Little River is a special place today, as always, and deserves to be protected, and shared with future generations.
This river is special because it flows atop Lookout Mountain, for almost its whole length in a 200 square mile watershed made of Pottsville Sandstone. This creates a specific chemistry making it and the surrounding land habitat for 19 rare and at least regionally significant endemic species. It has at least 3 federally listed endangered, and 3 federally listed threatened species. Most of these, over 100 rare species depend on this specific habitat and water for their survival.
It is a beautiful area due to the resistance of the sandstone and the river cutting into it. Mostly people come for the scenery, to play, picnic, hike, kayak, or to discover nature.
They spend a lot of money locally, often from $25 -$55 each.
The park counts some 3 to 500,000 visitors each year. They come this time of year for the leaves. Many come for the hunting. Sometimes as many as 450 a day use over 8,000 acres designated for hunting deer, turkey and squirrel. Fishing is allowed, with 47 species of fish, there is abundant bass, crappy, bluegill, catfish, and even an occasional trout to catch from some of Alabama’s prize waters. One of the many smaller fish is threatened, but at the size of a large minnow, the Blue Shiner would not be caught by fishermen. Net and seine fishing are not allowed.
People have lived around the river for an estimated 12-15,000 years leaving archaeological sites representing almost every known culture near the river. The special environment has provided, food, medicine, tools, beauty, habitat and enjoyment for humans as long as people have been here. These sites are protected by law and must not be disturbed.
They are being studied as money and NPS teams become available.
A Trail of Tears roundup route passed through the park and is remembered with a marker at the Little River Falls Parking Lot. We should remember how beautiful and important this place is to people.
I am saddened to think of the hundreds of people rounded up and brought through the park, that they were to see it for their last time as they were moved from the east to Fort Payne. Over 1,100 people were held at the Fort Payne Concentration Camp.
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