If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times: the Huntsville area is growing quickly.
While that growth is certainly exciting for North Alabama residents, there are also consequences that must be considered, like the threat that rapid growth could pose to the natural world.
Below, we discuss the local areas that are most in need of preservation and what you can do about it.
Thrive Regional Partnership report
Thrive Regional Partnership, a nonprofit that operates out of Chattanooga, released a report recently highlighting seven specific “Habitat Anchors,” or areas of highest priority for conservation efforts in “The Cradle of Southern Appalachia.” Those spots include:
- The Paint Rock Watershed (Jackson County, Alabama)
- The Cumberland Plateau (Marion County, Tennessee)
- Walden Ridge (Bledsoe/Sequatchie/Hamilton County, Tennessee)
- Lookout & Pigeon Mountains (Dade County, Georgia)
- The Appalachian Connector (Murray County, Georgia)
- The Southern Blue Ridge Mountains (Polk County, Tennessee)
- The Hiwasse River Corridor (Bradley/McMinn County, Tennessee)
Thrive’s Natural Treasures Alliance seeks to preserve local biodiversity and natural beauty by “(expanding) outdoor recreation opportunities and (espousing) regional conservation benchmarks,” starting with these seven spots in the Cradle of Southern Appalachia.
Thrive Regional Partnership’s goal
Starting with the areas highlighted in the report, Thrive seeks to work alongside the business and transportation sectors to promote conservation and resilience to climate change. By 2055, the partnership seeks to achieve the following goals for the Cradle of Southern Appalachia Project:
- Conserve at least 50% of unprotected forests in the region.
- Improve water quality of at least 50% of polluted streams in the region
- Keep common species common by protecting 90% of those at risk.
- Foster conservation awareness and education.
Paint Rock Watershed
The Paint Rock Watershed, a 450-square-mile region around the Paint Rock River, is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Here’s some of what you’ll find in the area:
- Alabama Lampmussel
- Cerulean Warbler
- Green salamander
- Palezone Shiner
- White fringeless orchid
- 12 globally rare species of mussels
- 90 species of troglobites (animals that dwell exclusively underground)
Most of the watershed is in Jackson County, Alabama, which is also known for its plethora of caves.
What can you do?
Get involved in a conservation group
You don’t have to look far to find local and statewide conservation groups looking for new members. These groups know the land like no other, and they would love to have your help. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about how to conserve and preserve the natural world and maybe make some friends along the way.
Alabama residents can start here:
- Land Trust of North Alabama
- Nature Conservancy Alabama
- Paint Rock Forest Research Center
- Sierra Club of North Alabama
- Tennessee Riverkeeper
- Waterkeepers Alabama
- Wildlife Federation – Alabama
Bolster your love for the natural world by getting out in it. The Huntsville/North Alabama area has lots of hiking trails, state parks and other ways to enjoy the great outdoors, like:
- Buck’s Pocket State Park
- Cathedral Caverns State Park
- De Soto State Park
- Joe Wheeler State Park
- Lake Guntersville State Park
- Monte Sano State Park
- Russell Cave National Monument