Alabama’s leading National Forests advocates announce rebirth of Wild Alabama

Wild Alabama staff. Kneeling left to right: Maggie Johnston, Mark Kolinski, Joseph Jenkins. Standing Kim Waites and Janice Barrett. Photo via Wild Alabama

Some good news for Alabama’s National Forests.

Wild South, the North Carolina based regional forest protection group has announced plans to restructure the organization and form a new independent and separate non-profit organization called Wild Alabama

Longtime environmental advocate and educator Maggie Johnston has been tapped to serve as the new organization’s Executive Director. No stranger to nature education, Johnston has been the director of Camp McDowell’s Educational Programs (McDowell Environmental Center and McDowell Farm School) for the past 16 years. She also started Alabama’s first nature-based preschool, Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell. 

As part of the restructuring, the group will keep the entire staff and maintain its current programs and office in Moulton, Alabama, near the Bankhead National Forest

The new Alabama-based group will continue a close sisterhood relationship with Wild South.

A Rebirth

Wild Alabama Wilderness Rangers. Photo via Wild Alabama

You know the old saying, “Everything old is new again?”

Even though it will officially be a new organization in the eyes of the IRS, Wild Alabama has a long storied and successful conservation history in the state. 

Originally, the group started off as the Bankhead Monitor in the early 90s. In 1994, they expanded their work statewide and changed their name to Wild Alabama. Eventually, the group became Wild South in the 2000s to reflect their regional efforts. In 2007, they merged with the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, kept the name Wild South and moved its headquarters to Asheville, North Carolina.  

In the meantime, over nearly three decades, the organization chalked up conservation victories, including permanently protecting tens of thousands of acres in national forests throughout the southeast and establishing award-winning forest stewardship programs.

Now, coming full circle, there will be a rebirth of Wild Alabama.

Continuing the Work

Wild Alabama Wilderness Rangers. Photo via Wild Alabama


 The new Wild Alabama’s mission remains the same. They will continue to protect, promote and educate citizens about Alabama’s National Forests and the three Wilderness areas—the Sipsey, Cheaha and Dugger Wilderness areas.

They will also tirelessly assist the US Forest Service to maintain trails, keep trailheads and camping areas clean, and provide aid and assistance to hikers within the Bankhead, Talladega and other national forests. 

“The Forest Service values our relationship with the hard-working staff and volunteers of Wild Alabama and looks forward to sharing stewardship of our state’s Wilderness areas and working cooperatively to achieve our Forest Plan goal.”

Andy Scott, district ranger of the Bankhead National Forest

Along with the US Forest Service, Wild Alabama has national partners: 

On a statewide level, Wild Alabama partners with Winston County Natural Resource Council, Walker Area Community Foundation, Alabama Water Watch, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Environmental Education Association of Alabama, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and others. 

New Chapter

Wild Alabama volunteers and staff in the Cheaha National Forest. Photo via Wild Alabama

“We are so excited that Wild Alabama is building on their history of protecting Alabama’s water and biodiversity. They have been a great partner to the Alabama Rivers Alliance for years and we look forward to this new chapter!”

Cindy Lowry, Alabama Rivers Alliance

Volunteers Needed

Interested in protecting and preserving Alabama’s National Forests? Visit Wild Alabama’s website at and contact Maggie at for more information.

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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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