Photo by Grant Posey

Photo by Grant Posey

To celebrate the successful completion of Wild South’s Canyon Mapping Program, Wild South staff and guest experts in the fields of archaeology (Dr. Bruce Bizzocco) and geology (Dr. Jim Lacefield) led educational hikes in January and February 2013 to some of the canyons in the Bankhead National Forest that, because of documentation by Mark Kolinski and our volunteer canyon mapping team, will receive designation for an elevated level of protection by the USFS.  Our goal is to provide national forest visitors with an outdoor experience that will introduce them to unique sandstone canyon ecosystems and cultural history outside the more well-known recreation areas of the Bankhead National Forest.

Saturday, May 4, is the date of our final Canyon Celebration hike.   We are very pleased to announce that aquatic ecologist Paul Freeman will be our guest expert of the day.  Along with Wild South staff, Paul will lead our group into some of the most biologically significant streams of the Bankhead and guide us in the exploration of the richly diverse aquatic eco-systems in the Bankhead National Forest.

To sign up, click HERE  or call 256-974-6166.  Group sizes are limited and advance sign-up is required.  Ages 10 and over are welcome.

Paul Freeman

Paul Leiper Freeman, Aquatic Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy

Paul works for the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a    freshwater ecologist providing support for TNC’s conservation programs and activities.   His interests center on protecting the rich diversity of life in Alabama streams and across the Southeast including the fish, mussels, snails, crayfish, reptiles and amphibians.  Paul has a Bachelor’s in Biology from Appalachian State University and a Masters of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Paul and his wife Virginia have a 8 year old son and they have called Irondale home for the past 11 years.

Paul stated at a young age that he wanted to be a Marine Biologist, but growing up in Tennessee he found himself drawn to the rivers rather than the ocean. When time and water levels allow it, Paul enjoys exploring natural flowing streams with a canoe.



Aquatic Biology Hike with Paul Freeman      Saturday, May 4       9:00 a.m.   Warrior Mountains Trading Company, Moulton, Alabama

Before departing for the Bankhead,  Wild South’s Alabama Programs Manager Mark Kolinski will give a brief presentation about the significance of the areas to be visited and about the Canyon Mapping Program.  Then Paul will take the floor for a  presentation on the aquatic ecology of our area.

The outdoor part of the day will be conducted at 2 or 3 different sites.  Participants may count on walking 2.5 or 3 miles and are asked to remember that canyons were not created for the convenience of humans and can be inherently challenging to get around in.  For our canyon hikes series, we strive to choose sites that are the least challenging to hike and that are the shortest walk in, but that in itself is a challenge since the nature of a canyon requires us to climb down to get  in and up to get out!  There are no trails in the canyons that we surveyed and terrain is rough and sloped.  Thus, we rate this a “moderately challenging” hike.

Be prepared for weather; shallow, narrow stream crossings; slippery, wet forest floor.  Foot wear must be sturdy with reliable traction for slick rocks, slopes and wetness.  The hike out will be an uphill climb, mostly gradual.

Bring a backpack lunch, snacks and drinking water.  Other handy items:  a notebook and pen, camera, walking stick.

Meet at the Warrior Mountains Trading Company at 11312 AL Hwy. 33, Moulton, AL.  Park on the south end of the building, come into the store and make your way to the Wild South picnic table.  We will gather there at 9:00 a.m. for Mark’s and Paul’s presentations.

There is no charge for this event, but donations are gratefully accepted and will support our work to protect our forests on public lands.

Wild South’s  Canyon Celebration Hikes are funded by a grant from The National Environmental Education Foundation.



  1. James Barclay on April 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Please count on me and a friend.
    Thank You
    James Barclay
    Columbus, ms