Perry Lakes Ecology History of Perry Lakes Park
 
The Perry Lakes Park and Wildlife Sanctuary contains about 600 acres available to the public for outdoor recreation, education, scientific research, and other activities. Interpretive nature trails (fire lanes and primitive paths) make walking through the woods fairly easy and fun. Pam Dorr and Russell Persson biking through Overcup Oak Bottom
   
There are four oxbow lakes making up a wild hardwood bottomland flood plain swamp environment. The lakes are surrounded by an old growth mixed hardwood bottomland forest that provides some of the best nature studies and birding in the State.
 
John Swan, President of the Birmingham Audubon Society
John Swan, President of the Birmingham Audubon Society, led members on a birding tour of Perry Lakes Park. The group saw a Bald Eagle, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and other interesting birds.
   
Dr. John Hall, Curator of the Black Belt Museum at West Alabama University, routinely brings students to the Park to learn natural history. John introduces a cooter turtle to his students.
Dr. John Hall and students
   
Dr. Hall and students
Dr. Hall and students learn trees
   
 
Fishing in the four oxbow lakes is best done from small aluminum boats or canoes. A concrete boat ramp has been build by the Department of Conservation to facilitate launching small boats on trailers. A picnic area with a pavilion is located beside the oxbow named Perry Lake.
Perry Lake oxbow
 
Birding on Perry Lake
The Perry Lakes Park incorporates four oxbow lakes which were formed when the Cahaba River changed its channel almost 150 years ago. The original (1935) concrete picnic tables and benches along with cooking pits made from river rock still exist in the old park area.
  Numerous tupelo trees, Nyssa aquatica, biflora, & sylvatiica, occur among the Spanish Moss draped Ballcypress producing a somewhat eerie swamp environment and creating interesting and rewarding canoeing adventures.
 
Thomas Wilson tacks an identification label on a large Slippery Elm
Earth Team members Kayla Jones and Rachael Webster place an ID label on a Park tree
Dr. Thomas Wilson, Judson College biologist, leads an NRC&D Earth Team in establishing nature trails and in identifing ecologically significant areas in the Park.

The Perry County Commission, governing body for the Perry Lakes Park, engaged Auburn University's Rural Studio Program faculty and students to design a pavilion and restroom facilities for the Park. Different groups of fifth-year architecture students have built a pavilion, a set of restrooms, a covered bridge, and will complete a 100 ft. tall canopy birding tower in late 2005.
Pavilion in Park picnic area
   
Thomas Wilson and Judson College botany students
Judson Earth Team members pick up litter at Park
   
 

Grant Gordy, Marshall Colburn, Maurice Johnson and Larry Hardy of the Perry County USDA NRCS built an observation deck in Tupelo Bottom. It will be entertaining to sit on the deck and watch nature come-and-go in this unique bottomland habitat.
   
NRCS crew along with Forester Hudson at Tupelo Bottom
Doris Wilson and sisters Ila Westerman, Greers Ferry, Ark. and Verna Piper of Salem, Il. enjoy an evening on the deck
   
Thomas Wilson and Marshall Colburn put up all of the trail signs in the Park. Cottonmouth Creek is a manmade drainage canal from the Marion Fish Hatchery to Perry Lake. One can often see fish that have escaped from the hatchery swimming down the creek.
Thomas Wilson and Marshall Colburn put up the trail signs in the Park
   
Giant oak in the Park being measured by Perry Forester, Cedrick Hudson
Many tree species have been identified for nomination to the State Champion Tree Program from the Park. Perry County Forester, Cedrick Hudson, appears tiny next to this potential champion oak located on Basswood Trail.
Click on the tree image for a larger view. Then, click on button at bottom of image.
   
   
Perry Lakes Park is a wonderful place to visit. However, it is a wild, natural river bottomland. Some of the trails (red fire lanes) are easy walking and fairly open for observing creatures on the ground. The primitive trials (blue) take you into the wilds of the Park. You will step over big logs, walk through some high grasses and it can get muddy during rainy periods.You will see snakes and there are alligators in the sloughs and oxbow lakes.
 
   
Warning sign on Perry Lake erected in 1957.
The oxbow lakes of the Park are somewhat silted, especially Perry Lake. However, visitors are urged to be careful and follow safety rules for hiking and boating. Swimming is not allowed in the Park. A pamphlets for Rules and Regulaltions and a Trail Map and Guide are available at the parking area of the Park.
   
Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina along with four tornados put about 100 big trees down in the Park. The park was damaged but hard work by the Perry County Engineers department, Rural Studios workers, and by community volunteers has done much to restore the beauty and public access of the resource.
   
James Huey, Lee Mims, and Luke clear logs over the trail
Luke, James, and Lee cut hurricane logs from trail
   

January - 2006
Marion volunteers have worked hard over the past year to remove big trees fell by hurricanes. We are doing the work by hand and truck to keep damage to the forest understory to a minimum.

Thomas Wilson's 4-wheel drive truck with pulling hooks on the front anf back frames has done a great job in clearing logs from trails.
4-wheel drive pulls logs from trail
   
Perry County worker clearing trees from the trail
Perry County worker clearing hurricane Ivan trees from the trails
   
Perry County worker clearing hurricane Ivan debris
County worker, Frank Collins, repairing water line to the Park
   
 A system of interpretive trails with a coordinated map and guide is available on this site and from a box at the Park. Auburn's Rural Studio faculty and students are interested in continuing and expanding their involvement and work in developing the Park. A systematic survey of the flora and fauna of the two natural areas will occupy many scientists for numerous years.
 
Home   |   Perry Lakes Park   |   Barton's Beach Preserve   |   
 
For more information, contact:
Dr. Thomas Wilson

wils5789@bellsouth.net