The Birmingham Metropolitan area is home to three federally listed species of percids: Watercress Darter (Etheostoma nuchale), Vermilion Darter (Etheostoma chermocki), and the Rush Darter (Etheostoma phytophilum). Because these species are geographically restricted to an area that has long been subjected to development pressures and industrial perturbations, partnership-driven protection and enhancement of their fragmented habitats has been and will continue to be invaluable to their overall persistence and recovery. This urban environment that requires innovative approaches to resource management also offers opportunities to involve the community in conservation efforts, build partnerships with diverse organizations, and engage students from limited resource communities that have little exposure to careers in the natural resource field.

Watercress Darter (Etheostoma nuchale)

The effectiveness of this community-involved approach to species conservation is well represented by the work that has been done at Seven Springs in south Birmingham. Seven Springs, one of five known locations inhabited by the Watercress Darter, is located on property owned by Faith Apostolic Church in a historically underserved community. The bishop of the church at the time the population was discovered was thrilled to have something so unique associated with their church. A partnership was established that included the church, surrounding community, USFWS (Ecological Services, Partners for Fish & Wildlife, and National Wildlife Refuge System), Freshwater Land Trust, Birmingham-Southern College, and others. This coalition planned and implemented a habitat improvement project, created an ecoscape that included a darter mural, and provided opportunities for education and scientific research. In its current state, the darter population is thriving, members of the church congregation have a garden to enjoy by the spring, and ecological research has been conducted by undergraduate students that has helped inform adaptive management strategies for the resource.

Project Objectives

BEHI surveys training
  1. Enhance and preserve habitat for trust species in the Birmingham Metropolitan area through partnership-driven community engagement.
  2. Expose diverse communities to principles of conservation, ecological restoration methodologies, and ecological services career opportunities.
  3. Provide training opportunities for habitat assessment methodologies to a broad coalition of conservation specialists to better recognize and implement meaningful restoration and recovery opportunities for at-risk species.

News, Stories and Events

Urban Darter Training at Turkey Creek

by Rachel McGuire | Nov 12, 2021 |

Several Auburn University Water Resources Center (AUWRC) team members attended an Urban Darter Training in the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in October 2021. The training was hosted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Geological Survey of Alabama, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Forestry AssociationCawaco RC&DFreshwater Land Trust, and the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

Endangered Species Virtual Tour

By Freshwater Land Trust Staff | December 22, 2021 |

On December 8th, Freshwater Land Trust hosted a virtual Endangered Species “Tour” with expert speakers presenting on a variety of topics, especially focused on endangered and threatened species in Alabama.

Contact Information


Urban Darter Program flyer.pdf

Urban Darter Training flyer