A detailed description of land use changes is described under Threats.
The rural areas of the Lower Cahaba provide a stark contrast to the urban / suburban areas of the Upper Cahaba. Centreville and Marion are the two largest urban areas and have economies based on small manufacturing and farming with Centreville also having a forest products industry and Marion two institutes of higher learning. (Cahaba Project – Draft Report)
Farming and animal production are the major land use features in the lower Cahaba from Marion south.
South of Centreville, the Talladega National Forest (Oakmulgee Division) occupies much of the watershed area.
The following is the % of each counties land area that rests in the Cahaba Basin
91 % of Bibb County
56 % of Perry County
34 % of Shelby County
The following is the % of the total Cahaba River Watershed possessed by each county
31% of the basin lies in Bibb County
22% in Perry
15% in both Jefferson and Shelby Counties
Primary agricultural products according to production value within the seven county basin area are:
Timber $174 million
Broilers $45 million
Cattle $34 million
Vegetables $23 million
Nursery plants $17 million
(Cahaba Project – Draft Report)
Riparian ownership on the Cahaba is by private individuals (approximately 72 miles) and corporations (approximately 44 miles).
Commercial forest acres in the Cahaba Basin is primarily oak-hickory (38%) followed by loblolly-shortleaf pine (31%). (^Project)
The Cahaba coal field is unique among North American coal basins because it contains the thickest succession of Lower Pennsylvanian strata on the continent and is the southernmost coal field of the Appalachian thrust belt. The Cahaba field is the oldest in Alabama with the first surface mine beginning operation in Bibb County in 1815, while the states first underground mine was established in Shelby County in 1856.