Desoto State Park expands 157 acres, protecting Desoto Falls

Desoto Falls
Desoto Falls at Desoto State Park. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Nature and waterfall lovers rejoice!

Earlier this month, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources successfully expanded Desoto State Park by 157-acres. The additional land protects critical habitat along Little River and maintains the pristine natural beauty of the popular DeSoto Falls area.

Located on a ridge along Lookout Mountain, eight miles from Fort Payne, Alabama, Desoto State Park was ranked as the fifth-most visited natural destination in 2020,by the Alabama Department of Tourism,

“The Alabama State Parks system is dedicated to preserving natural areas of our state, and that’s exactly what this land purchase accomplishes,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship in an Outdoor Alabama news release. “DeSoto Falls is one of Alabama’s true natural wonders, and we keep it that way by preserving the area for future generations to enjoy.”

Little River West Fork Tract

The land acquisition is called the Little River West Fork Tract. It secures more than 1,000 feet of frontage along Little River, enhancing public access to the waterway above the falls. The purchase supports the park’s mission to enhance public recreation and interpret the natural environment. The tract compliments the state ownership of land at DeSoto Falls, as well as those of nearby Forever Wild property along the West Fork of Little River.

Limiting development along the west fork of Little River also helps the nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve, which is located downriver from the park, and protects the natural scenery on Lookout Mountain.

Park Numbers Grow

Desoto Falls
Desoto Falls. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Recent expansion of the state park could not have come at a better time. In 2019, the popular Desoto welcomed 184,000 visitors. In 2020, attendance at the park grew over a third topping 289,000.

“I know how much Little River and DeSoto State Park mean to the people of northeast Alabama,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville). “It’s a source of pride because of its natural beauty, and it’s also a huge driver for economic development because it draws so many tourists to the area. I’m proud of the foresight shown by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for preserving this amazing property so all Alabamians and tourists visiting our state can enjoy it for years to come.”

In the News

Alabama State Parks are riding a wave of popularity. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic,Alabama’s State Parks set visitation records in 2020. This year, the Alabama Legislature passed a constitutional amendment to fund renovations at the parks. Approval of the $85 million bond will be considered by a vote of the people in 2022.

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Pat Byington
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