B.A.S.S. gets its hands dirty

Helen Northcutt
Bassmaster Magazine Assistant Editor Jennifer Dome digs in to get the privet out from the roots.

PINSON, Ala. — The Freshwater Land Trust teamed up with B.A.S.S. employees Wednesday for a volunteer workday to restore critical habitat for the endangered vermilion darter and watercress darter. The volunteers worked at Tapawingo Springs Preserve in Pinson to remove invasive species and replant native shrubs along the wetland area. See photos here.

According to Wendy Jackson, executive director of Freshwater Land Trust, “Today is a remarkable day for conservation. Anglers are some of the best conservationists, and we are so proud of the B.A.S.S. workday. The spring run is home to three species of endangered darters, two of which are found only in Jefferson County. The spawning site for the vermilion darter is only a few hundred yards downstream of where we were working today. This workday with B.A.S.S. allows us to restore a native forested buffer that is critical to protecting the darters’ habitat.”

Both the watercress and vermilion darters are endemic to Jefferson County, Ala. The vermilion darter’s habitat is limited to only a six-mile segment of Turkey Creek.

“This is an important workday for B.A.S.S. employees,” said Noreen Clough, conservation director at B.A.S.S. “It’s a chance to get outdoors and practice what we preach — that clean water and healthy habitats are good not only for the fish but for the soul. Getting our hands dirty and feet wet are all part of understanding how ecosystems work and how something as small and lovely as a darter can inspire us.”

Recognizing the importance of Tapawingo Springs to the darters, the FWLT has worked to acquire and formally protect the properties encompassing the springs and to restore areas previously impacted by development.

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