Forever Wild Program Makes Additional Public Land Purchases

Two tracts of ecologically sensitive property were recently purchased through the Forever Wild Program and the State Lands Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

In Mobile County, a 1,642-acre tract in the Grand Bay Savannah was purchased adjacent to existing Forever Wild property, which now totals 5,000 acres. “This is a unique wetlands,” said Greg Lein of the State Lands Division. “It’s a pine savannah with the largest pitcher plant bog complex in the state of Alabama. The Grand Bay Savannah is a very popular area for the Coastal Birding Trail.”

 Lein said the majority of the money for the Grand Bay purchase was provided through a $1 million grant from the National Coastal Wetlands Program through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The other tract recently purchased was 9,304 acres in Baldwin County currently in the Perdido River Wildlife Management Area, an 18,000-acre tract with 15 miles of frontage on the Perdido River. “This secures a large block of contiguous habitat along the river and the Highway 112 corridor,” Lein said. “This is currently mainly pine plantation that will be converted to its native longleaf pine habitat. The tract also provides habitat for the Atlantic white cedar along the river banks, the gopher tortoise and the indigo snake.”

Grants from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program and Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program, both administered by NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, were used to purchase the Perdido property.

The Nature Conservancy, which held the 9,304-acre tract until Forever Wild could purchase the land, owns an additional 5,000 acres in the Perdido River WMA. Lein said the division is exploring options to obtain federal funds to purchase the remaining acreage in 2007.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

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