Outdoor Alabama Expo Scheduled for March 25 at Madison County Lake

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in conjunction with the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel kicks off the first of three Outdoor Alabama Expos with the first expo at Madison County Public Fishing Lake in Huntsville, Ala. on March 25, 2006 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The expos celebrate the 2006 Year of Outdoor Alabama.

The Outdoor Alabama Expo is a hands-on event for every member of the family.  Participants can enjoy outdoor recreation and learn about conservation through a variety of how-to sessions.  Experts will help introduce newcomers to activities such as fishing, rock climbing and wildlife watching. All equipment is provided, and admission is free.

“We are thrilled that Alabama Bureau of Tourism designated 2006 as the Year of Outdoor Alabama and partnered with us to offer three Outdoor Alabama Expos.  Considering the time pressures on today’s family, we are helping families connect while they enjoy exciting adventures together,” says Barnett Lawley, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner. “Attending an Outdoor Alabama Expo is a great outing for families, and it’s free.”

Fishing will be the spotlighted event at the March 25 expo. For example, a portion of Madison County Lake will be sectioned off for a Kids Fishing activity.  Expo visitors will also enjoy a fish- touch tank containing live fish and other aquatic species and an educational fish-art activity. Canoeing and kayaking lessons will also be offered.

“Nature-based recreation is a significant part of tourism in our state,” says Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel. “We encourage residents and travelers to visit one of the Outdoor Alabama Expos in 2006 and learn a new outdoor activity.”

Additional activities offered at the expo include a rock-climbing wall, archery activities, a laser-shot course, as well as informational exhibits from a variety of tourism organizations including the North Alabama Birding Trail.

The second expo will be held in south Alabama in Spanish Fort at the Historic Blakeley State Park on April 22, 2006.

Regional Expos Culminate with the Outdoor Alabama Expo
at Oak Mountain State Park on September 30, 2006

The Outdoor Alabama Expo at Oak Mountain State Park will be the largest of all three expos. Oak Mountain is opening its gates to residents and visitors to experience an admission-free day in one of Alabama’s most popular state parks.

The Outdoor Alabama Expo at Oak Mountain will be larger than the other two expos.  It includes an “Outdoor Alabama Retail Center” where visitors can browse and shop for the latest in outdoor sports gear. Dozens of exhibitors will provide hands-on activities including canoeing, kayaking, hunting, rock climbing and fishing, as well as music and concessions.

“It will attract visitors from across the state and the Southeast,” says Sentell. “The Birmingham expo is the grand finale to a year that has celebrated Alabama’s outdoor wonders.”

Alabama’s natural resources provide a variety of benefits such as clean air and water, habitats for wildlife and unlimited opportunities for outdoor adventure and recreation. The economic benefit is valuable to Alabama as well. According to a recent survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the economic impact of nature-based recreation in Alabama is $4.3 billion.  Nature-based recreation contributed to the 8 percent increase in Alabama tourism dollars in 2004.

The Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel is mandated by the Alabama Legislature to attract tourists to the state. According to the Center for Business and Economic Development at Auburn University in Montgomery, more than 20.6 million people visited the state during 2004, resulting in a $7 billion economic impact. The Southeast Tourism Society named the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel the State Tourism Organization of the Year for 2004 and again in 2005, distinguishing ABTT as the only state tourism organization to have won the award for two successive years. For more information, visit www.800alabama.com or call 1-800-ALABAMA.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes the statewide stewardship and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy them. The department also advises the state government on management of freshwater fish, wildlife, marine resources, waterway safety, state lands, state parks and other natural resources. This includes the administration, management and maintenance of 22 state parks, 23 public fishing lakes, three freshwater fish hatcheries, 34 wildlife management areas, two waterfowl refuges, three nature centers, two wildlife sanctuaries, a mariculture center with 35 ponds and 645,000 acres of trust lands. Other departmental functions include maintenance of a State Land Resource Information Center and administration of the Forever Wild land-acquisition program. For more information, visit www.outdooralabama.com. 

Directions from Huntsville to the Outdoor Alabama Expo at Madison County Public Fishing Lake:

Take U.S. Highway 72 east for five miles, then left on Ryland Pike Road for six-and-a-half miles (through Maysville) to County Lake Road. Go right one mile to Madison County Lake.