The Freshwater Land Trust works to conserve land in Jefferson, Shelby, Blount, Chilton, Bibb, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa, and Walker Counties in Alabama. The Freshwater Land Trust has protected– or helped to protect– over 10,000 acres throughout central Alabama. To work under our mission of acquiring and caring for lands that enhance water quality and preserve open space, the Land Trust has holdings along Five Mile, Village, Valley, Shades, Little Shades Creeks and Turkey Creek as well as the Cahaba River.
It is a rare occasion that the Freshwater Land Trust becomes involved in a legislative issue. We are proud of our non-advocacy and businesslike approach to land conservation and the broad partnerships we have been able to build and utilize. However, there are times when an issue arises that is too crucial for our conservation work to ignore. The reauthorization of Forever Wild, a program with the same broad partnerships and overwhelming popular support as our organization, is one such issue.
Our Board of Directors, therefore, has made a commitment to making this piece of legislation a top priority for our organization. The Freshwater Land Trust is not only investing financially, but the Board has asked Wendy Jackson, the Executive Director of the Land Trust, to take a leadership role. She is currently serving as the Vice Chair of Protect Forever Wild.
The Freshwater Land Trust is proud to actively support the Protect Forever Wild Coalition: a group of businesses and conservation, environmental, hunting and angling organizations, along with other outdoor recreation entities from all across Alabama. They have all come together in support of the protection and reauthorization of Forever Wild in its current form, as is.
Over the past 19 years, Alabama’s Forever Wild program has worked with great success to preserve Alabama’s most beautiful and environmentally sensitive land, making it more accessible to the public for outdoor recreation, education, land and habitat improvement, and much more. Hiking, biking, public hunting and fishing, birding, photography, camping, nature study, canoeing, and horseback riding are only a few examples of the activities facilitated by Forever Wild lands.
Forever Wild lands provide the opportunity for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Alabama, contributing to the $2.2 billion annual statewide impact of these activities. Many Forever Wild tracts like the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Ruffner Mountain, the newest Tannehill tract, and the Walls of Jericho are extremely popular, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year from all over the country. These visitors, in turn, drive local economic activity through the purchase of gas, lodging, food and a variety of other expenditures while visiting these local communities.
Forever Wild was established in 1992 by a Constitutional Amendment garnering an overwhelming 84 percent of the statewide vote. Since its founding, Forever Wild has purchased more than 200,000 acres on 70 tracts of land throughout Alabama for use as wildlife management areas, recreation areas, nature preserves, and state parks. To date, more than 99 percent of the 200,000 + acres purchased by Forever Wild are available to Alabama’s citizens for public use and recreation, and 96 percent is available for public hunting.
While our state has made valiant strides over the last 19 years, we still pale in comparison to southeastern states in terms of percentage of state lands available to the public. Alabama has the lowest percentage of public lands (4.4%) among southeastern states: FL (21.2%); VA (9.9%); NC (9%); TN (7.3%); SC (7.1%); GA (7%); KY (6.1%); MS (6%). Therefore, we need Forever Wild to continue.
Despite all of its accomplishments, the funding for Forever Wild will end in 2012 unless reauthorized by the Alabama Legislature. The Freshwater Land Trust is committed to working to reauthorize Forever Wild, as-is, for another 20 years through its financial commitment and leadership role with Protect Forever Wild. We proudly stand behind the great work of Forever Wild, and will dedicate ourselves to ensuring the program is reauthorized so that all Alabamians can experience the wonder and joy of our beautiful outdoors. To see how you can help, please visit www.protectforeverwild.org.
To see Wendy Jackson’s March 20, 2011 editorial in the Birmingham News, please visit http://blog.al.com/birmingham-news-commentary/2011/03/viewpoints_most_people_want_fo.html.
Village Creek is steeped in Birmingham’s history, serving as the water source for a booming steel industry that gave birth to a city that rose like magic from a simple crossroads community. Unfortunately, with the rise and subsequent decline of the steel industry, Village Creek and the communities along its banks have struggled with the adverse impacts of their industrial heritage. Pollution, socio-economic decline, and abandoned industrial sites are some of the many problems that this watershed faces today. Continue reading
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Join us as we quisque semper, tortor nec interdum hendrerit, massa dolor egestas libero, sed commodo erat urna a leo. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Praesent id tellus sapien, pharetra interdum est. Proin adipiscing odio mi. Integer placerat, metus id dapibus lacinia. Continue reading
Please visit the Freshwater Land Trust at the Green Resource Center for Alabama’s Clover Crawl on Saturday, March 20th from 10am — 4pm at Vulcan Park and Museum. For more information, see www.greenalabama.org.