The greening of Turkey Creek

Just a few minutes from the rumble of Birmingham’s urban streets and rails, you can find the peace of nature – and pieces of nature not found anywhere else.

More than half the size of New York’s Central Park, Pinson’s Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is home to three endangered species of fish, including one found nowhere else in the world. The 466-acre preserve provides a wonderful place to walk, swim, and to learn about the environment.

One goal of the preserve had yet to be fully realized – to be a model of conservation and sustainability. The preserve’s nature center, where students come to learn about conservation and sustainability, was not energy efficient. Inadequate insulation, leaky ducts and outdated heating and cooling equipment made the center stiflingly hot in the summer and freezing in winter – which also made it a less-than-comfortable place for teaching. But thanks to a grant from the Alabama Business Charitable Trust, help from Alabama Power and the sweat equity of student volunteers, the nature center is now ready to live up to the preserve’s mission.

After a building energy audit administered by Alabama Power, the Turkey Creek funds were used to upgrade insulation, seal ductwork and purchase a new heat pump.

Alabama Power employees and Turkey Creek staff also hosted a “work day” and invited summer students from Birmingham-Southern College to learn how they can make simple home improvements and become more energy efficient. Students learned how to caulk windows and door facings and apply weather-stripping where needed. They also talked to energy-efficiency experts from Alabama Power and discussed simple tips that could help them save on monthly power bills.

“Every year, thousands of students come through the preserve and we try to teach them different ways to be energy efficient that are simple and cheap,” said Turkey Creek Manager Charles Yeager. “We want them to take those tips home and share them with their families.”

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