Land Trust of North Alabama believes in protecting and caring for our area’s important natural spaces. Often the best way to ensure we can make the most significant impact is through partnerships. In 2014, The Nature Conservancy in Alabama (TNC) reached out to the Land Trust and invited us to partner to provide ongoing maintenance for two of their nature preserves in our service area – Keel Mountain Preserve and Roy B. Whitaker Preserve.
However, The Conservancy has made changes to add a staff member who will manage their properties in North Alabama. This means that as of July 1, 2019 Land Trust of North Alabama handed over management of these two preserves. While this chapter in our partnership has come to a close, we will continue to support each other’s efforts in conservation and work together to care for our environment and invite our community to join us in doing so.
Details of the Partnership: Throughout this collaboration, the Land Trust provided maintenance and oversite of recreational trails on two TNC preserves. This work included regular trail and trailhead maintenance, invasive species control, improvements to trail signage, construction of trailhead informational kiosks, and development of trail maps for each preserve. The parking area at Keel Mountain Preserve was enlarged to provide additional access for visitors and a bridge was installed over Cole Spring Branch at Roy B. Whitaker Preserve.
The Nature Conservancy in Alabama provided the Land Trust with financial support, unfettered access to TNC properties for guided hikes and other education programs, as well as property management materials and guidance.
Keel Mountain Preserve is located southeast of Huntsville off of McMullen Road. The property preserves one of only six documented populations of the federally endangered Morefield’s leatherflower. Keel Mountain’s forest of oak, hickory, smoketree, and cedar features ruggedly beautiful limestone bluffs and sinkholes. Lost Sink Falls, which flows into a sinkhole below, offers a memorable destination to reward hikers for a mile climb up the trail. More information at nature.org.
Roy B. Whitaker Preserve located in the Paint Rock Valley was once a cattle pasture and has been actively restored to floodplain forests grasslands, which are critical, but declining habitats in the Tennessee Valley. With the re-introduction of native grasses and hardwoods, as well as the restoration of Cole Springs Branch to its original path, many animals are returning to the preserve. It is a favorite spot on the North Alabama Birding Trail. With over a mile and half of Paint Rock River frontage, the Whitaker Preserve is a key component in the Conservancy’s effort to preserve and restore as much of the Paint Rock River watershed as possible. More Information at nature.org.