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The state of Alabama’s Forever Wild Program is considering a proposal to add over 1600 acres to Oak Mountain State Park, protecting “forever” the King’s Chair viewshed, one of the state’s most popular hiking destinations.
Earlier this year, EBSCO, the owner of the tract, formally nominated the property to the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust Board. Known as the “Belcher Tract,” the addition will enlarge Oak Mountain State Park from the existing boundary to Highway 280 near the Greystone and Chelsea communities.
The Nature Conservancy Support and Video
This week, The Nature Conservancy announced its support for the project with the release of an aerial video of the property and an email to supporters from the group’s Executive Director Mitch Reid.
Here is the stunning video, which was shot by Tom Bartels.
In an interview with Bham Now, TNC’s Reid described the video and the significance of the proposal.
“The video is showing the King’s Chair overlook. From that overlook, you are looking out over essentially all of the property that has been nominated by EBSCO.
From that overlook, which is probably one of the most popular places in the entire park, everything below from King’s Chair to the ridgeline off into the distance, is all Belcher property.
It needs to be protected for the park, otherwise, it is subject to development. There is another shot later in the video that shows from the top of the ridgeline looking down at the lakes near Indian Springs.”Mitch Reid, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy
“Why is this important? On the one hand, you have the protection of the viewshed from King’s Chair, the valley down below. On the other hand, it will protect that ridgeline so you don’t have development over the top of the park.”
“We are so thankful that EBSCO nominated this for conservation under the Alabama Forever Wild Program.
This would benefit so many in the area—from the potential to expand Oak Mountain State Park’s fantastic hiking and biking trail complex to adding some really cool fishing and ‘backcountry’ camping possibilities.
This tract also has a very nice stand of Alabama’s native Mountain Longleaf Pine which, from a conservation perspective, makes this a really exciting opportunity.”
According to Reid, the Forever Wild Board has voted to do a first appraisal of the property. Along with appraisals, the state will have to evaluate the land and do its due diligence before it considers purchasing the property. The Alabama Forestry Commission is also exploring whether funds through the federal Forest Legacy Program could match the State’s Forever Wild contribution.
“It is a phenomenal opportunity for the state. I can’t imagine another opportunity like this coming back around anytime soon.”
Bham Now Related Articles
Bham Now has published several articles about the Oak Mountain State Park and the Forever Wild Program.
Check them out: