Leaders celebrate expansion of Oak Mountain State Park

Posted on April 26, 2022

Alabama’s largest state park has expanded by approximately 1,600 acres and safeguarded one of the largest undeveloped tracts along the U.S. 280 corridor thanks to a land purchase facilitated by the Forever Wild Land Trust.

State Parks officials joined local leaders, members of the Forever Wild Land Trust Board of Trustees, representatives from EBSCO, which sold the property, and The Nature Conservancy for a celebration at the new property on Friday.

“This project is a great reminder that securing land and expanding our state parks provides even more recreational opportunities for Alabamians and tourists alike,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “For 83 years, it has taken a conscious effort on the part of our state to invest in our parks to create campgrounds, trails and other amenities that help our citizens access and enjoy all of these special places.

“That is why I also support the State Parks Amendment on the May 24 primary ballot and hope voters will approve it so similar enhancements throughout the state parks system can be made.”

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.

“This is a great addition to Oak Mountain State Park,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “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. I appreciate the dedication of the Forever Wild Land Trust and the work of the Board members to approve and fund this purchase. I also very much appreciate EBSCO for selling this property to Forever Wild so that it can be preserved in perpetuity. EBSCO continues to be a great public steward.”

The Forever Wild Land Trust approved the purchase of 1,644 acres adjacent to Oak Mountain State Park from Birmingham-based EBSCO Industries in 2021.

“This addition to Oak Mountain State Park is a wonderful legacy for the people of Alabama,” said Mitch Reid, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. “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. EBSCO’s decision to put the land into conservation is a true gift, as well as an opportunity to expand one of the most popular parks in Alabama. This is truly a win-win for people and nature.”

State Parks officials are working on plans for the new property, which 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.