Economy and Land Use

black warrior economy and land use
Map and landuse data produced by Alabama Water Watch

The Black Warrior Basin is the largest southernmost coal producing area in North America. (Metee, Keith, Wood)

The Warrior River drains the Warrior Coal Basin, an approximately 4,000 square mile expanse of coal reserves. The Warrior Coal Field is the largest one in Alabama and is 2,000 feet thick. Covers all of Walker County and parts of Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Blount, Cullman, Winston and Fayette. The type of coal is Bitumious and is of fairly high grade compared to other fields in Alabama. The Warrior River drains through the center of the Warrior Coal Field. (Wood)

Soils in the Coal Field are much less fertile than those in the Coastal Plain. River bottom lands were so narrow (with overhanging cliffs) they too were impractical for Agriculture (Wood)

Methane gas is a by-product of the geologic process that turns organic material into coal. This gas, a hazard in underground coal mining, is normally wasted into the atmosphere.

River Commerce, though not as vital as it was to the early development of the region, is still a major player in the economy of the region. In the 1960s the river averaged 5,688,120 tons of commerce annually down the Black Warrior. (Rivers of Alabama)

Livestock agriculture is particularly important in the Cullman region of the Black Warrior Basin. Cullman County is the leading county for chicken production in the U.S., producing 164 million chickens per year. Cotton and soybeans are primary row crops in the basin.

The Birmingham metropolitan area contains over one million people, nearly 1/4 of Alabama’s population. The city straddles the divide between the Black Warrior and Cahaba Basins.