BIRMINGHAM (Sept. 26, 2023) — The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Alabama announced today that it has closed on the formal acquisition of a 596-acre tract at Wheeler Mountain in Bibb County, future-proofing the land area from potential threats of conversion to non-forestry uses including development. This acquisition is the result of a long-standing partnership with Resource Management Service, LLC (RMS) and a three-month campaign through TNC’s Ireland Opportunity Fund that raised the $2 million necessary to make the land purchase.
“Our revolving loan fund enables us to quickly mobilize resources to protect vulnerable lands such as this, and we are grateful to those who supported this endeavor,” said TNC in Alabama State Director Mitch Reid. “We will now work to manage and restore this tract’s natural habitat and ensure its assets are protected for generations to come.”
TNC in Alabama is currently working alongside the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to add the property to the National Forest System while it reintroduces prescribed fire management practices that will ultimately enhance the land’s rich ecosystem — specifically its 80-to-100-year-old montane longleaf pine forests.
“Much of Alabama’s natural longleaf pine forests have disappeared over the years, and we did not want to risk this same fate for Wheeler Mountain. Thankfully, we were successful in working with RMS to successfully close this acquisition and protect the rich biological diversity of this area in perpetuity,” added Reid. “RMS’ stewardship of this property since acquisition in 2006 maintained the conservation values inherent to this acquisition.”
In addition to the land’s rich longleaf pine habitat, this tract also includes Gully Creek — a tributary of the Cahaba River — which has long been a conservation target as not only one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the South, but also one of biodiverse aquatic wealth.
“The Wheeler Mountain property is one of the most diverse natural longleaf pine stands in Alabama. From its hardwood bottom with rich flora diversity and aquatic diversity in Gulch Creek to the top with its natural stone arch formation, Wheeler Mountain is a true natural gem. Our partnership with The Alabama Chapter of the Nature Conservancy enabled a win for conservation and a win for the landowner,” said Jimmy Bullock, Senior Vice president Forest Sustainability for RMS.