BREAKING: Forever Wild votes to acquire 1,611 acre addition to Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park
King’s Chair at Oak Mountain State Park on January 3, 2021. Photo via Oak Mountain State Park Facebook page

The Forever Wild Board of Trustees voted today to acquire 1,611 acres of forestland adjacent to Oak Mountain State Park— Alabama’s largest state park.

The measure, which was passed by the Board unanimously, directs Forever Wild staff to conduct a second appraisal and proceed to purchase the property. 

To complete the deal, the state will do its due diligence by conducting environmental studies on the property. The current landowner must also agree to the appraised price. 

Where Is It?

EBSCO, the owner of the property, formally nominated the land in 2020.  Known as the “Belcher Tract,” the addition will enlarge Oak Mountain State Park from its existing boundary to Highway 280 near the Greystone and Chelsea communities.

Aside from preserving green space in the midst of one of the fastest growing communities in the state, the purchase will protect “forever” the King’s Chair viewshed, a popular hiking destination.

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

“I am very pleased that the Forever Wild Board has moved to acquire the Belcher property adjacent to Oak Mountain State Park,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource and Chair of the Forever Board.  “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to add such a pristine and undeveloped large scale property to our state park. I am thankful for the landowners and their desire to see the property preserved for perpetuity. This will be a great purchase for the citizens of Alabama and I appreciate all the support from individuals and organizations that wanted to see this accomplished.”

Numerous organizations, including The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, Freshwater Land Trust and local community groups support the efforts to expand the state park.

View Of Belcher Tract
View of the proposed Forever Wild Belcher Tract, L to R – Steve Northcutt, TNC in Alabama Director of Protection, Forever Wild Board member Jim McClintock and TNC Board members Scot Duncan and Bryant Turner, Jr. Photo via The Nature Conservancy in Alabama

“We are sincerely grateful to EBSCO for their willingness to offer the land to the people of Alabama and their patience to engage in this process,” added Mitch Reid, State Director at The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. “This represents over 1600 acres of preserved montane longleaf in one of the last corridors through the Birmingham metro area. This will truly be a win for people and nature.”

To learn more about this historic project watch the video below from The Nature Conservancy in Alabama.

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest news about Forever Wild and Oak Mountain State Park? Follow The Bama Buzz on Facebook 

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Pat Byington
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