Troy University arboretum added to Alabama Birding Trails

The arboretum joins over 280 sites and is only the second location in Pike County to make the list.

The arboretum joins over 280 sites and is only the second location in Pike County to make the list.

Troy University’s arboretum is home to 75 acres, over eight miles of walking trails and a Champion Tree, and now it’s officially listed as a designated stop on the Alabama Birding Trails.

The Alabama Birding Trails highlight the best public locations for watching birds year-round in Alabama across eight geographic regions and over 280 stops— North Alabama, West Alabama, Appalachian Highlands, Piedmont Plateau, Black Belt Nature and Heritage, Pineywoods, Wiregrass and Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. The arboretum stop is included in the Wiregrass region and is only the second site in Pike County to make the list.

Arboretum Director Dr. Alvin Diamond said it’s taken nearly a year to achieve this goal. Over the last year, faculty, staff, students and community volunteers have worked to clear over eight miles of trails, plant hundreds of native plants, remove invasive species and trash and develop interactive educational signs and maps. Grants have funded the establishment of an outdoor classroom area, seating, trash cans, signs, the purchase of plants, a new bridge and a bridge and floating dock at the pond.

“This has been part of our on-going project to restore the arboretum. All of the other projects we have been working on have helped make the arboretum eligible for this designation,” he said. “Restoring the Arboretum has taken an eyesore and made it a destination for campus visitors and a place where TROY students, local schools and individuals can come to learn or just relax.”

A TROY student helps a young girl plant flower seeds during the 2023 Earth Day festival.
The arboretum regularly hosts educational events, like last year’s Earth Day celebration.

The projects not only highlight good birding sites, but also tie into the University’s education and research mission, he added.

“We have students in various classes that use the arboretum for part of their class—not just biology, we have had art and history classes out there, too—and as a site to conduct research,” he said. “Local school and scout groups have taken field trips to visit the arboretum, and even community groups like the Master Gardeners. We also facilitate meetings for professional groups at our building, which not only increases TROY’s profile, but allows our students to gain valuable opportunities to interact with professionals in fields they intend to pursue such as forestry and wildlife conservation.” 

The Alabama Birding Trails is promoted worldwide through the Alabama Department of Tourism (ADT) and is a collaborative project of the ADT, the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Audubon, Chambers of Commerce from across the state and many others. 

“The promotion of the birding trail sites by the Alabama Tourism Department will likely bring hundreds of visitors to our campus each year,” Diamond said. “Being designated an official birding trail stop will increase the awareness of people worldwide to many of the other exciting things occurring on TROY’s campus and in the surrounding community. We are excited about this prestigious designation for the arboretum and Troy University.”