Last week, members of the Forever Wild Land Trust board of directors, Alabama State Park officials, local leaders, nature conservation and EBSCO executives all gathered at the park of Oak Mountain State to celebrate the purchase of land to increase the size of the largest state park in the state. park.
The property – a 1,644-acre tract known as the Belcher Property – extends Oak Mountain State Park to more than 11,000 acres and preserves a rare mountain pine forest near the communities of Greystone and Chelsea .
Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said, “This is a beautiful property in rapidly growing Shelby County, and it is gratifying to secure this land so that Alabamians and visitors can enjoy it.”
He also thanked EBSCO for selling the property to be preserved, calling the company great public stewards.
Mitch Reid, director of the Nature Conservancy in Alabama, said: “This expanse of long sheets of mountain is one of the most unique habitats in the country, and we are lucky to have it and to be able to protect it, here in the Birmingham Underground. region. It really is a win-win for people and nature.
According to a press release, state park officials are already working on plans for the new property. This will almost certainly include an extension of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails from existing areas of the park. Additionally, improving access to the park from US 280 is also being considered as a future project.
These additions will accompany already existing features that include over 50 miles of trails, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, horseback riding facilities, fishing lakes, boat rentals, picnic areas and of beach, a demonstration farm and the majestic Peavine Falls.
The Alabama Wildlife Center, located inside the park, also offers rehabilitation services to injured native birds to return them to the wild. Resident birds can be viewed from the Tree Top Nature Trail, an elevated boardwalk that winds through a secluded wooded valley.