When 77% of voting Alabamians passed a statewide amendment to improve our 21 state parks, they did us a favor. Of the $85-million bond approved, $80 million will go toward modernizing the parks and investing in infrastructure to improve them. The funding will make the parks more profitable and improve their position as premiere tourism destinations.
The other $5 million will help the Alabama Historical Commission maintain acquire and construct historical sites.
The amendment approved by voters May 31 originated from the passage of House Bill 565, which was sponsored by Reps. Nathaniel Ledbetter and Wes Kitchens. These legislators showed great foresight to recognize the tens of thousands of tourists the parks lure to our state each year and the need for the updates and renovations to keep the parks attractive.
The bond issue is truly an investment in our state’s future – both economically and environmentally. With interest rates so low, it was the perfect time to make such a move, financially speaking.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 97-1, and it passed the Senate by a vote of 29-0 on an amended version. The final version passed the House 98-0.
Thank you Reps. Ledbetter and Kitchens for finding a much-needed issue that the majority in both chambers could also agree upon – unanimously, a rarity in the Legislature.
Our state parks are a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the 21 parks encompass approximately 50,000 acres of land and water in our state. They range from the Gulf Coast beaches to the Appalachian Mountains. They provide golf courses, hiking trails, restaurants, camping, fishing, conference centers, lodging and more.
The parks are beautiful wonders of nature and provide the best Alabama has to offer. They are found in the following cities: Bladon Springs, Clio, Grove Oak, Woodville, Delta, Auburn, Gallion, Ft. Payne, Florala, Opp, Gulf Shores, Rogersville, Guntersville, Coker, Eufaula, Spanish Fort, Huntsville, Pelham, Selma, Warrior, Camden and Alexander City.
For more information on these Alabama jewels of nature, visit www.alapark.com.
Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former State Auditor and 51st Secretary of State. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC. This is her weekly column, “Around the Capitol” published in newspapers and blogs across the state. She can be reached at Beth@bethchapman.com.