From the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
-- The State of Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust recently completed a land purchase of regional significance in east-central Alabama.
During the week of Jan. 4, Forever Wild concluded a year-long negotiation for the purchase of a 3,866-acre addition to one of the state’s largest and oldest state-owned Wildlife Management Areas. Coupled with Forever Wild’s first purchase in 1994 of the Wehle Tract, the 5,400 acres acquired in these transactions have produced a tremendous boon for the region’s economy, especially in Barbour County.
The most recent Forever Wild land purchase includes approximately 3,377 acres within the Barbour County portions of the Barbour WMA, and 489 acres within the Bullock County portion of the WMA. The general area has been part of the state’s WMA system for the last three decades, and this purchase marks the largest and most significant addition to the public hunting area since its inception. Barbour WMA is one of the most heavily utilized public hunting areas in south-central Alabama, and is renowned for its progressive advances in quality deer management and the restoration of longleaf pine forests and bobwhite quail.
Also benefiting from the land purchase is the Wehle Land Conservation Center, located within the Forever Wild program’s first purchase. The Center has been the focus of many new conservation programs including seasonal exhibitions, recreational fishing, trail rides and numerous youth-oriented events. Attendance at these events has been steadily growing, which will likely lead to expansion of the programs in the near future.
In addition to completing the successful purchase of the recreational lease, Forever Wild has protected over 212,792 acres of land for long-term habitat protection and recreational use, a program which began in 1992. The lands and their interests were purchased through 74 individual transactions in 24 counties, and are managed under the principles of multiple-use. To learn more about the Forever Wild Program, visit www.alabamaforeverwild.com.