As the weather continues to warm and summer temperatures approach, I am reminded of the incredible natural beauty that lies here in Alabama.
For many schools throughout Southwest Alabama, April marked Spring Break for students and teachers, and so many families take advantage of that time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors throughout our state.
As a hunter and outdoorsman, I know the importance of managing our wildlife areas and natural resources – private, family-owned and public lands – to ensure they are around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy for decades to come. That is why I have once again joined the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to protect and advance our national heritage of hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and trapping.
As anyone who lives here knows, along the Gulf Coast we are blessed with an amazingly diverse and important ecosystem.
This week, I will be visiting the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge along the Fort Morgan Peninsula to celebrate the completion of a significant land conservation effort within the Little Point Clear Unit. Bon Secour is home to countless species and is a favorite outdoor spot for many Southwest Alabamians.
Just across Mobile Bay, I’ll also have the privilege of participating in the Lightning Point Restoration Project groundbreaking in Bayou La Batre, another successful coastal restoration project made possible by local leadership and public-private partnerships.
With miles of trails and plenty to do and see, I am committed to preserving these important resources and habitats for future generations.
Just here in our backyard of Southwest Alabama, we also have Gulf State Park, Meaher State Park, Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, Frank Jackson State Park, dozens of walking trails, outdoor spaces and campgrounds.
It is up to us to take care of our area. Just a few weeks ago, Orange Beach was named the cleanest town in Alabama. What an accomplishment for Orange Beach residents!
It is also up to Congress to ensure that we take care of our natural resources as well. That is why I have continued to fight for just compensation in cases of natural disaster or human error.
The RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States) Act has provided funds for the cleanup from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that greatly impacted our shores and communities. It is important that the entirety of those funds are distributed as intended to the impacted communities and that such a disaster is not repeated in the future.
Similarly, I am grateful to President Trump for maintaining the funding for the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA). This legislation provides for fair compensation to Alabama by creating revenue sharing provisions used for coastal conservation, restoration and hurricane protection.
Enjoying the beauty of mother nature along the coast also means having to recover when she turns violent.
We are unfortunately all too familiar with hurricanes and other violent storms in our area. Being prepared goes a long way to riding out the storm, but it is how we recover that defines the spirit of resilience that we have here in Alabama. When the worst does happen, I always fight to ensure that the people of Alabama have access to the necessary funds and resources to recover from those natural disasters.
I have lived my whole life in Alabama, and I believe we live in the most beautiful state in the country. Whenever I am out in nature with my kids and grandkids, hunting, fishing, or simply enjoying God’s creation, I understand why we call it “Alabama the Beautiful.”
This year, as the Spring turns into Summer, make sure you take time to enjoy nature and get out and enjoy our parks, history and everything Alabama has to offer.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.