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Red Hills wildlife management area to be expanded

Nearly 2,000 acres has been added to the Red Hills Wildlife Management Area in Monroe County, thanks to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant.

The federal agency awarded $2.57 million to purchase 1,728 acres of critical Red Hills salamander habitat. The purchase will protect the habitat as well as increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting, wildlife watching, and birding, the agency said in a news release. The land will be added to the 11,063-acre Red Hills Wildlife Management Area.

“This WMA is a great example of how you can provide a sanctuary for threatened species while expanding access to outdoor recreation. We are grateful for the partnerships that have helped make this project possible,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and chairman of the Forever Wild Land Trust board.

The goal of land purchases like this is to work toward delisting threatened species such as the Red Hills salamander. This species can grow up to 10 inches long and is one of the largest lungless salamanders in the world. The known habitat for this species is a small strip of land in the Red Hills region of Alabama and is found nowhere else in the world.

Future conservation plans for the land include other imperiled animals and the potential to reintroduce other species. These include the Bachman’s sparrow, worm-eating warbler, endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, southern hognose snake, coral snake, eastern fox squirrel, as well as many aquatic species that may be present in headwater streams located on or near the area.

For information, visit outdooralabama.com.

David Palmore is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News.

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