What We Do

The Cahaba River provides important habitat for a diverse collection of plants and animals and is sought out by canoeists, fishermen and others for its scenic quality. The Cahaba River supplies a large portion of Birmingham’s drinking water supply, and also receives domestic and industrial wastewaters. Water quality degradation and the physical alteration of the river environment represent significant challenges for the survival of aquatic biota. The refuge monitors water quality in association with the Piper Coal Mine Reclamation activity in order ensure maintenance of plant and animal populations as well as establishing areas for future recovery.

The refuge has areas of planted loblolly pine, planted longleaf pine and more mature longleaf pine. Longleaf pine forests are fire-dependent communities that evolve into hardwood communities without fire. Since most refuge land has been altered, planned fires called prescribed fires or controlled burns are ignited by refuge fire staff to mimic natural fires. Prescribed burns reduce the potential damage and danger of a wildfire and also benefit native plants and the longleaf pine communities. Any time you visit the refuge, remember that the fire staff could be burning near where you are visiting. Signs will be posted to notify you of the prescribed fire operation in progress.

Law Enforcement

Protecting resources and people on our refuges is the fundamental responsibility of refuge officers. The mission of the Refuge Law Enforcement Program is to support the administration of the National Wildlife Refuge System through the management and protection of natural, historic and cultural resources, property, and people on lands and waters of our national wildlife refuges.