Alabama state parks getting boost from new partnership, governor announces details

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FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, file photo, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey visits for homecoming festivities during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Alabama and Arkansas, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she plans to sign agreements Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 for two privately built prisons, despite lawmakers’ complaints about the pricetag and lack of public transparency and warnings from advocacy groups that such prisons won’t address chronic violence and severe staffing woes.(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey joined the Alabama State Parks Foundation to make a major announcement on Thursday at the Oak Mountain State Park.

Ivey was joined by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship, and Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, to announce a public-private partnership benefitting the state parks system.

The governor spoke about an $80 million bond issue for park improvements that must be approved by voters through a constitutional amendment in 2022 if the state legislature approves it this session.

“Alabamians love and cherish the State Parks, and we must make sure they are maintained and available for generations to come,” Ivey said. “I support the use of state bonds to make the needed enhancements throughout the state parks system.”

In addition, the non-profit Alabama State Parks Foundation announced the launch of its corporate giving campaign with a goal of raising an additional $14 million for park improvements.

The Alabama State Parks Foundation (ASPF) announced pledges of $250,000 by Buffalo Rock Company and $100,000 from the Alabama Power Foundation. The ASPF set a goal of raising $14 million in corporate donations in the next five years.

“Since the creation of the Alabama State Parks Foundation in 2018, we have worked to improve and enhance our State Parks, and our corporate giving campaign is another significant and important step for our organization,” Alabama State Parks Foundation President Dr. Dan Hendricks said. “I also applaud and thank Governor Ivey for her visionary leadership and support of the State Parks system.

The announcement took place at the Oak Mountain State Park, which was recently damaged by a tornado on March 29. Several large trees fell during the storm and several structures on the lower portion of Oak Mountain Lake were damaged.

Nearby Flip Side Watersports Park also suffered an estimated $25,000 worth of damage. Flip Side rents paddleboats, kayaks, and operates an aquatic park during the summer.

“Alabama’s State Parks remain one of our greatest treasures, and Gov. Ivey’s visionary leadership will make sure that treasure is protected for the next generation and the generation to follow that,” Alabama State Parks Foundation President Dr. Dan Hendricks said.

The Alabama DNR maintains around 48,000 acres of land and water in 21 state parks across Alabama. Visitor fees and support from local communities help fund the majority of the operations.

CBS 42 Reporter Marina Bach will have the full story on The News at 6 p.m.

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