LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — The City of Huntsville has donated 700 acres to the Land Trust of North Alabama preserving an extraordinary conservation area in Limestone County. This partnership with the City of Huntsville and Mazda Toyota Manufacturing ensures the protection of sensitive habitat along Beaverdam Creek, which is home to the endemic and threatened spring pygmy sunfish as well as the endangered slender campeloma snail. This land includes Beaverdam Swamp, Beaverdam Creek, Moore Branch, Ragland Spring and Moss Spring.
“The City of Huntsville is proud to offer these 700 acres to the Land Trust of North Alabama for habitat preservation. Since 2008, the City of Huntsville has always identified this area, thru our Western Lands Master Planning Process, as an area of sensitive concern and needed protection,” said Tommy Battle, Mayor of Huntsville. “Throughout our land planning efforts, the City of Huntsville has been proactive in habitat preservation. From working with landowners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on enacting Enhancement of Survival Permits with Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements, to funding annual population and habitat studies related to the Spring Pygmy Sunfish. The donation of these 700 acres is a continued commitment by the City of Huntsville in habitat preservation.”
For over a decade, the Land Trust has been the cooperating partner with the City of Huntsville, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and property owners along the creek to monitor the spring pygmy sunfish and its habitat. Forever Wild Land Trust, which is administered by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, purchased approximately 500 acres adjacent to this property last year, which includes Beaverdam Spring and most of its recharge area. The combination of these two preserved properties creates a tremendously significant ecological complex, now preserved and protected.
Several restrictions are placed on the use of the property to offer protection to the sensitive habitat. This includes no use of heavy equipment in or around the wetlands and waterways, no use of pesticides or herbicides, and no agricultural or extraction uses.
Last year, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing established an endowment fund which will be held and managed by the Land Trust with the guidance of a Scientific Committee consisting of experts with relevant scientific, technical, or regulatory expertise. These funds are designated solely for the promotion and protection of the viability of the spring pygmy sunfish and its habitat.
“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing maintains a commitment to environmental sustainability and is proud to call North Alabama home. We appreciate the importance our community places on preserving the environment and the interest our community takes in enjoying the outdoors. The Land Trust of North Alabama plays a vital role entrusting those values and we look forward to seeing them expand the work they do to protect the Beaverdam Spring Complex’s natural resources.” said Mazda Toyota Manufacturing VP of Administration Mark Brazeal.
In addition to the conservation of threatened or endangered species, this property provides a varied and robust habitat ideal for numerous species, especially birds, reptiles and amphibians, which will also benefit from this protection.
“Conservation partnerships like this one are a powerful tool in reaching the goal of preserving our area’s unique natural places.” said Land Trust of North Alabama Executive Director Marie Bostick.
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