400 Acres, Forever Wild, Inside the City!

400 Acres, Forever Wild, Inside the City!

October 8, 2014

Check out this article from today’s morning newspaper, The Dothan Eagle, announcing the city’s latest quality of life initiative.

Truly amazing – Dothan really is a progressive town; a great place to live and raise a family.

The Forever Wild Land Trust doesn’t have its name because it often appears to take that long for projects to come fruition, but the notion may not be far off.

Tuesday, however, the Forever Wild Land Trust gave its official OK for Dothan’s natural preserve inside the city limits. Plans to forge the preserve’s trails and construct trail heads can now begin.

Setting aside land for a “forever” reserve is a lengthy process. Land must be identified. Multiple landowners must come together in agreement. The Forever Wild Land Trust must be amicable to the project. There must be an appraisal, then a second appraisal, and a final look over.

Grants must be written. Plans must be drawn.

An additional element to Dothan’s effort caused a hiccup as well. Part of the Forever Wild land is owned by the City of Dothan and was previously the site of the Beaver Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Additional environmental testing was required to make sure that portion of the land is safe for walking and biking.

“Any impediments to the project are over and we’re moving forward,” said Assistant Leisure Services Director Kim Meeker, who has spearheaded the project. Meeker gave a brief update of the project during the Dothan City Commission meeting Tuesday.

The land is located between Fortner Street and Flowers Chapel Road outside Ross Clark Circle. The city donated 51 acres that was once the Beaver Creek Plant. Other landowners donated 132 acres, leaving the balance of the 392-acre project to be purchased from private landowners through the Forever Wild Trust, a state conservation program created to acquire land and preserve it for nature trails, public parks, wildlife preserves and other natural uses.

The city has about $100,000 in grant money from ADECA to help build the trails. Other money from the City of Dothan, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Forever Wild and Columbia Sportswear will be used for the trails.

Artist renderings of the proposed preserve indicate three connected trails for walking, hiking or biking. A 1-mile looped family trail is proposed off Flowers Chapel Road. A 3-mile winding looped trail is proposed for the middle of the property and a larger 5-mile winding looped trail is proposed for the east end of the property. A bridge and/or walking trail would connect each of the trails.

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