It’s official — Oak Mountain State Park is now 1644 acres larger

Lake on Forever Wild Belcher Property
Lake on Forever Wild Belcher Property that is now a part of Oak Mountain State Park. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest state park, has expanded 1644 acres,  safeguarding one of the largest undeveloped tracts along the U.S. 280 corridor. 

On Friday, April 15th, State Parks officials joined local leaders, members of the Forever Wild Land Trust Board of Trustees, representatives from EBSCO—which sold the property—and The Nature Conservancy for a celebration at the new property. 

“This is a great addition to Oak Mountain State Park,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “It is a beautiful piece of property in fast growing Shelby County, and it’s gratifying to secure this land so Alabamians and visitors can enjoy it. I appreciate the dedication of the Forever Wild Land Trust and the work of the Board members to approve and fund this purchase. I also very much appreciate EBSCO for selling this property to Forever Wild so that it can be preserved in perpetuity. EBSCO continues to be a great public steward.”

Shared Vision

Forever Wild
EBSCO CEO David Walker addressing ceremony celebrating the expansion of Oak Mountain State Park. Seated left to right – UAB’s Dr. Jim McClintock, Mitch Reid, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Alabama and ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

In the Fall of 2021, the Forever Wild Land Trust approved the purchase of the property, which lies adjacent to Oak Mountain State Park from Birmingham-based EBSCO Industries. The State Land Trust completed the purchase this month.

“This project was made possible because EBSCO shares the same vision as the Forever Wild Land Trust, as well as the Nature Conservancy—a shared vision for conservation,” EBSCO CEO David Walker told the gathering. The real benefactors of this property in this transaction are you and me, our children and our grandchildren and future generations who will get to enjoy this beautiful property.”

This is an Alabama Story

Forever Wild
Forever Wild Belcher Property that is now a part of Oak Mountain State Park. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

The land—a 1,644-acre tract known as the Belcher Property—expands Oak Mountain State Park to more than 11,000 acres and preserves a rare mountain longleaf pine forest, near the Greystone and Chelsea communities.

“In Alabama, the Appalachian Mountains start here,” described Nature Conservancy in Alabama State Director Mitch Reid — pointing at the stunning vista of mountains and forests seen from the property. “They go all the way up to Maine. That forest intersected with those mountains and Alabama. And those trees went up that mountain and they became mountain longleaf. Oak Mountain State Park, the Belcher tract has some of the most amazing places that you will see in all of Alabama. They are part of that legacy, a  mountain longleaf system that exists really nowhere else on earth. This is an Alabama story. And this is a critical piece of that story.”

Oak Mountain State Park —Priceless Gift

Noted UAB professor, scientist and Forever Wild Board member Jim McClintock ended the ceremony with a celebratory statement:

“I ride my road bike back and forth across this park three or four times a week, from gate to gate. When I cross the dam on the lake, far down there below (pointing toward Oak Mountain State Park), I usually stop and glance up at this very spot we are today, knowing what It represents: a priceless gift to every citizen of Alabama, and people from other states and countries that will visit. It brings me a smile and thoughts that this addition to our park will bring joy, both in recreation, and in environmental sustainability.”

State Parks Amendment in May

The new addition to Oak Mountain State Park is timely. At the end of the celebration Commissioner Blankenship asked the crowd to vote yes on the $85 million State Park amendment that will be on the May 24th ballot. 

Are you excited about the expansion of Oak Mountain State Park? Tell us what you think of the new addition on social media @bhamnow

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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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