Storm destroys Turkey Creek Nature Preserve greenhouse. Learn how you can help bring it back

Fallen tree destroys the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve greenhouse. Photo by Charles Yeager

As a result of heavy rainfall on Saturday and subsequent late night storms that hit Central Alabama, a tree was uprooted at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve destroying the nature  center’s recently constructed greenhouse.

“We had a large pine tree that fell on our greenhouse, work-shed and part of our shade house last night.” said Charles Yeager, director of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. This Sunday morning  it was sitting on top of the greenhouse, with it pretty much crumpled. The hoops are totally destroyed, the framing is twisted, it is pretty much a total loss.”

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson, is the most popular nature area in the state of Alabama’s Forever Wild Program. Home to the Vermilion darter, one of the rarest fish on the planet, the preserve is a local “natural wonder” for thousands of students, families and visitors.

The story of the greenhouse

Photo of the greenhouse before it was destroyed by a fallen tree on December 9, 2018. Photo from Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Facebook page

According to Yeager, the nature preserve originally started the nursery to grow native plants for restoration projects.


“A lot of the native plants we like to use for plantings in the preserve are impossible to find at local nurseries. Along with re-planting in the preserve, we saw an opportunity to fund-raise by selling  the extra plants to raise money for the preserve.”

Want to bring back the greenhouse? Contribute to the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College which operates the  preserve – HERE

A labor of love

Construction of the greenhouse began 2 years ago.  The nursery  has been operating for a year and a half.

Volunteers  work in the greenhouse every Friday. It was funded by a Supplemental Environmental Project grant from Barbers/Mayfield. Built by volunteers and Preserve staff using reused hoops that came from an old nursery in Mississippi, they basically built a $50,000 structure for $15,000.


The greenhouse couldn’t be insured because it wasn’t a permanent structure, according to Roald Hazelhoff, director of the Southern Environmental Center.

Fallen tree destroys the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve greenhouse. Photo by Charles Yeager

The mission

In a nutshell, the loss of the greenhouse is a major blow for the preserve. It impacts the stewardship efforts within the preserve, educational programs and most importantly fundraising initiatives.

“Every plant that we grow is sourced from Turkey Creek.  The seeds are collected from Turkey Creek, volunteers then plant in the greenhouse, and then they use it for educational purposes, fundraising and re-planting in the preserve,” described Yeager.

Bringing back Turkey Creek Nature Preserve greenhouse

Several community volunteers have already stepped up and started raising monies to rebuild the greenhouse.  Here is a post on Facebook by Van Coffey,  a Turkey Creek volunteer ranger and supporter.


Give to the Southern Environmental Center

You can also help restore the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve greenhouse by making a contribution to the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College which operates the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Make your contribution –  HERE.

If you have any questions – call Michelle Hampton at 205-226-7740 or email mhampton@bsc.edu

Make a difference today

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is one of our communities treasures.  The  greenhouse helps restore the preserve’s natural beauty while also keeping it  financially sustainable. Make a difference today and help re-build the greenhouse.


Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.