Gullies have been part of Fairhope's history since the 19th century, when the valleys were formed due to the easily eroded soil and rainfall in the area. Gullies are unique to the Fairhope area, and apart from the beauty of the gullies, they serve an important role for the city. The gullies act as large drainage tunnels for the crazy amount of rain the area receives. The storm drains guide the rainwater into the gullies, the gullies absorb most of it, and direct the rest into Mobile Bay.
Also, the gullies have been used for years for entertainment. In the 1900s, Marietta Johnson's School of Organic Education would take field trips to the gullies, where kids would utilize the gullies for all sorts of recreation and education. They would use the walls of the gullies as chalkboards, play with the clay to make pottery, and perform plays with a genuine backdrop.
I remember playing in the gullies as a kid, as do many that grew up in the area. We would climb down into the gullies at a certain point we knew was less steep and had rocks for handholds. Once we got into the gullies we would walk through them, play in the sand, look for old artifacts, and pretend we were Conquistadors.
This history is why we must protect the gullies of Fairhope. Invasive plant species, debris, and erosion are all major threats to system of gullies beneath the city. The invasive plant species were planted to protect the gullies from the natural forces that created them, but they have gotten out of control. Experts estimate that 90% of the plants currently in Fairhope are not indigenous species. These invasive plants spread rapidly due to their fast growth and massive amount of seeds created and dispersed through by rainwater. Debris, however, we should work to eliminated. The gullies have always been an illegal way to dispose trash, and now trash is starting to pile up. It is up to us to protect our gullies.
by: Reid Gambino, Guest Blogger