How one couple expanded Land Trust of North Alabama’s footprint

Kathleen Payment Joseph Rickman Mike Dalen 1
Cane Creek Canyon Preserve was donated to the Land Trust of North Alabama by the Lacefield family. (Mike Dalen)

As we reported earlier in the year, the Land Trust of North Alabama now manages more than 10,000 acres of land, a threshold met largely in part to nearly 700 acres of land donated by one North Alabama family.

Jim and Faye Lacefield donated the land in Colbert County that has become Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, a beautiful stretch of nature that you simply have to experience.

The Lacefields + Cane Creek Canyon

thumbnail Jim Fay Lacefield Mike Dalen
Jim and Faye Lacefield owned what is Cane Creek Canyon Preserve in Colbert County. (Mike Dalen)

Over the past 40 years, the Lacefields preserved the property southwest of Tuscumbia, created nearly 18 miles of hiking trails, cared for the land and welcomed visitors to explore or study there.

Cane Creek Canyon’s topography and dramatic falls provide a diverse ecological area supporting significant biodiversity and cultural history — as well as recreational and educational opportunities. So how did the Lacefields hook up with the Land Trust?

Land Trust board chair and volunteer Mike Dalen said the Lacefields initially contacted the Land Trust about 20 years ago about taking over management of the property. However, Dalen said at the time the Land Trust just did not have the capacity to take on a project like Cane Creek.

“I toured the property and was utterly amazed at the plants, water, caves and rock shelters. However, at the time the Land Trust was too small an operation to take on a project that big.”

Mike Dalen, Land Trust of North Alabama

So the Lacefields got in touch with The Nature Conservancy of Alabama and put together a conservation easement, where even if the land sold it would always be preserved.

According to Dalen, about three years ago the Lacefields and the Nature Conservancy had a falling out. That’s where the Land Trust stepped in and developed a transfer plan, and now Land Trust employees operate the Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve every weekend.

thumbnail Cane Creek Preserve Sign
The Land Trust of North Alabama proudly manages the Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve. (Mike Dalen)

New territory for the Land Trust of North Alabama

thumbnail Ben Payment 3 schnauzers
The Lacefields have let people hike and explore the canyon for decades. (Mike Dalen)

Although the Land Trust manages more than 10,000 acres in North Alabama, the organization did not have a presence in the Quad Cities area, Dalen said.

Hence, the acquisition of Cane Creek expanded the Land Trust’s footprint in the state.

“This acquisition is important to the Land Trust because it provides a fantastic recreational property in northwest Alabama where we did not have a presence. Hundreds of people visit Cane Creek every year and many of them are friends of the Lacefields. We now have a presence and rabid supporters in Colbert County.”

Mike Dalen, Land Trust of North Alabama

Dalen added that the Land Trust hopes to open an office in the Quad Cities and accelerate land preservation efforts in that part of Alabama.

thumbnail Devils Hollow Karens Falls Kellan Nina and Duke in pool
This area offers astounding topography and is an amazing place to explore. (Mike Dalen)

‘Walking the Walk’

thumbnail Frenchs shooting star wall Greg Foster Anne L and the dogs
The generosity and dedication of the Lacefields made Cane Creek Canyon Preserve possible. (Mike Dalen)

A discussion about this beautiful preserve always comes back to the Lacefields. Dalen said the determination and dedication (and obvious generosity) Jim and Faye have exhibited in making sure these 700 acres of North Alabama beauty remain preserved is unmatched.

“Jim and Faye Lacefield are the real deal.They worked with the Land Trust because we proved to them they could trust us to continue their legacy — keeping a national-park-calibre landscape preserved forever for the public to enjoy.”

Mike Dalen, Land Trust of North Alabama

Dalen added, “They walk the walk in every aspect of their lives.”

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is located at 251 Loop Rd, Tuscumbia, AL 35674 and is open to the public each weekend (Friday – Sunday from 7 AM – 5 PM).

Want more info and updates on what’s happening in and around Huntsville? Follow Hville Blast on FacebookTikTok and Instagram, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Michael Seale
Michael Seale
Articles: 684