Thanks to a three-year master plan to provide ecologically sensitive enhancements to the Gulf State Park, residents of Baldwin County, Ala., soon will be able to enjoy a more eco-friendly, economically sustainable, and educational park.
Upon finishing the recently unveiled plan, the 6,150-acre park will have extended trails, new information centers, and more natural habitats for wildlife. Dune restoration, the first enhancement on the project's docket, is expected to debut in early 2016.
Not only will the project restore park facilities damaged by Hurrican Ivan in 2004, but it will also bring in an estimated $68.2 million in revenue for the Gulf Shores and the local community per year, according to the project fact sheet.
The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project will be financially sustained by a special fund dedicated to the project, and will cost nothing for taxpayers. BP contributed $85.5 million to the project to compensate for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, that caused the loss of millions of beach, boating, and fishing trips along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
The master plan consists of three phases. Phase one will focus on the proposed trail network expansion, learning campus, interpretive center, dune restoration, and the re-construction of the state-owned lodge.
Phase two identifies additional opportunities to further strengthen the economic potential of the park, including additional trail enhancements, campground improvements, golf course conversion and construction of a park tram.
Phase three will explore long-term opportunities for the park, including enhancement of trails, picnic areas, educational facilities, and additional accommodations for overnight visitors.
The plan was finalized by the master plan team after gathering feedback from over 2,600 online survey respondents, community leaders, environmental groups, stakeholders, and three community forums during the past year.
The Project is being executed by the University of Alabama, on behalf of the Office of the Governor of the State of Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natura Resources. Sasaki Associates have been retained as master planners. Architects contributing to the project include Architecture Works, Lake Flato, and Rabun Rasche Rector Reese.
Watch the project video here: