From ocean shores to mountain trails, there is much to explore in the Yellowhammer state. To encourage local Alabama residents to explore nature this summer, one of our partners, The Nature Conservancy, has launched the Natural Treasures challenge, sponsored by Honda. One grand prize winner chosen at random will receive a new Honda Civic Hybrid!
Participating is as simple as taking a “selfie.” For a chance to win, residents of Alabama, Indiana and Ohio must visit one or more designated Natural Treasures locations, photograph themselves there, and upload the photo to Nature.org/NaturalTreasures.
Participants can receive one contest entry for each official Natural Treasures destination where they take a photo. They can also receive one contest entry for a photo taken at a Personal Natural Treasure, which could be a favorite place to hike or bike in the outdoors.
Alabama’s designated Natural Treasures locations, listed below, were selected by the Conservancy because of their importance to people and nature. Have you ever been to any of them? Well, get your cameras ready because you could be the lucky one to win a brand new Honda Civic Hybrid!
This site is the most biologically diverse piece of land in Alabama. “A Botanical Wonder,” The Nature Conservancy’s preserve in Bibb County is home to 61 rare plant species. The Little Cahaba River, which flows through the preserve, harbors dozens of rare aquatic creatures. The preserve is also the site of Brighthope Furnace, the earliest ironworks built in Alabama.
This 700-acre site is a privately protected scenic area. It serves as a sanctuary for native plants and animals and offers 11 miles of hiking as well as camping, picnicking, and creek wading. This remarkable area of natural beauty is still unspoiled largely due to an equally remarkable couple, Jim and Faye Lacefield. The retired educators bought a 40-acre tract of land in 1979 and have gradually added to that original purchase, keeping the land in its natural state.
This preserve is home to more than 12 species of carnivorous plants, including five species of pitcher plants, two species of butterworts and several species of sundews. Rare animals including Bachman’s sparrow, Florida pine snake and gopher tortoise have also been spotted.
As you step onto the trail at Keel Mountain Preserve, you are immediately immersed in a forest of oak, hickory, smoketree and cedar. Ruggedly beautiful limestone bluffs are spotted with sinkholes and glade-like openings. The creek beds at this preserve can run high or become dry very quickly depending on local rainfalls. A small waterfall flowing into a sinkhole has been dubbed the “lost sink” by local residents.
This preserve is an ideal destination to experience north Alabama’s scenery and wildlife. Wildlife is sometimes easier to spot on the open fields of the preserve, and even the untrained eye can see many birds that hunt and nest in the prairie. Colorful wildflowers also dot the grasses, and a shaded trail runs alongside Cole Springs Branch.
The third largest urban nature preserve in the United States, Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve includes 1,038 forested acres nestled in Birmingham, Alabama. The preserve protects over 550 species of plants and 450 species of animals and is an important stopover for migratory birds.
Pratt’s Ferry Preserve is located along a rocky limestone slope on the south bank of the Cahaba River in Bibb County. The area is lush in the spring and summer with a variety of wildflowers. The site also offers an ideal location to put in or take out a canoe on the Cahaba River.
The spectacular southern scenery of the Talladega National Forest covers 392,567 acres at the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. Before the land was bought by the federal government in the 1930s, the area that comprises the Talladega was extensively logged and was some of the most abused, eroded wasteland in all of Alabama. The pine forest regrowth now hosts a diverse ecosystem, beautiful views and a peaceful natural resource for Alabama.