Welcome to Watercress Darter NWR
The endangered watercress darter is found in only a handful of springs in central Alabama. Credit: USFWS
Watercress Darter NWR, near Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama, was established by the Service in 1980 to provide protection for the endangered watercress darter. Although the Refuge is only about 24 acres of ponds, mixed pine-hardwood forest, and a residence, and contains Thomas Spring. A second pond was constructed on the Refuge in 1983 to provide additional darter habitat. The Refuge is unstaffed and administered by Mountain Longleaf NWR.
The watercress darter is a small, very colorful fish measuring up to 2.5 inches in length. The fish is currently found in only five sites in the upper Black Warrior River drainage near Birmingham, Alabama. They are found only at mid-depths in dense accumulations of aquatic vegetation including watercress, in springs and spring runs. Green sunfish, bluegills, and sculpins are known to prey on watercress darters. The darters feed on snails, crustaceans, and insect larvae that inhabit springs and spring runs.
Getting There . . .
Watercress Darter NWR is located in Bessemer, Alabama. From Interstate 459 take the Eastern Valley Road Exit (Exit 1). Take Eastern Valley Road north for approximately 6 miles. Parking is available on the left (west) side of the road immediately after the West Jefferson County Historical Society's MacAdory House and before the stop light.