Property exchange at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve a win-win for nature education and conservation

Birmingham Alabama
Turkey Creek – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

The land at the entrance of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, the “gateway” to the popular recreational area, is now owned by the city of Pinson, thanks to a win-win land exchange with the Freshwater Land Trust. 

What Happened

Birmingham Alabama
Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

This past week, Freshwater Land Trust (FLT) and the City of Pinson, in partnership with Birmingham-Southern College’s Southern Environmental Center, finalized a property exchange involving the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve (TCNP), which is located within Pinson’s city limits. 

The Exchange

Freshwater Land Trust gave 28 acres of property within the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve to the City of Pinson. In exchange, the land trust received the 34-acre “Dry Creek” property off Sweeney Hollow Road from the City of Pinson. 

Why This Matters

Birmingham Alabama
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Photo by Pat Byington

For over two years, the Southern Environmental Center, which operates TCNP, has proposed and raised funds to build a multi-use pavilion within the preserve on the Freshwater Land Trust property. 

This is a great project because the use of the new facility will help fund the TCNP nature education center and programs.

There was one problem.  

The Freshwater Land Trust, which fully supports these efforts was not equipped to take on the responsibilities that would come with the pavilion rental. 

That’s when the City of Pinson stepped up.

Pinson, which was already a significant financial supporter to the nature education center, has a vested interest in ensuring the continuation and success of the pavilion, the education center, and the management of TCNP. The City is also in a good position to provide the oversight and security needed as the pavilion is used as a rental facility. 

Meanwhile...

In 2019, the City of Pinson acquired the 34-acre property of undeveloped bottomland floodplain off Sweeney Hollow Road to serve as a flood mitigation property and prevent future development that would increase flood hazards. In addition to that land, the Land Trust has conserved over 400 additional acres in the City and Turkey Creek watershed.

Land Exchange Supports Each Group’s Mission

Birmingham, Alabama, Red Rock Trail System, Freshwater Land Trust, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve
Turkey Creek. Photo via Freshwater Land Trust’s Instagram

In a news release, Rusha Smith, Executive Director of Freshwater Land Trust explained the exchange best.

“This property exchange makes perfect sense for everyone. The City, in conjunction with the Southern Environmental Center can provide the best resources needed for the pavilion at TCNP, and Freshwater Land Trust can expand its land and water protection efforts in and around Turkey Creek.” 

Pinson’s new Mayor-Elect Joe Cochran added.

“I am excited for the continued partnership between the Freshwater Land Trust and the City of Pinson,” said “These relationships have helped make Pinson and the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve a destination for families from all over Alabama and the country.” 

More about the Freshwater Land Trust

Red Mountain Park
Aerial view of Red Mountain Park, Birmingham’s largest public nature preserve spanning over 1500 acres. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you are not familiar with the Freshwater Land Trust, it is one of the most impactful land trusts in Alabama and the Southeast. Along with conserving 7500 acres in Central Alabama, the land trust helped create three iconic nature preserves and a trail system.

Freshwater Land Trust
Bernie Kuhajda & Eric Spadgenske upstream of former dam site – photo courtesy of Freshwater Land Trust

The Freshwater Land Trust also protects land through conservation easements

“A lot of what we do impacts the public but it is not always open to the public.  It is the smaller land conservation efforts through generous donations by land owners who place conservation easements on their property that help piece together conservation values across the county and Central Alabama that benefits water quality habitat protection for the greater good in perpetually.”  – Liz Sims, Land Conservation Director at the Freshwater Land Trust.

Want to learn more? Visit Freshwaterlandtrust.org


  • 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.