MONTGOMERY — Alabama voters will decide next month whether to continue a 20-year-old program that has allowed the state to buy 220,000 acres of public land to be used for hunting, fishing, birding and other activities.
The Nov. 6 ballot represents the second time Alabama residents have been asked to vote on Forever Wild. The first was in 1992 when the state was authorized to buy wilderness lands.
Forever Wild was approved with 83 percent of votes in the 1992 referendum and has secured more than 220,000 acres for long-term public use. It uses earnings from oil and gas revenue in the Alabama Trust Fund and does not take funds from the General Fund or education budgets. Former state conservation commissioner Barnett Lawley said the program has allowed the state to buy lands for uses ranging from birding to field dog competitions.
Supporters of the referendum include environmental groups and hunters. There has been very little organized opposition to the Forever Wild extension, but some critics question whether Alabama should be buying more public land during a funding crisis that has caused some state workers to be laid off.
Mike Crow, president of the Montgomery Retriever Club, said national field trials for retrievers are being held this year on the old Department of Corrections Cattle Ranch near Greensboro, land that was obtained through Forever Wild.
“It’s one of the best properties to hold the field trials as far as retrievers are concerned,” Crow said. He said the rolling terrain, tree and brush makes it an ideal place for the dogs to show off their skills.
He said the event is an example of how Forever Wild helps economic development, saying that many motels with a 100-mile radius of Greensboro are reporting they are booked for the weekend of the national trials, Oct. 20-21.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|