Volunteers spruce up Alabaster’s Limestone Park

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteer installs a protective cage around a newly planted tree during a recent workday at Alabaster's Limestone Park. (Contributed)

A Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteer installs a protective cage around a newly planted tree during a recent workday at Alabaster’s Limestone Park. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Visitors to one of Alabaster’s most nature-friendly locations soon may see a few new species roaming around, as a group of local volunteers recently spent the day making several additions to the park.

About 10 volunteers from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, who were hosted by the Birmingham Audubon Society, spent the day at Alabaster’s Limestone Park off U.S. 31 on Sept. 13 as they worked to make the park more friendly to wildlife.

“It was a good work day,” said Audubon Society Program Director Andy Coleman. “Wildlife habitats, particularly in urban environments, are on the decline. Any opportunity you have to enhance those habitats, it’s a great opportunity.”

The majority of the volunteers were students in the Botanical Gardens’ certificate in native plant studies program, and used the volunteer hours to meet requirements for the program.

While there, the volunteers planted trees and plants native to the Birmingham area in the prairie area of the park, including tag alder, catalpa and post oak trees and silkgrass plants, Coleman said. The volunteers also constructed cages around the new trees to prevent beaver damage.

The seeds planted at Limestone Park were collected from the Birmingham area by the Botanical Gardens’ Centennial Tree Project, and were the first plantings of the season for the project.

Coleman said the volunteers also spent time combating a common Alabama nuisance: Fire ants.

“There had been some issues with fire ants out there, so we spread some fire ant control,” he said. “Fire ants can definitely have an impact on ground-nesting birds like killdeer, which have been documented at Limestone.”

Limestone Park is a popular destination for nature aficionados, particularly bird-watchers. In 2012, the Audubon Society teamed up with the city of Alabaster to construct an elevated bird-watching platform to allow visitors to get closer to the park’s wetlands.

“That park has such a high amount of biodiversity, there are a wide variety of different habitats there,” Coleman said. “We have a great partnership with the city of Alabaster, and none of this would be possible without that. I hope Alabaster views it as a jewel in the city.”

For those interested in getting involved with Birmingham Audubon Society at Limestone Park, email Coleman at andycoleman@birminghamaudubon.org.