(TUSCALOOSA, AL)-- Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen has been at the forefront of the transformation of the Tuscaloosa watershed from “a stream that was on the brink of destruction to a stream in dramatic recovery.”
Wathen was one of the founding members of the Friends of Hurricane Creek, a licensed waterkeeper program. Things looked dire when they started in 2003.
“We lost a lot of the species that were native here,” Wathen said. “We went from a creek that was considered by some scientists as biologically dead.”
Despite the unfortunate prognosis, the group knew the creek’s future wasn’t yet decided. Thanks to years of volunteers helping clean the creek, as well as spread the word about it, full recovery is on the horizon.
“The water is cleaner now than it has been and our diversity is increasing every year,” Wathen said. “We’ve seen this creek go from near destruction to a thriving ecosystem again.”
Wathen has not only a long-running connection to the creek, but also a deep one.
“Hurricane Creek has always been sort of a mystical place,” he said. “I don’t go to the brick buildings on Sunday; I come out here every day. This is my church.”
Empowering moments for Wathen come when he can see a variety of species thriving once again in the creek.
“The diversity in Hurricane Creek is one of the most intense in the world, really. The mixture of plants in here is something you don’t see in other watersheds,” Wathen said. “Seeing this creek come from a pollution waste conduit to the biodiverse treasure that it is today, that’s been one of the greatest achievements of my life but it’s also been one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed.”
You can learn more about the Friends of Hurricane Creek by clicking here. http://www.hurricanecreek.org/home