Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pack 85 at PARA Park

Pack 85 at PARA Park, 

A Sunday Afternoon Hike

For many years now, I have been trying to get more kids involved in the protection and appreciation of Hurricane Creek. We have been involved in Boy Scout "Eagle Scout" projects where some very cool trails were built for the public to get out and enjoy the scenic beauty of Hurricane Creek. 

This Sunday I had the privilege of entertaining about a dozen well behaved Cub Scouts on a hike through the park. They were all excited to see the water. For some this would be the first trip to the creek ever. 

First stop was the gravel bar at the swimming hole. As I stood back and watched, I was reminded of times when I was younger and stood on the banks of the Warrior River with my cousins learning the fine art of skipping rocks as far as possible across the river. Of course none made it all the way across but we all felt that we could do anything. 

I could tell that many of these kids were here for the first time but it certainly would not be the last.  I am not completely sure that the dads and Cub Leaders weren't having just as much fun as the Cub Scouts.
After a few minutes of skipping rocks I told them that there was a lot more to see so we had to get going along the trail. As we left the beach area I overheard one of the leaders telling a Scout... "Yes, we can come back"

Once on the trail, the kids soon forgot skipping rocks and started climbing them. It's easy to see the attraction if you come out and look. Hurricane Creek is the Southernmost free flowing stream in the Appalachian Mountains. It is nestled in a canyon of steep rock cliffs that date back billions of years. In one particular rock face, a complete tree can be seen exposed as a fossil. The kids were amazed.

Farther along the trail I began to hear questions about "what kind on nut is this?" "What kind of plant is this?" "How did this rock get from up there to down here?" "Why is mud bad for the creek?" As we walked along I began to realize that this was the beginning of a dream come true.

The Friends of Hurricane Creek have been steadfast in the idea of protecting this area for a teaching facility, recreational outlet, and an investment in the youth of Tuscaloosa County. Our kids need a place like this to learn about nature in a natural setting. You can't learn about the smell of the woods or the sight of a dew covered spiderweb in a classroom setting. We have to keep places like this in protection for our children and their children to learn real life nature science. 

Please consider going to the FoHC web site ans signing onto our petition to get the Alabama Dep. of Transportation (ALDOT) to reconsider destroying this living, breathing, and scenic classroom laboratory for a highway. A highway that will only serve a few developers make more short term money. 

These kids and the many other scouts, church groups and educators deserve this place and want to keep it safe and clean for the entire community. Cub Scout Pack 85 had such a great time that they have committed to coming back and making the trails a community service badge project. Let's help them continue to grow and learn in a natural setting like the "M" Bend Park on Hurricane Creek.
"M" Bend Park. (flight provided by SouthWings)


  1. Great work and great ideas, John! For some of these kids this will probably be the start of a life-long interest in not just this creek, but the outdoors and nature in general. Hopefully, some will come back and do projects at the M Bend area as Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts or biology students from high school, college, or graduate school.

    My life-long interest in biology got a huge boost when my family moved near Eslava Creek in Mobile and the nearby branches and swamps, which had not been channelized or drained in those days. This sort of experience is very important in a person's development.

    As you and others have said before, the Hurricane Creek area is a priceless resource for research in any number of fields, including limnology, ecology, geology, archaeology, history, and paleontology to name a few. The proximity to the Univ. of AL and other schools should make it extremely convenient for student projects. I think useful and meaningful class trips could be taken in as little as a two or three hour lab period, for example, to collect water samples to be examined for phytoplankton and zooplankton back in the lab.

    Carol even thinks of the area as a sort of "refugium," a place where species of all types have survived because of shelter from destructive human interference.

    1. Thanks Doug, I fully agree. What we have in Hurricane Creek is a treasure chest of knowledge.