The importance of recreation and the state’s extraordinary outdoor amenities, including The Preserves, was the focus of a recent event featuring Gov. Kay Ivey, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Alabama Power officials.
The event was at Flat Rock Park on Lake Harris in Lineville, one of Alabama Power’s 60 Preserves sites across the state. The Preserves are free recreational sites that provide hiking trails, fishing piers, boat launches and numerous amenities for Alabamians and visitors to enjoy.
“The economic impact of boating, fishing and outdoor recreation on these lakes is tremendous for communities like Wedowee and Randolph County,” Ivey said. “I appreciate the good job the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources does managing the fisheries of our state and working with great partners like Alabama Power and the Alabama Legislature to provide quality boating access sites to get our people out on the water.”
State Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship emceed the festivities. Also participating were Alabama Power Executive Vice President of External Affairs Zeke Smith, state Sen. Randy Price and other state and local officials.
“I commend Commissioner Blankenship and his team as they work in communities like this one to build boat ramps that can host big state and regional tournaments around our state,” Ivey said. “The thousands of people that come to these events get to enjoy our well-managed fisheries. They also help support the surrounding communities.”
Blankenship stressed the importance of public access to recreation and the state’s natural wonders.
“We have such beautiful lakes and beautiful outdoors in Alabama,” Blankenship said. “For people to be able to have access to that is so important. The Preserves you have here on Harris Reservoir, plus the ones on Lake Martin and other places around the state, really give people the opportunity to get out, to enjoy the water, enjoy the trees and the great outdoors, and it really means a lot for the quality of life for people, especially in these rural communities.”
The event was held under a custom gazebo, “The Perch,” constructed in the Black Belt region using local Osage orange wood. Preserves sites tap into nature and local culture by borrowing certain elements and using Alabama makers.
Smith thanked Ivey and Blankenship for their partnership to help keep Alabama lakes safe, accessible and among the most beautiful in the nation.
“We created The Preserves on protected lands to do just that – to preserve and build on the great natural resources that we have here in the state of Alabama,” Smith said.
Smith shared highlights about Alabama’s unique outdoor amenities and how they add to residents’ standard of living and support tourism.
“You think about the richness we have in this state and its natural resources. We lead the nation in navigable waterways, roughly two-fifths of our state is forested and our water mass per mile leads our neighbors,” Smith said. “We have a rich abundance of natural resources, and we see it in the outdoor recreation activities we have in Alabama. We want to continue to do our part as a company to lean into that strength.”
He said amenities such as The Preserves and other outdoor recreation infrastructure can help lure high-skilled workers and attract business. That is a key finding of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution report for the Alabama Innovation Commission, created by Ivey. The report states that Alabama’s natural beauty and range of outdoor recreational opportunities can help drive an innovation economy. The full Innovate Alabama report and recommendations can be found here.