The upper reaches of Hurricane Creek are located in East Tuscaloosa County. It flows south and west from the town of Vance to the Black Warrior River at Holt. During it’s meandering path it passes through several areas of old abandoned strip mines as well as some current mines. This is where the trouble started for Hurricane Creek. For many miles it travels through places where the surrounding land was scraped clear of all topsoil and nutrients considered healthy for the creek. This soil has been left bare and eroding for decades, leaching all sorts of heavy metals into the stream piggybacked within acid water. We have found tributaries with a pH reading of as low as 2.9 (lemon juice). It is in one of these streams that we have been able to enlist the help of a group of environmentalists, industrialists, as well as enforcement agencies to begin reclamation and recovery of one of these sites.
Weldon Creek is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more sites as bad or worse than Weldon Creek left to be addressed before we can stop our work.
We do, however, have a number of clean-running tributaries that contribute enough clean recharge water to keep the stream alive and in recovery. We are beginning to see more of the native grasses along the bottom of the creek where there used to be only mud and sand. Some of the large gravel (point) bars are moving downstream and are gradually making their way to the Warrior River where it becomes a huge problem for towboat navigation in the lower reaches of the river. If we can keep the bulk of errodible material out of the creek and get our permit agencies under control, Hurricane Creek has a chance to be a viable, healthy asset to the continuing economic growth of Tuscaloosa County. A healthy recreation and research area this close to a major university would be a valuable calling card in the future.
Click HERE to see the state of streams within the Hurricane Creek Watershed.