Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Pearl in The Necklace

Another Pearl in The Necklace

which is the "M" Bend Park

With the coming of Spring and the floral explosion that is known as Hurricane Creek, people will be wanting to come see it all. But where can you go and not be on private property to experience this Alabama wonder?

When I was a kid, my mother started all of her girl grandchildren off with an "Add-a-Pearl" necklace. First year they got 1 pearl, second year another and so on.

I like to refer to the M Bend of Hurricane Creek as an Add-a-Pearl Park.

The story started long ago when the people were abusing the land by using it for trash dumps and highly destructive 4 wheel drive vehicle recreation.  Some may think it causes no harm but that is a very misguided notion. In 2 years before PARA purchased I documented 7 pickup trucks having to be pulled from the swimming area alone.

Shortly after this video aired the family who owned the land contacted me and asked for help in patrolling the land and keeping an eye out for trouble.  Jim Shaddox and I met with the Stanley Parks family at the creek and discussed options. At the end of the conversation, Mr. Parks came out of the blue with this... If this land comes available for sale, would your group be interested? I have a developer who wants it but I want it preserved if possible. With no hesitation, I committed to over 1/2 million dollars for the land. (no idea where it would come from) We contacted a land trust company who facilitated the sale and it was they who brought PARA on board at our suggestion.

Pearl #1

Enter Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Association 

It was a beautiful Spring day when then director Don Kelly, current director Gary Minor and several of the PARA team paddled the creek for their first assessment.

At the end of the day we all agreed that this was a place that needed protection!

The "M" Bend of Hurricane Creek is a PARA park and open to the public.

Pearl # 2,

Boy Scouts of America build low impact trails.
Over the last couple of years the Boy Scouts of America have been busy building hiking trails along the creek bank.
They took great care to disturb as little as possible during the process which left a trail that looks as it is as much a part of the area as the majestic trees it passes under.

The trails take you along the banks of one of the most beautiful creeks in the world. Hurricane Creek is special for many reasons. one of which is the position it takes on the "Fall Line" of the Appalachian Mountains. With the connection to the Upper Coastal Plain and the mountains there is an overlap in flora and fauna equaled only on the Tibetan Plateau according to Dr. E.O. Wilson, Harvard University.

Since the Eagle Scout trails were built, you can now walk along the creek until you get to the new benches, then sit a while enjoying the sounds of the creek and the many birds in the trees.

 Pearl #3

Cub Scout Pack 85 work on clearing the trails
Cub Scouts, Pack 85 have also added their touches to the trails by helping clear them of trash and debris.

These young people have volunteered to help keep the trails up so YOU can bring your children or grandchildren to this natural wonder that is Hurricane Creek. (the parents helped some too)


Pearl #4

The West Alabama Mountain Biking Association build new bike trails

Earlier this year, PARA announced the plan for improving the site by adding bicycle trails to the upper regions of the park. The West Alabama Mountain Biking Association (WAMBA) has been hard at work trying to complete the first segment of the trail during the winter months. So far they have "roughed in" about 1/2 mile of riding trail that connects to the parks interior plateaus. It will run along fairly leveled bench trail segments to the old road that leads to the interior of the park.

Gary Falls, WAMBA, and long time Friend of Hurricane Creek had this to say about the trails. "When we are done, these trails will be the best in the area." I agree. WAMBA is responsible for the bike trails in Lake Lurleen Park. If you haven't seen them, take time to go and look at the type of premier trails coming to the "M" Bend. This is Phase I project will be a major undertaking for the club given the limited manpower. Volunteers should contact PARA or WAMBA to get involved.

Here is the roughed in trail. The finished product will be something to behold!

Many thanks from Friends of Hurricane Creek to PARA, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of America, West Alabama Mountain Biking Association, and the many individual volunteers that have come out and helped expose this crown jewel of Tuscaloosa County to the public as something to be treasured.

I will leave you with these words from Dr. E. O. Wilson, Curator Emeritus of Entomology, Harvard University... 

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