On Wednesday during a field trip there, the high-school students and teachers at Trinity Christian Academy walked along a new boardwalk and viewed the same lovely falls. The area is now a national preserve and tax dollars have made the area safer. It is money well spent.
Jacksonville State University’s Field Schools, which hosted our tour, is headed by Pete Conroy. He and his staff, which includes our guide for the field trip, Renee Morrison, helped create a meaningful experience for us, too, as we visited the new Little River Canyon Center. Thousands of students visit the center each year and also take part in classes at Cheaha State Park, Talladega National Forest, JSU Planetarium and DeSoto State Park.
Several other entities are involved in the projects overseen by the field school, including Alabama State Parks, the National Park Service, the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The center is where we actually began our trip at 9 a.m. First, we watched a compelling movie about the area, and we heard a short lecture on environmentally related careers available to students. Also, we walked throughout the center, which was built using many of the green technologies available today. Many of the features, including the attractive stone walls both inside and outside the building were made of recycled ash. The boards on the back deck were made of recycled plastic bottles, and the building is heated and cooled by a natural, geothermal system.
After visiting the center and the falls, we drove nearby to the visitors’ center at DeSoto State Park, and, from there, hiked along a trail that featured caves, giant rocks, Indian Falls, and Little River. Morrison led the students up, down, and around leaf-strewn paths, many with rocks that formed natural steps. Then, the students scrambled along giant stones in Little River, as the water was low. Of course, more than one student accidentally stepped in water, which meant they had cold feet during the remainder of the trip.
Morrison told us many impressive facts, and I hope some of the following pique your interest and motivate you to go there. It would be a shame to live this close to such treasures and not see them.
Here are facts that, if I ever knew, I had forgotten: • Little River flows 100 miles atop a flat mountain – a rare geological phenomenon. • The water flows over, through, and around sandstone, which makes is clear and pure. • The activities available in the region are varied – rock-climbing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, bird-watching and simply gazing at the trees. • There are several hotels and cabins in the area, and DeSoto State Park boasts a mountain resort. • Thanks to archeological digs by JSU students, several areas have yielded historical artifacts. • A new center similar to Little River Canyon Center is open in Heflin, and I’ll plan to visit it soon and share more information.
Some people may want to do more than simply visit the Little River Canyon. They may want to volunteer or donate money toward the field-school programs. Both are needed. What better way to spend our time and money than to increase our awareness and enjoyment of nature? Call 256-782-5697 or 256-845-3548 for more information.
Visit www.nps.gov, email@example.com, and www.jsu.edu/epic.