Forever Wild passed 30 years ago this week. Here is what it accomplished

Forever Wild
Forever Wild’s Turkey Creek property in Jefferson County. (Pat Byington (Bham Now)

On November 3, 1992, the voters of Alabama passed the Forever Wild Constitutional Amendment, one of the most successful conservation laws in state history.

What is Forever Wild?

Three decades ago, Alabama had the least amount of public land set aside for conservation and wildlife in the South. The state of Alabama had no plan or programs to expand parks, nature preserves and wildlife areas.

Forever Wild changed all that.

Thanks to the broadest conservation coalition ever assembled in the state’s history, the amendment—which set up and paid for the program—was approved by 84% of the state’s voters. In 2012, the program was overwhelmingly renewed once again for the next 20 years. 

What has Forever Wild Accomplished over 30 years?

Forever Wild protects Alabama’s natural heritage, provides us clean water and gives us places to enjoy the outdoors.

Here are a few of the program’s numbers and accomplishments:

  • 92% of Alabama’s population lives within 25 miles of a Forever Wild property. 
  • 98% of Alabama’s citizens live within 50 miles of a Forever Wild property
  • 243,561 acres are within the Wildlife Management Area (WMA)/Community Hunting Area system
  • 36,645 acres are managed by ADCNR State Lands Division as nature preserves or recreation areas 
  • Forever Wild’s two most popular properties are: Turkey Creek Nature Preserve—100,000+,  followed by Forever Wild Trails – Dothan —between 50,000-60,000 
  • 390 miles of multi-use trail have been constructed on Forever Wild properties
  • Total Forever Wild Tracts: 198 tracts – 280,000 acres
  • Forever Wild Program has leveraged an additional $128,149,020 ($128M) in grant awards and other funding over the past three decades.

Special Places Saved

Cahaba Lily
Cahaba Lily at the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. (Pat Byington/The Bama Buzz)

Alongside the numbers, Forever Wild has saved some of Alabama’s most iconic and beloved places.

They include:

What’s Next

There is still plenty of land that needs to be protected and preserved. According to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blakenship,  Forever Wild is an invaluable tool to accomplish that task.

“People ask me—how much land does the state need for public access or how much land does the public need to own in the state?

I don’t know what that number is. But I can promise you this—we’re nowhere close to where we need to be. As our population grows and more people are enjoying the outdoors, we need public land commensurate with the population. Alabama’s still far behind other states in the amount of land available for public access.”

Want to learn more about Forever Wild? Below is Bham Now’s series about the program that was published earlier this fall.

Happy 30th birthday Forever Wild! How it became a blueprint for conservation in Alabama

99.8% of Alabamians live within 50 miles of one of these Forever Wild properties—see how the program has changed our state for the better

Saving Alabama’s special places is a top Forever Wild priority, says Conservation Commissioner

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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