Freshwater Land Trust expanding efforts into Chilton County

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Freshwater Land Trust is expanding its efforts into Chilton County.

A Birmingham-based nonprofit organization, Freshwater Land Trust’s mission is the “acquisition and stewardship of lands that enhance water quality and preserve open space, according to information provided by the organization.

Wendy Jackson, executive director of the Freshwater Land Trust, said several “stakeholder” meetings have been held in Chilton County, where people have an opportunity to learn about the organization and about how they could contribute.

Jackson said the first meeting was held three years ago.

“We started to have a lot of success when people started to find out we’re focused on conservation and not advocacy,” Jackson said. “We don’t file lawsuits. We like people who hunt and fish. We try to bring people together on conservation.”

The organization helps landowners interested in preserving their land’s conservation values, such as family farms and working forests, scenic views, historical sites, public recreation and natural habitats for rare plants and animals.

Jackson said Land Trust representatives at the meetings asked residents about the places that mattered to them. Then, the potential conservation of those areas was studied.

“We look at places with cultural and historical value,” Jackson said. “There are places in each community that people know and love.”

In Chilton County, the Buxahatchee Creek area was listed as a Priority 1 area, or potential target, Jackson said.

Other areas mentioned included family farms, hunting land and fisheries.

“Even if a site mentioned to us by the community didn’t score Priority 1, if a landowner calls us and says he’d like to donate some land to your organization, we know from our meeting that 100 people, for example, care about the swimming hole that’s located on that property,” Jackson said. “Just because we have priority areas doesn’t mean those are the only areas we’re going to work.”

Though no project has begun, Jackson said she is “anxious” to get started in Chilton County.

“People in Alabama are really connected to the land, so this is important to them,” she said.

Jackson said sometimes the Land Trust owns land, or sometimes the original owner maintains ownership and instead works through a partnership with the Land Trust.

“If anyone wants to have a conversation with us, call us,” Jackson said. “Some of the best projects have started out with a phone call. Whether it’s an elected official looking at a park or a landowner looking at maintaining the family farm, we’d like to talk with them. We want everybody to know that we’ll be good neighbors.”

The Freshwater Land Trust can be reached at (205) 417-2777 or, or visit

Since 1996, Freshwater Land Trust has worked to acquire, conserve and connect lands that are “critical for the protection of rivers and streams and that provide recreational opportunities for the community,” according to the organization.

The Freshwater Land Trust owns and manages more than 5,000 acres.

In addition to Jefferson County, where it is headquartered, and Chilton County, the organization operates in Bibb, Blount, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties.

Some of the Trust’s projects include Red Mountain Park, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, and Five Mile Creek Greenway Partnership.

The Freshwater Land Trust is nationally accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and operates with a dedicated board of directors and trained staff.