Study: Forever Wild is a powerful economic engine

Birmingham Alabama

According to an economic study released this week, the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust is a powerful economic engine that provides numerous fiscal benefits to local communities throughout the state.

$5 to $1

The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, Conservation Alabama Foundation, Birmingham Audubon and the Conservation Fund conducted an analysis of the return on investment in land conservation through the Forever Wild Land Trust and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $5 in natural goods and services.

“Alabama’s natural resources provide a wealth of economic, community and conservation benefits to the citizens of this great state. From a booming outdoor recreation industry to providing outdoor spaces for families to enjoy the great outdoors, Forever Wild is an important investment to protect Alabama’s special places,” said Roger W. Mangham, The Nature Conservancy in Alabama State Director.

National Attractions

The economic study looked at 188,000 acres of Forever Wild lands that had been purchased between 1994 to 2015. Several land acquisitions projects were profiled in the report including, Coldwater Mountain in Calhoun County, which has become a “mountain bike mecca,” and the Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area in Hale County, which is a national marquee site for sporting dog competitions.

Coldwater Mountain Alabama

“We’ve seen firsthand how towns across the state are able to leverage Forever Wild properties as attractions for tourists and residents,” said Tammy Herrington, Executive Director of Conservation Alabama Foundation. “Accessible public lands not only keep our environment healthy, they also provide a solid foundation for Alabama’s communities and economy.”

Created in 1992 by the passage of the Forever Wild Constitutional Amendment, the Forever Wild Land Trust has leveraged private and federal funds, protected vital areas for drinking water and conserved thousands of acres for hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching. In 2012, the Forever Wild program was extended for an additional 20 years by a vote of the people of Alabama.

“The strong return we estimated for the Forever Wild program in Alabama is consistent with what we have found for over a dozen statewide conservation funding programs across the country, and we expect it to grow over time,” said Jessica Sargent, The Trust for Public Land’s Director of Conservation Economics.

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View the full report at


Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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