What better way to spend Earth Day than exploring the beautiful Mobile-Tensaw River Delta with enthusiastic lovers of the outdoors? On April 22nd, thirteen members of the Delta Roundtable traveled by bus into the northern region of the Delta, visiting multiple sites throughout Monroe County. The trip was hosted by Coastal Alabama Partnership and the Delta Working Group and offered a full day of history, culture, and nature. Bill Finch guided the group throughout the day, with the help of anecdotal stories and historical accounts from Linda Vice and Claudia Campbell.
The trip began bright and early at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center where the group loaded the bus and headed north. Along the way, Mr. Finch highlighted the historical and environmental treasures of the area. Mr. Finch stated that the most diversity of the Delta is found along its edges and “if you do not protect these edges, we have lost the Delta.” He noted that our Delta is unique in many ways, including the fact that it is trapped between two bluffs and contains roughly 350 species of fresh water fish (more than any other state in the nation). Mr. Finch also talked about the shell mounds found throughout the Delta which indicate how extensively people lived in the area.
The first two stops on the trip were are Purdue Hill and Haines Island. Purdue Hill is the current home of multiple structures originally built in Claiborne, a ghost town near the Alabama River in Monroe County. These structures include a masonic hall which is the oldest building in Monroe County. The group ventured on to Haines Island and explored the park and Nancy’s Mountain Trail. While walking the trail, Mr. Finch pointed out the Big Leaf Magnolia, which has the longest leaf of any tree in the country, and the habitat of the rare Red Hills Salamander. The group nearly stumbled into a cane break rattler and learned that nearly one sixth of Alabama was once covered in cane break. The roundtable continued northward and made its final stop in Monroeville, the birthplace of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. The group enjoyed local cuisine from Cherry Street BBQ and toured the historic courthouse, depicted heavily in Ms. Lee’s famous novel.
The trip concluded with a viewing of America’s Amazon on the bus ride home. The film highlights the diversity of the Delta’s ecosystem and the threats to its well-being. The Delta consists of 77,000 miles of rivers and creeks and is considered the fertile crescent of the Gulf because of its productive nature. It contains the largest number of turtle species in the world and nine different species of pitcher plants. These are just a few facts that help tell the story of how unique and vital the Delta is to our region.
Thank you to everyone who attended the trip and to our informative and entertaining tour guides. We look forward to continuing to facilitate the conversation surrounding the care and potential of our Delta.