It is with a heavy heart that we share this news with you. As of this week, if you access Ruffner Mountain via the old Irondale Trailhead, you will be doing so through private property. We wanted to be the first to inform you of this new development to prevent any confusion.
In January of 2016, Walter Energy auctioned off 5.65 acres located at 300 Ruffner Road, roughly the site of the Ruffner Road trailhead. It was then purchased by J&S International Inc. for $60,000. Prior to this sale, Ruffner Mountain had reached out, unsuccessfully, to Walter Energy to inquire whether the land could be donated to the Nature Preserve (the Ruffner Mountain Nature Coalition is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and had no money for purchase at that time). Fast forward to summer, and the City of Irondale Commercial Development Authority, made an offer of $80,000 for the aforementioned 5.65 acres in an effort to support Ruffner Mountain. For this we are immensely grateful. J&S International, a stone manufacturing company, then made a counteroffer to the Irondale CDA: one acre of land that encompasses the back entrance of Ruffner Preserve for $80,000. The counteroffer was not accepted. Financially speaking, purchasing one (1) acre for $80,000 would not only be fiscally irresponsible, it would be ecologically irresponsible, as well, resulting in light pollution and other disruptions of ecosystems crucial to the health of the mountain overall.
Just recently, during a phone conversation, Ruffner’s Executive Director, Carlee Sanford, asked if J&S International would accept $100,000 for the 5.65 acre parcel of land. They responded that the price stood at a previously established amount of $750,000 for the entire 5.65 acre parcel.
J&S International plans to install a fence and begin site prep on January 31st. While this trailhead will no longer be a legitimate Ruffner Mountain access point, you will still be able to enter the Preserve at our other Ruffner Road entrance, which leads to the Pipeline Trail and Wetlands. This situation is ongoing, so we will notify you of any new developments as soon as we hear of them.
Ruffner will continue its work of restoration and conservation on the mountain. For 20 years, the Irondale trailhead has stood as a symbol of this work and as a beloved gateway for countless visitors to the mountain. If you are among the many who used this trailhead and would like to support Ruffner, we will be holding an open house at the Nature Center on January 31, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, where you will have the chance to voice your concerns. As a non-profit, it is this support that we rely on in order to remain free and open to all, while protecting our lands and waterways. Let us continue together as partners in conservation and build a sustainable future for all. Thank you for your support.
The staff of Ruffner Mountain