Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust Secures 3,500 Acres
The State of Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust has recently completed a significant land purchase in east-central Alabama. The week of January 4, Forever Wild concluded a lengthy negotiation for the purchase of 3,518-acres on the western side of Yates Reservoir, located south of Lake Martin. This purchase will protect over 6 miles of waterfront and provide for more outdoor recreational opportunities. Combined with the 1995 purchase of the Coon Creek Tract on the east side of the lake, the Yates Reservoir acreage now totals 3,838.
The most recent Yates Reservoir purchase will provide for an entirely new recreational area located near a growing population along the I-85 travel corridor. Located in a historic area, this tract of land once supported gold mines in the foothills of Alabama's portion of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, the area hosts beautiful streams, mature forests, and magnificent views along the western shore of the Tallapoosa River. With the opening of a series of recreational trails in the coming years, the tract will also be the subject of restoration management for longleaf pine forests, which support various species including: bobwhite quail,whitetail deer, eastern turkey and the Bachman's sparrow.
Barnett Lawley, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner and Chairman of the Forever Wild Board of Trustees, believes the most recent Forever Wild purchase reinforces program's success. "In the last two years the program has secured over 79,000 acres in nine counties just across the black belt region," Lawley said. "The Yates Reservoir addition continues to follow through on Forever Wild's mission to conserve ecologically important tracts of land and expand outdoor recreational opportunities for all Alabamians."
Despite having fewer opportunities for large-scale land purchases in a state where most land is privately held, Forever Wild continues to expand its acreage. According to State Lands Director Patti Powell, the land buying opportunities are a direct result of the state legislature creating Forever Wild in 1992. "Alabama is benefiting from some unique land opportunities at a time when other options are extremely limited," Powell said. "Without the forethought of state lawmakers we would not be able to conserve so much of Alabama's natural heritage and make it available to the public for the types of recreation projects like the ones planed for Yates Reservoir."
The Forever Wild project has been crucial in advancing the long-term protection of recreational lands throughout the state and has protected over 212,792 acres since its inception in 1992. The program also provides affordable, accessible hunting opportunities for all Alabamians and helps to generate $1.4 billion of annual economic impact throughout the state. The Forever Wild tracts were purchased through 74 individual transactions in 24 counties, and are managed under the principles of multiple-use. To learn more about the Forever Wild Program, visit www.alabamaforeverwild.com.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama's natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.