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For the past several years, Freshwater Land Trust has led stewardship projects along Jefferson County’s Turkey Creek in an effort to improve water quality and endangered species habitat. Past projects include a dam removal and a culvert replacement, both which made it easier for endangered darter species to move upstream during their reproductive seasons.

This February, our team planted 800 trees along Turkey Creek with the goal of reintroducing native species and reducing erosion into the creek.

In 2014, Freshwater Land Trust worked with Jefferson County to acquire properties that had been subjected to frequent flooding. These flood buyout properties ranged from small, former residential lots to 15-acre tracts used for grazing horses and cattle. One of these grazing tracts is on Turkey Creek.

On this tract, our stewardship team removed severe invasive species infestations through mulching and chemical methods and planted 800 bottomland hardwood trees, completely revegetating a 100-foot buffer on the creek.

Our team also worked with a neighboring landowner whose horses have grazed on the property for years. The team built 1,500 feet of exclusion fencing to protect the new trees and Turkey Creek. The horses will continue grazing on a portion of the property further away from the water.

Ultimately, this reforestation project will result in native forest regeneration along one of the most biologically-significant streams in the southeast.

The project is also an excellent example of how land can simultaneously be used for agricultural purposes and managed for sensitive wildlife and a healthy ecosystem.

“I am very pleased the land trust owns this property and other land like it,” said Ron Henderson, a neighboring landowner. “This is a rare and beautiful creek. I want it to be protected.”

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