Seven Springs EcoScape
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In April 2008, the Southern Environmental Center dedicated the Seven Springs EcoScape on the grounds of Faith Apostolic Church in southwest Birmingham. The EcoScape is designed to protect a spring-fed tributary of Valley Creek. It is home to a tiny Endangered fish, the two-inch-long, red-and blue-finned Watercress Darter. The fish is known to exist only in Roebuck Springs, Pinson, Bessemer, and Seven Springs in the Powderly community. The spring's population of watercress darters was discovered by Samford University biologists Mike Howell and Larry Davenport and led to an agreement in 2005 between the church and the Freshwater Land Trust to ensure the permanent protection of the watercress darter and its habitat. The following year, U.S. fish and Wildlife Service, Samford University's biology department, and the Southern Environmental Center joined the partnership. The EcoScape was completed with the help of a Five Star Restoration Challenge Grant.
SEC Director, Roald Hazelhoff, is currently developing an environmental education program for community residents that highlights the rare fish and its significance in the local ecosystem. The EcoScape will also serve as an outdoor classroom and meditation site. The garden's winding pathways, bounded by limestone boulders, wind through beds planted with native plants and flowers. Faith Apostolic Church hopes to eventually extend the EcoScape along the spring out to 24th Street Southwest. That street extends to the borders of Red Mountain Park, a 1,108-acre tract which is being developed as a new park.