Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge

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canoeing.jpgThe Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge is home to five federally listed threatened or endangered species including the Cahaba shiner, goldline darter, round rocksnail, and cylindrical lioplax snail. This area has been recognized as the most biologically diverse section of land in Alabama and has been credited with supporting the most significantly diverse plant species in the southeastern United States. You won't see plants and animals like this anywhere else in the area.


The Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge was established September 25, 2002, for the purpose of protecting and managing a unique section of the Cahaba River and land adjacent to it. The refuge is open to the public for recreational activities such as wildlife observation, fishing, hiking, photography, and canoeing. Hunting is allowed with a permit from the Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area. The refuge currently contains about 3,500 acres and 3.5 miles of river. Visit http://www.fws.gov/cahabariver to learn more about the refuge.  

One of the largest populations of rocky shoal spider lilies in the world is also protected in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. These lilies were once seen across the Southeast. But they have disappeared as rivers have been dammed and disrupted. Less than 200 acres of rocky shoals lilies remain in the world. The Cahaba River and refuge now contain one of the two largest populations. Each May, during the Cahaba Lily Festival, visitors can learn about the lily shoals and see them by walking or canoeing among the flowering plants. For information on the annual Cahaba Lily Festival in West Blocton, visit www.cahabalily.com/CahabaLilyFestival.htm

The area in and around the refuge is rich in natural resources. The rolling uplands surrounding the river are forested with longleaf and loblolly pines. Many of the original longleaf pines were harvested and replaced with commercial loblolly pine. Large coal reserves and their proximity to iron ore led to a great deal of mining from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. The coal mined from this area helped to fuel the iron furnaces during the Civil War. Mining affected the landscape significantly, and you can still see some of the damage it caused in this area. 

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The Cahaba River

The Little Cahaba River

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