Forever Wild considering 1600+ acre addition to Oak Mountain State Park (see aerial video)

King’s Chair at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo from the Alabama State Park Facebook page

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.

Numerous organizations, including The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, Freshwater Land Trust and local community groups are supporting efforts to expand Alabama’s largest state park.

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
Birmingham, Oak Mountain State Park, Wasabi Juan's, holiday entertaining
Take in pristine nature at Alabama’s largest state park. Photo via Oak Mountain State Park’s Facebook page

 

“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.”

Next Steps

View from King’s Chair at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

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.

Huge Opportunity

“It is a phenomenal opportunity for the state.  I can’t imagine another opportunity like this coming back around anytime soon.”

To learn more about the proposal contact The Nature Conservancy or Freshwater Land Trust

Bham Now has published several articles about the Oak Mountain State Park and the Forever Wild Program. 

Check them out:

Who knew? Oak Mountain State Park could have been a National Park + other fun facts

Did you know that Alabama has the smallest percentage of public land in the South? Why it matters.


  • 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.