There are approximately 3.6 million miles of streams in the United States; 1.1 million are at least five miles in length. Only 12,734 miles are protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

Alabama has approximately 77,242 miles of river, of which 61.4 miles of one river are designated as wild & scenic—less than 1/10th of 1% of the state’s river miles.

The Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River was designated Wild & Scenic in the Fall of 1988. This year we celebrate 50 years of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and 30 years of protection of the Sipsey Fork.

But why protect it? The Sipsey is home to many threatened and endangered species including the flattened musk turtle and the now critically endangered Black Warrior waterdog. Every year, thousands of people come to the Sipsey to fish, hike, kayak and hunt. The Sipsey feeds Smith Lake which is a source of drinking water for many people. We also protect the Sipsey for its natural and intrinsic worth.

We want to hear your Sipsey Fork story! Stories punctuate our experiences in words. Stories remind us why we need a place to be protected and conserved.

Email your Sipsey Fork (some say river) story to or leave your story in the comments on our Facebook page. We will be sharing these stories all year through our network and beyond.

And here are your stories…

The Sipsey River is a part of me. The Black Warrior Mountains have a special place in my heart. It probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for people like Jim and Ruth Manasco, Butch Walker, Mary Burks, Blanche Dean, and countless other veterans who helped save the Sipsey. My family settled and farmed the land that’s now part of the Sipsey Wilderness area and I get chills every time I step a foot in the soil thinking about what the place use to be…a thriving community full of people just trying to live free, keep to theirselves, and raise families. I grew up riding the horse trails in the forest. My grandparents taught me a lot about the area and as I’ve gotten older I’ve only learned more and my love for the river has grown. I canoed Thompson creek last year and it was my favorite adventure of the year minus all the log jams. The Sipsey fork is some of the cleanest water in Alabama and there’s just something so magical about the land that encompasses the river. I can’t wait to raise my own family on the river and teach them everything I know so that my love and respect for the place continues on. Spending so much time in the wilderness really helped my mental and physical health and I will always be grateful for how much Sipsey changed my life. ~Kendall Elam, Backwoods Folk Art