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EBSCO land sale increases Alabama’s largest park

Last week, members of the Forever Wild Land Trust Board of Trustees, Alabama State Park officials, local leaders, the Nature Conservancy and leaders from EBSCO all met at Oak Mountain State Park to celebrate the purchase of land to increase the size of the state’s largest park.

The property – a 1,644-acre tract known as the Belcher Property – expands Oak Mountain State Park to more than 11,000 acres and preserves a rare mountain longleaf pine forest near the Greystone and Chelsea communities.

Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources stated, “It is a beautiful piece of property in fast growing Shelby County, and it’s gratifying to secure this land so Alabamians and visitors can enjoy it.”

He also thanked EBSCO for selling the property to be preserved, calling the company great public stewards.

Mitch Reid, the director of the Nature Conservancy in Alabama, said, “This mountain longleaf tract is some of the most unique habitat in the country, and we are fortunate to have it, and be able to protect it, here in the Birmingham metro area. This is truly a win-win for people and nature.”

According to a press release, State Parks officials are already working on plans for the new property. This will almost certainly include an extension of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails from existing areas of the park. In addition, improved access to the park from U.S. 280 is also being considered as a future project.

These additions will accompany already existing features that include more than 50 miles of trails, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, horseback riding facilities, fishing lakes, boat rentals, picnic and beach areas, demonstration farm and majestic Peavine Falls.

The Alabama Wildlife Center, located inside the park also offers rehabilitation services to injured native birds to return them to the wild. The resident birds can be viewed from the Tree Top Nature Trail, an elevated boardwalk winding through a secluded woodland valley.