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Turkey Creek in Pinson: A hidden gem that needs help

By Gary Lloyd

PINSON, Ala. – I have written about Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson about as many times as I have driven through the front gates.

Why?

There is always something new to see, something beautiful to take a picture of, a new area to explore.

I have written about festivals and endangered fish, acreage added and amenity improvements, hikes and pocket guides, grants and summer camps. I have quoted the preserve’s manager, Charles Yeager, as calling the preserve’s future a “scary situation” but in the same timeframe I have heard him say “What’s not to love?”

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The future of the preserve is as rocky as its surroundings, as up-and-down as its rapids, and it should not be.

Admission to the preserve is free, but maintaining it is not. What the preserve must account for is security, maintenance, educational programs, and visitor amenities.

“Unfortunately however, we are now down to only 8 remaining months of funding and need your help to ensure that our operation does not end and we are able to continue to provide you the same amazing services,” says a statement on the preserve’s website, which does not indicate when this post was made.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is attempting to secure three years of funding for the operation of the preserve, which means $100,000 to meet its $500,000 goal.

“With this campaign, our goal is to not only to overcome the challenge we face, but to also reduce the possibility of having to ever face it again,” the website states.

On Friday, on my way to covering Homewood at Gardendale in the Class 6A football playoffs, I diverted from my path to drive through the 466-acre preserve, a place I had not checked out in quite some time. There was no one there, probably because it was 3:30 p.m. on a Friday. I walked around and took pictures, and at close to 3:40 p.m., Yeager drove up and called out to me. I was down on the banks of the creek, so he did not recognize me, but he said, “Hey buddy, closing the gate in twenty minutes.”

“I’ll be out of here before then,” I called back.

Today, we are too hung up on new stores, restaurants, and technology. We like our comfort zone. We prefer dozens of angles watching college football as opposed to cheering from the cheap seats. I am guilty of it. You are, too. And that is sad.

Because when Yeager basically said that if I did not get a move on soon, I’d be locked inside the preserve, I thought to myself, “Would that really be the worst thing?”

Gary Lloyd is the author of five books: "Trussville, Alabama: A Brief History," "Deep Green," "Heart of the Plate," "Valley Road: Uplifting Stories from Down South," and "Ray of Hope." He has been a reporter and editor at newspapers and magazines in Mississippi and Alabama. He grew up in Trussville, Alabama, and graduated from Hewitt-Trussville High School in 2006. He earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Alabama in 2009. He lives in Moody, Alabama, with his wife, Jessica, and their two dogs, Abby and Sonny.

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