Morrow’s Cypress Cove Farm added to birding trail list
RED BAY – State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow said his love for the environment has spanned several decades, so he couldn’t be more excited about the recent announcement that Cypress Cove Farm was recently added to the North Alabama Birding Trail’s Northwest Loop as Site #51.
Morrow and his wife, Dr. Martha Morrow, welcomed a large crowd to Cypress Cove Farm, which they own and operate, for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday morning in honor of the designation.
Morrow told the crowd the event was a special day for him because it was the culmination of many years of hard work to see a dream of his become a reality.
“I want many people to come enjoy these trails and this area, and with this designation on the North Alabama Birding Trail, I believe we will see more and more people visiting our county,” Morrow said.
“Even if you’re not a bird watcher, this site is still for you because there is so much to do and see.”
Tami Reist, president of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, praised the Morrows for their commitment to bring tourism into North Alabama and to preserve the natural wildlife on their property.
“This is a great example of how tourism, preservation and natural resources can go hand in hand,” Reist said.
“The Morrows have accomplished a great thing for this state, this area and this community.”
Morrow said he received the initial 46 acres of what became known as Cypress Cove Farm from his parents and he then began buying properties surrounding it in 2001 to create the spread it is today.
Cypress Cove Farm features several miles of trails that Morrow has worked on himself that take visitors through some of the prettiest areas of the property.
“This is some of the most beautiful land you could imagine,” he said. “In addition to the abundance of wildlife, there are also three creeks – Bear Creek, Brush Creek and Mud Creek – that run through the property.
“Brush Creek is one of the most pristine streams in the county, and all of this combines to make a wonderful place to not only observe the bird population but other parts of the environment as well.”
Morrow said the Alabama Forestry Commission has identified 15 species of trees on the property, which have been marked to give visitors information about each species.
“The city of Red Bay was actually named for the bay tree, and we actually have a bay tree here that is original to the property,” Morrow said.
“We also have a bald cypress that foresters think is around 180 years old.”
And of course the bird population, which is the reason for the farm’s recent recognition, is extensive with birds such as purple martins, bluebirds, king fishers and a variety of ducks that frequent the property.
There are habitats, three wildlife ponds and viewing areas that make the property ideal for bird watchers.
“Our purple martin population actually moved out a little earlier than normal this year, but we still have many varieties of birds for bird watchers and others to enjoy.”
Morrow said the property has a rich history as well as an archeological dig at the property in 2006 and 2007 showed artifacts that led officials to believe that Cypress Cove Farm was actually a village as far back as 10,000 years ago.
“I knew this was a special place when I began purchasing the land 12 years ago,” he said. “I’m just excited to finally be at the point where the land has been added to the Northwest Alabama Birding Trail and more and more people will be able to enjoy the hard work we’ve put in to developing this place.”
Morrow has been cultivating the land at Cypress Cove Farm almost since day one of purchasing the property with the idea of making it into a place where environmental enthusiasts and everyday folks alike could enjoy the beauty of nature.
“I am a firm believer that people who are connected to nature make better citizens, mainly because it helps you connect to its Creator,” Morrow said.
“I think it’s great for kids and young people to get interested in these kinds of things and that was always my hope is that I could inspire a whole new generation to appreciate the world around them.”
Morrow and his wife, Martha, actually have their home located on the property, but the first structure Morrow constructed on the land was an outdoor classroom, which was built in 2002-2003.
Morrow opened the classroom up for use by all county and city school students in Franklin County and the surrounding areas as a way to connect with nature and get hands-on science lessons.
He also made the farm available for Envirothon students who have hosted classes and special outings there over the years.
But for Morrow, caring about the environment around him is not a bandwagon he recently jumped on – it’s nearly a lifelong commitment he made at the age of 12 to be a good steward of God’s creation.
Morrow said he had a revelation early on in life that made him realize he wanted to be a protector of these creations instead of a detriment and it’s something that has always stuck with him.
“When I was a child, we lived in Phil Campbell and we had a 15-acre patch of cotton that we farmed,” Morrow said.
“One day when I was 12, my father told me that we had boll weevils in our cotton crops and asked me to go down to the farm supply store and pick up some DDT to spray on the crop to kill off the boll weevils.
“So I got the DDT and sprayed it all over the boll weevils and felt pretty proud of myself for taking care of that problem like my father had asked.”
Morrow said that night, it rained very hard and when he went to his favorite fishing hole the next morning just down from the field, he saw a devastating sight for a 12-year-old boy.
“Every fish in the pond was dead because of the run-off from the DDT that I had sprayed the day before, and I knew it was my fault,” Morrow said.
“I made a promise to God right then and there that I would do all I could to be a protector of the things He had created and not ever cause such devastation again.
“Since that moment I’ve been connected to nature and it changed the way I look at the environment and the animals.”
Morrow said the experience he had was a catalyst to his on-going cultivation and preservation of Cypress Cove Farm.
“This will be a great tourist attraction and a great thing for the folks who are in town visiting Tiffin Motorhomes to do while they are here, which is something we are very excited about,” Morrow said, “but I hope the people who visit Cypress Cove Farm are able to take away the same love and appreciation for God’s creation that I have because that’s been the main point all along.”
To get to Cypress Cove Farm, located at 1895 Highway 28 in Red Bay, take Alabama 24 from the junction of Alabama 247 and Alabama toward Red Bay for 1.7 miles. Turn right on Mudd Creek Road/Highway 28 and go approximately one mile.
Morrow said Cypress Cove Farm is open year-round and self-guided tours may be taken. The property will close to visitors 30 minutes prior to sunset each day.