ALABAMA'S public lands
The network of state parks and the lands included in the Forever Wild Land Trust represent a commitment to preserving Alabama’s open spaces and making them accessible to everyday citizens. They were established with the understanding that everyone deserves to experience nature, and that there is a value in preserving nature for nature’s sake. Because these places have become destinations for tourists and locals alike, they have also contributed to the economic health of the nearby communities. A 2014 study by the University of Alabama estimated the economic impact of Alabama’s state parks at $375 million. In 2017, the Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 invested in the Forever Wild Land Trust, $5 returned to Alabama in natural goods and services. Clearly, we can’t afford to lose our state parks and public lands, both for their intrinsic value and their quantifiable impact on our communities and economy.
Alabama's state parks
From 2010 to 2015, the state of Alabama required administrative transfers of funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, appropriating money earned by license fees and state park entrance costs into the General Fund. As a direct result, five of Alabama’s 22 state parks closed in October 2015, and an additional six parks reduced their services and hours. Thanks to the public outcry in support of Alabama's state parks, a constitutional amendment appeared on the 2016 ballot to permanently protect parks' funding. That amendment passed with 80% of the vote, and Alabama's state parks can now keep the money they earn and reinvest it in maintaining and upgrading the properties that locals and visitors alike love.
Forever Wild LAND TRUST
The Forever Wild Land Trust purchases land from willing sellers and preserves it using money generated from the Alabama Trust Fund, which houses revenue from offshore drilling in Alabama's waters. Forever Wild was overwhelmingly renewed for another 20 years by a statewide vote in 2012. During the 2015 legislative session, efforts were made to defund the trust but that bill was swiftly defeated thanks to hundreds of calls, emails, and letters to elected officials demanding that the state's most popular conservation program be preserved. Beyond the natural goods and services Alabama receives by preserving land, communities are able to leverage Forever Wild properties into destinations for recreational tourism. This not only brings in new visitors and new revenue, it also makes our small towns and rural areas even more attractive places to live.
For a full list of places to hunt, fish, camp, bike, canoe, or simply be outdoors, click here.