Russell Cave National Monument
The Russell Cave National Monument is a U. S. National Monument in northeastern Alabama, United States, close to the town of Bridgeport; the Monument was established on May 11, 1961, when 310 acres of land were donated by the National Geographic Society to the American people. It is now maintained by the National Park Service; the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. Russell Cave has an exceptionally large main entrance, used for thousands of years as a shelter by cultures of prehistoric Indians, from 6500 BCE, the period of earliest-known human settlement in the southeastern United States, to 1650 CE and the period of European colonization, it is believed to have served as a seasonal winter shelter. The people relied on the surrounding forest to gather produce and hunt for game and fish and game for tools, wood fuel for fires. Guided tours of the shelter area are available. With a mapped length of 7.2 miles, Russell Cave is the third-longest mapped cave in Alabama.
It is ranked 90th on the United States Long Cave List, is listed as number 314 on the World Long Cave List. Caving is no longer allowed inside the cave; the grounds offer trails for walking, the area is a station on the North Alabama Birding Trail. The rock from which Russell Cave was carved was formed over 300 million years ago at the bottom of an inland sea covering the region. Due to continental drift, the area, now northeast Alabama was located close to the Equator at the time this limestone was forming; this area is now located in a temperate climate, but 300 million years ago it was a shallow, tropical sea. Carbonaceous deposits of skeletons and shells were transformed into limestone. Rainwater, mildly acidic from atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolved a portion of the limestone rock, resulting in the formation of the cave. About 9,000 to 12,000 years ago, the collapse of a cavern roof beneath a hillside near Doran's Cove created a sinkhole and exposed Russell Cave; until shortly before the first occupation by Native Americans, the cavern was uninhabitable due to the large stream that occupied the entirety of the cavern.
A rockfall from the cavern roof diverted the stream to one side, exposing a portion of the cave floor. The first occupants lived on this irregular floor of rock slabs. Debris from occupants and deposits falling from the ceiling raised the floor; the floor was raised an additional seven to eight feet and up to 30 feet near the upper entrance. In the 1960s, after the cave had been excavated, the United States Bureau of Mines installed 15 feet -long bolts as supports to prevent additional collapses of limestone rock; the cave mouth faces to the east, preventing the ingress of cold north and northwest winds and allowing in the morning sun. According to a published cave map, the cave has five entrances in addition to the Main Entrance. Three of the entrances are referred to as Canoe Entrances, while the other two are named the Picnic Entrance and Pig Entrance. A natural spring flows into the cave and travels underground for 1.5 miles before joining Widow's Creek and the Tennessee River. The history of thousands of years of prehistoric humans has been revealed at this archeological site.
Chipped flint points and charcoal from campfires provide evidence that occupation of Russell Cave began nearly 10,000 years ago by Native Americans in the southeastern Archaic period. The charcoal remains of the first fires in the cavern date to between 6550 and 6145 BCE, based on radiocarbon dating; as the people were hunter-gatherers, it is that they occupied the cave only during the autumn and winter seasons, when they needed more shelter. According to John Griffin, the issue of seasonality remains to be determined. Evidence indicating occupation in autumn and winter include; the presence of shellfish artifacts clouds the determination somewhat, as shellfish would have been easier to procure during periods of dry weather in mid-spring and late summer. However, William J. Clench has suggested that the occupants may have brought mussels and snails to store in nearby bodies of water for use as needed including in autumn or winter. Based on the existing information, Griffin is "strongly inclined" to view Russell Cave as a place of winter occupancy.
In addition to serving as a shelter, the cave would have provided a constant source of water as temperatures in the protected area remained above freezing. The cave's occupancy was limited by individuals' need for mobility and by how much the land could support the people; the surrounding hardwood forest and nearby Tennessee River served as sources of food throughout the year. The food sources would have included aquatic animals and small mammals taken in hunting; the women would gather and process a variety of nuts and roots. Larger animals such as deer and black bears were commonly hunted by the men when the seasons permitted. Griffin has stated; as gatherers, these occupants would have consumed fruits and berries, although these plant foods may have been scarce or unavailable during the seasons of cave occupancy. Speaking, hunter-gathers relied more on plant foods than they did animals. Indirect evidence of gathering includes pits for storage of nuts and seeds
William B. Bankhead National Forest
The William B. Bankhead National Forest is one of Alabama's four National Forests, it is home to Alabama's only National Scenic River, the Sipsey Fork. It is located around the town of Double Springs, it is named in honor of William B. Bankhead, a longtime U. S. Representative from Alabama. Known as the "land of a thousand waterfalls", this National Forest is popular for hiking, horseback riding, boating, swimming and more. Within the forest lies the Sipsey Wilderness, with a host of wildlife and an abundance of swift streams, limestone bluffs, waterfalls. Native American relics abound in Bankhead, one of the Southern United States's premier sites for petroglyphs, prehistoric drawings, rock carvings, at sites such as the Kinlock Shelter; the forest is headquartered in Montgomery. The other National Forests in the state are Conecuh and Tuskegee. There are local ranger district offices located in Double Springs; the forest was established as Alabama National Forest on January 1918 with 66,008 acres. On June 19, 1936 it was renamed Black Warrior National Forest, which in turn was renamed William B.
Bankhead National Forest on June 6, 1942. In 1959, Executive Order 10850 removed land from the forest's boundaries. William B. Bankhead National Forest Map Highlighting the National Forest's Boundaries
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge is a 9,016-acre National Wildlife Refuge located in eastern Alabama, near Anniston, Alabama on the former site of Fort McClellan. It takes its name from some of the last remaining mountain longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States. 3,000 acres of the refuge is open to the public during daylight hours. The remaining 6,000 acres will open after the clean-up of environmental contaminants has been completed; the facility has a small two person staff with a $250,000 annual budget. Plans call for a budget of $900,000 with a ten-person staff. Mountain Longleaf NWR administers the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge & Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge. Mountain Longleaf NWR is located on the former military training lands of Fort McClellan; the mountains of the refuge and the Talladega Mountains, are a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southernmost portions of the Appalachian Mountains. Mountain Longleaf serves as a home to several endangered species including the red-cockaded woodpecker and the gray bat.
Cougars have been sighted in the area. Other than the mountain longleaf pine, other plant species warranting special attention include the white-fringeless orchid, an endangered species candidate, as well as 11 species of flora and 21 species of fauna which are considered rare. Mountain Longleaf is a new wildlife refuge and, as such, has not yet developed any sizable tourist facilities. A single information kiosk is located at the junction of Ridge Road South. Additionally, part of the reserve is closed to pending environmental cleanup. Otherwise, there are limited opportunities for hiking and wildlife observation at the refuge. List of National Wildlife Refuges Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge homepage
The Sipsey Wilderness lies within Bankhead National Forest around the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River in northwestern Alabama, United States. Designated in 1975 and expanded in 1988, the 24,922-acre Sipsey is the largest and most visited Wilderness area in Alabama and contains dozens of waterfalls, it was the first designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. The wilderness consists of the low plateau of Brindlee Mountain, dissected into a rough landscape by several creeks and rivers. Due to the layers of limestone and sandstone that make up the area, waterfalls are common in the wilderness; this feature has earned the wilderness the nickname "Land of 1000 Waterfalls." The wilderness is in the Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests ecoregion. Much of the wilderness was once logged, but new growth forests have now taken hold in the logged areas; some old-growth forests can be found in the wilderness. The most significant are about 260 acres along Bee Branch Gorge and Buck Rough Canyon, which include old Eastern Hemlock, American Beech, Sweet Birch, White Oak, Tulip Poplar.
The Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club promotes hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness. Faults in the 1964 Wilderness Act made it impossible to designate a wilderness area anywhere east of the Mississippi River. Mary Ivy Burks of Birmingham worked to establish a Sipsey Wilderness Area in the Bankhead National Forest at a time when many believed that "The Wilderness Act" should apply only to the western part of the United States, she was in the forefront of. Her work to secure the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest was her crowning achievement. John Randolph and Mike Leonard led the effort to expand the wilderness in a second phase during the 1980s. Alabama would be the agent of change, as a strange union of environmentalists, bird watchers, others joined together to push to change the Act to allow for the designation of Sipsey as a wilderness area. Thanks to a bill introduced by Senator John Sparkman, the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act of 1975, the wilderness was designated with an original size of 12,000 acres.
The wilderness would be expanded in 1988. Thanks to the changes made to the Act, dozens of wilderness areas have been designated across the United States; the Sipsey Wilderness helped to show that a smaller plot of restored land in the eastern US could be a wilderness just as much as a larger tract of virgin land in the west. Sipsey River Picnic Area Randolph Trailhead Thompson Trailhead Borden Creek Trailhead Braziel Creek Trailhead Gum Pond Trailhead Flannigin TrailheadDirections to trailheads are available from the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club. FT 200: Borden Creek Trail, 2.7 mi. FT 201: Rippey Trail, 2.6 mi. FT 202: Randolph Trail, 3.4 mi. FT 203: Lookout Trail, 4.3 mi. FT 204: Bee Ridge Trail, 2.7 mi. FT 206: Thompson Creek Trail, 3.7 mi. FT 207: Braziel Creek Trail, 4.6 mi. FT 208: Northwest Trail, 7.0 mi. FT 209: Sipsey River Trail, 6.7 mi. FT 210: Mitchell Ridge Trail, 7.3 mi. FT 223: Gum Pond Trail, 1.8 mi. FT 224: Bunyan Hill Trail, 4.8 mi. Trail maps are available from the U. S. Forest Service, from Briartech.
During the 2011 Super Outbreak, there was extensive damage to much of the north Sipsey area. It was not considered feasible to repair the trail system at the time and efforts were focused on more popular routes. Several badly damaged trails were considered "abandoned" indefinitely, pending the resources to clear them. There is a notice to this effect placarded at the main Sipsey Trailhead, however this notice is not always present at outlying trailheads, it appears that more some effort to clear and reroute the remainder of these trails has started taking place, although it is limited and trail reports continue to suggest difficulty hiking and following some less common trails. It is suggested. Saltpeter Furnace: Located not far from the Bee Branches, a small cave is hidden by a waterfall, that cave was once so important that a small skirmish was fought at the nearby Hubbard Mill during the American Civil War; the cave is a source of a major ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder. Sipsey River Picnic Area: Where Cranal Road crosses the Sipsey River, a day-use area has been constructed to allow for picnicking and to serve as a parking area for hiking in the area.
A $3 per vehicle day use fee is charged. The Battle for Alabama's Wilderness. Sipsey Wilderness - USDA Forest Service Wilderness - Wilderness.net TopoQuest map of region Trail Map - USDA Forest Service Borden Creek Hiking Trail Sipsey River Hiking Trail Bee Branch Trail
National Wildlife Refuge
National Wildlife Refuge System is a designation for certain protected areas of the United States managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the system has grown to over 562 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 150,000,000 acres; the mission of the refuge system is "To administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and where appropriate, restoration of fish and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of the present and future generations of Americans". The system maintains the biological integrity and environmental health of these natural resources and enables for associated public enjoyment of these areas where compatible with conservation efforts.
National Wildlife Refuges manage a full range of habitat types, including wetlands, prairies and marine areas, temperate and boreal forests. The management of each habitat is a complex web of controlling or eradicating invasive species, using fire in a prescribed manner, assuring adequate water resources, assessing external threats such as development or contamination. Among these, hundreds of national refuges are home to some 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, more than 1000 species of fish. Endangered species are a priority of National Wildlife Refuges in that nearly 60 refuges have been established with the primary purpose of conserving 280 threatened or endangered species. National Wildlife Refuges are places where visitors can participate in a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities; the National Wildlife Refuge System welcomes nearly 50 million visitors each year. The system manages six wildlife-dependent recreational uses in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, including hunting, birding, environmental education, environmental interpretation.
Hunters visit more than 350 hunting programs on refuges and on about 36,000 waterfowl production areas. Opportunities for fresh or saltwater fishing are available at more than 340 refuges. At least one wildlife refuge is in each of the 50 states. National Wildlife Refuge System employees are responsible for planning, biological monitoring and habitat conservation, contaminants management, visitor services and environmental education, heavy equipment operation, law enforcement, fire management; the National Wildlife Refuge System is dealing with such issues as urban intrusion/development, habitat fragmentation, degradation of water quantity and quality, climate change, invasive species, increasing demands for recreation, increasing demands for energy development. The system has had numerous successes, including providing a habitat for endangered species, migratory birds and numerous other valuable animals, implementation of the NWRS Improvement Act and protection of key critical inholdings, establishing leadership in habitat restoration and management.
The agency has created Comprehensive Conservation Plans for each refuge, developed through consultation with private and public stakeholders. These began a review process by stakeholders beginning in 2013; the CCPs must be consistent with the Fish and Wildlife Service goals for conservation and wildlife management. The CCPs outline conservation goals for each refuge for 15 years into the future, with the intent that they will be revised every 15 years thereafter; the comprehensive conservation planning process requires several phases, including a scoping phase, in which each refuge holds public meetings to identify the public’s main concerns. Each CCP is required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and must contain several potential alternatives to habitat and wildlife management on the refuge, identify their possible effects on the refuge. Additionally, NEPA requires FWS planners and refuge staff to engage the public in this planning process to assist them with identifying the most appropriate alternative.
Completed CCPs can be found on the FWS website. Comprehensive wildlife and habitat management demands the integration of scientific information from several disciplines, including understanding ecological processes and monitoring status of fish and plants. Important is an intimate understanding of the social and economic drivers that impact and are affected by management decisions and can facilitate or impede implementation success. Service strategic habitat conservation planning and delivery efforts are affected by the demographic and cultural changes of population growth and urbanization, as well as people’s attitudes and values toward wildlife. Consideration of these factors contributes to the success of the service’s mission to protect wildlife and their habitats; the refuge system works collaboratively internally and externally to leverage resources and achieve effective conservation. It works with other federal agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, nongovernmental organizations, local landowners, community vo
Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge
Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge is a 264-acre National Wildlife Refuge located in northeastern Alabama, near the Sauty Creek embayment of Guntersville Lake. More than 5,000 visitors per year visit the refuge; the facility is unstaffed, but is administered by the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Alabama. The cave itself is closed to the public. In the past, the cave served a variety of uses. Cherokee natives mined the soil to make saltpeter for gunpowder. Saltpeter mining continued on occasion across the War of 1812, the American Civil War. Sauta Cave was one of the largest saltpeter mines operated during the Civil War. Remains of the mining exists in the form of large iron kettles. In 1819, the year Alabama was admitted to the Union, Jackson County, became a county with the county seat at Sauta. Court was held in Sauta Cave. A building near the entrance to the cave was used as a fishing store and night club from 1919 to 1956, with a dance area near one of the entrances to take advantage of the cool wind exiting the cave.
In 1962, a local National Guard unit prepared the cave for use as a fallout shelter. In 1978, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the property to protect the endangered Indiana and gray bats; the site was named the Blowing Wind Cave National Wildlife Refuge. Access to the cave was restricted to scientific research on the bats. In 1999, it was renamed to its current name of Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge; the Sauta Cave NWR protects. In the summer of 1997, more than 200,000 gray bats were counted at the cave. Other species that live in the cave include the Tennessee cave salamander, the Rafinesque's big-eared bat, the cave salamander; the refuge contains the federally endangered Price's potato bean. There are two entrances to the cave on a hillside in a refuge. Although access to the cave is not permitted, limited entry for scientific research is granted; the area offers opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. A top activity is the viewing of the bats emerging from the cave during the summer.
For about an hour at dusk 400,000 bats leave the cave to search for food. A viewing platform has been constructed to facilitate the viewing of the bats. List of National Wildlife Refuges Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge homepage Recreation.gov overview