New Documentary about Jim Martin and Forever Wild premieres on APTV

Longtime Conservation Commissioner Jim Martin. Screenshot from the James D. Martin Story trailer

If you are interested in learning the history behind one of the biggest conservation success stories over the past three decades in Alabama, tune in to APTV this week.

Forever Wild: The James D. Martin Story” chronicles the life of the former Alabama congressman who served as director of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Through his leadership, the state’s Forever Wild Program was established in 1992 by constitutional amendment. Since then, the program has preserved over 300,000 acres of land – forever.

The documentary about Martin’s extraordinary life premieres on APTV Monday evening, November 9, at 9:00 p.m.

From World War to Forever Wild

Longtime Conservation Commissioner Jim Martin. Screenshot from the James D. Martin Story trailer

The story of Jim Martin (everyone called him Jim) begins in the closing days of World War II, when he was one of the first Americans to discover a Nazi concentration camp and observe the worst of what man can do to his fellow man.  The next day he served as a guide for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and other top U.S. generals who wanted to see the camp. 

In the early 1960s, Martin was one of the first Republicans to seriously challenge the lock on Alabama politics held by the Democratic Party, nearly defeating incumbent J. Lister Hill in the race for the U.S. Senate in 1962. Martin served one term in the U.S. House from 1965-1967. Although Martin was unsuccessful in several later campaigns for office, he continued to have an important impact on state politics. 

Later, at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Martin pressed oil companies to pay fair royalties to the state for oil pumped from Alabama coastal waters, fought to preserve Alabama’s coastal boundaries, and founded Alabama’s Forever Wild program to preserve wild areas for everyone to enjoy. 

Longleaf Studios

The documentary was produced by Jacksonville State University’s Longleaf Studios with Alabama Public Television. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for JSU to tell one of the many stories that have shaped the state of Alabama. The partnership with JSU’s Longleaf Studios and Alabama Public Television to produce these documentaries provides our students with invaluable experience working on real-world projects with industry professionals.”

J. Seth Johnson, department head and professor at JSU and director of Longleaf Studios

Learn More About Forever Wild

White-topped pitcher plants and Forever Wild’s Splinter Hill Bog. Photo by Billy Pope.

Before you watch the documentary make sure to learn about the Forever Wild Program in Alabama.

Here are a series of articles that were published in Bham Now about the successful program.

4 natural treasures Alabama has protected through the Forever Wild Program

Forever Wild turns 26. How Alabama established one of the greatest conservation programs in the state’s history

Despite a 5-fold return on investment, Forever Wild needs your help. See what you can do now.


  • 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.