the environment at Earth Day at the Gardens.
April 30
Learn how Integrated Pest Management can help you safely control your garden pests at the Urban Gardening IPM Workshop.  Call the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at 205.879.6964 Ext. 11 to register.
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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

JeffCo H2O: What’s the Roof Got To Do with It?

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What’s the Roof Got to Do with

It?

Actually, a lot!  During a one inch rain, a 1,000 square foot roof has about 600 gallons of stormwater running off of it.  That’s 600 gallons that are moving very quickly, picking up whatever is on the ground in your yard, carrying it into the storm drainage system, and emptying into the nearest waterway.  There are many ways to reduce the amount of stormwater that leaves your yard.  Collecting roof runoff in a rain barrel and using it later for yard irrigation, or diverting downspouts to a rain garden or natural area to allow water to soak into the ground are just a few.  How much stormwater runs off your roof? Just multiply the roof square footage X 0.6 (gallons per square foot per inch of rain).

The Middle

When it comes to stormwater pollution, the middle is where it all happens.   From your roof to the nearest waterway, anything on the ground or exposed to rain can become a pollutant!  And most of these sources of stormwater pollution come from our everyday practices:  fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from yards and gardens, motor oil and grease from miles of roads and parking lots, heavy metals from roofs, eroded soil from construction sites and home landscaping projects, waste from pets, and litter and trash are carried by stormwater into the storm drainage system where it all flows untreated into waterways.

If you consider that 659,000 people live in Jefferson County, the amount of stormwater pollution that we generate each day is….. well, it’s a lot.  And since we get about 54 inches of rain each year, managing stormwater in your yard is a good place to start.  Anything that slows it down, spreads it out, and allows it to soak into the ground will make a positive difference in our water quality.

Creating natural areas and planting trees in your yard are excellent ways to prevent stormwater from leaving your property.  Depending upon their size, trees can absorb hundreds of gallons of stormwater every year.  In addition, the leaf canopy slows rain drops while the root system helps anchor the soil, reducing erosion.  When selecting and planting a tree, make sure that the site you choose will accommodate its full grown size as well as its water and sunlight requirements.

Reducing the need for irrigation and chemicals is another way to make your yard more stormwater friendly.  Consider using pavers to transform some existing high-maintenance turf areas into permeable patios or paths.  Pavers that are set into sand or gravel are a decorative and easy addition to your yard, and allow stormwater to soak into the ground.  Your new path or patio also will reduce yard maintenance since it won’t require mowing!

Mark Your Calendar!

March 27

Four Legged Gardening.  Grab a lunch and head to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a free Lunch & Learn Seminar from 11:30 – 12:30.  Discover how to create a safe environment for your pets by learning the difference between pet friendly and unfriendly plants.

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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

TCNP Currents: The Hanby Enterprise Part 1

photosFor most, it is a small piece of local paradise, a chance to beat the heat, catch a fish, take a hike, or snap a photograph. Any local knows you always arrive early (parking can be tricky) and do not forget your socks (the rocks are slick!). Whatever your reason for visiting, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is a place of unique beauty that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Many visitors, however, are unaware that in addition to its rich natural resources, the Preserve plays a pivotal role in Alabama’s early industrial development. In fact, the most popular destination at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, known simply as The Falls, was once the center of one of the biggest industrialist operations in Alabama, and the home of John T. Hanby.

Around 1774, John Hanby, was born into the machinist’s trade, in Henry County, Virginia. It is believed that Hanby operated a small forge in Virginia, where he crafted a variety of tools, locks, and bored rifles. Around 1800, Mr. Hanby sold his land in Virginia and eventually made his way down to Lincoln County, Tennessee. During the War of 1812, John Hanby received a Captain’s commission in the 49th Regiment of Lincoln County. Under General Coffee, Hanby traveled down through Alabama working as a machinist and blacksmith. Many believe that Coffee’s regiment camped near Turkey Creek, as they journeyed south. If they did, Mr. Hanby’s keen observation skill and business savvy may have alerted him to the rich opportunity for development along the banks of Turkey Creek. Another theory suggests that Hanby may have relied on tips from prospectors to the region. Whatever the cause, after his military service ended around 1819, Hanby and his family settled at Turkey Creek.

While Hanby’s enterprises were spread across present day northern Jefferson County and Blount County, his operational center was located in Pinson. His operation at the Falls was believed to include not only his home, but also, a Dam, grist mill, forge, and a niter works.

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Mill Dam: Mr. Hanby choose his site carefully, with the knowledge that his work would require not only rich mineral resources, but also the means to power his bellows and grist mill.  Observant visitors to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve may have noticed a clue to how he produced this power, as well one of the first structures Hanby developed. Approximately 100 feet upstream of the “Big Rock”, a straight line of 19 small holes is bored into the rock. These holes once held iron pins, which provided support for a 6-foot tall wooden dam that tamed the waters of Turkey Creek.

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Grist Mill: From the dam, Hanby harnessed the power of Turkey Creek waters down a wooden flume to a large waterwheel. Investigations of the area suggest that this wheel, as well as Hanby’s Mill, were located on or behind the “Big Rock.”  Hanby’s mill wall can still be seen today opposite the “Big Rock.” This mill is likely to have grinded wheat into corn and flour for people as far away as Tuscaloosa and Selma in addition to have providing power for another source of revenue for the Hanby family, his forge.

Forge: From the Mill, belts were used to drive a bellows, producing fire hot enough to smelt iron. While this area is still under careful archaeological examination, artifacts including slag, hand forged nails, and brown ore confirm its relative location on the flat, glade next to the current road. The Hanby family is likely to have smelted brown ore for simple tools, kitchenware, horseshoes, and even possibly guns.

Hanby Homesite: An unnaturally flat spot of land on the hill above the Falls, is suspected to be the site of Hanby’s home. This flat area measures approximately 96 feet long, and would provide enough space for a small living quarters for himself and his family.  Nearby, a cold water spring head lined with stones is evidence of a possible cold food storage building. Many people today believe that Hanby’s home was relocated around 1910 by William Nabers to a site across from the Blue Hole. Mr. Nabers home was destroyed in a fire in the 1960s, so very little evidence remains.

Sometime in the 1820s, John Hanby’s son, David Hanby, began to take over the Hanby enterprises. The story of David Hanby starts with turbulent raft rides and ends in flames. Check back next month to learn how this story ends!

For more information related to the history of the Preserve, come out for one of our Living History Programs. Event dates can be found on our events calendar.

Next week, contributing author Lyn DiClementel, will provide readers with some insight into the importance of controlling stormwater runoff in her column JeffCo H2O.”

Until then, we’ll see ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

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Historical details and images are an interpretation of Richard K. Anderson, Jr findings published in “Turkey Creek Cultural Resource Mapping Project for Proposed Turkey Creek Preserve Pinson, Alabama” 2002

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Currents

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Welcome to the newly developed Turkey Creek Nature Preserve blog and website! Through this site, our goal is to provide the public with a steady stream (pun intended) of information in topics relevant to the life of TCNP, ranging from history and the environment, to events and support opportunities. We have a fantastic group of contributing authors volunteering their time to help make this blog possible. Weekly updates are scheduled, with occasional bonus posts of supplemental materials. If you have any suggestions, or would like to contribute your own articles, please contact Charles Yeager at cyeager@bsc.edu.

Until then, we’ll see ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

TCNP