During a 2018 bio-blitz at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, a new record for the federally listed (endangered) Rush Darter (Etheostoma phytophilum) was documented. This new record was found in an unnamed tributary (a spring run) to Turkey Creek and was just downstream of two concrete pipe culverts. The concrete pipe culverts are at the crossing of the unnamed tributary and Turkey Creek Road.
The existing culverts were undersized, had altered the hydrologic flow regime of the unnamed tributary, and created a barrier to fish passage. Fish passage concerns are that the Rush Darter cannot pass during periods of high flow due to the altered hydrologic flow conditions. These periods of high flow often coincide with reproductive cues and biological responses for the species to migrate upstream to potential spawning habitat. The habitat upstream of the culverts could serve as a possible spawning habitat for the darter Since the Rush Darter is only known to occur in a few isolated populations within Alabama, the removal of this obstruction presented a rare opportunity to improve and expand habitat for this endangered species.
The project was a cooperative effort, spearheaded by the Freshwater Land Trust and supported by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Rast Construction and Cawaco RC&D.