Alabama State Parks are Vital to Alabama’s Economy and Biodiversity

Hannah Shedd, Contributing Columnist

Alabama State Parks are essential in maintaining Alabama’s biodiversity and recreational areas, but they are constantly threatened by funding issues.

The Alabama State Parks system began its work in 1927 after the introduction of the State Land Act, which paved the way for the formation of Alabama’s 25 state parks. Since its creation, though, the development and continuation of the Alabama State Parks system has wavered due to insufficient funding. 

On May 24, Alabama residents voted on the Support the State Parks Amendment, which authorizes “the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds […] of up to $85,000,000.” Those bonds fund efforts like maintenance, renovation, acquisition and construction in Alabama’s state parks.

While the amendment passed, it will only go so far in preserving, maintaining and acquiring land that desperately requires protection. The Alabama State Parks system requires continued support from residents to reach their potential.


Alabama’s State Parks Benefit Everyone

Whether residents prefer hiking, fishing, swimming, biking or camping, Alabama State Parks offer outdoor recreational activities for any nature enthusiast. Besides shielding recreational land from development, the parks also protect native flora and fauna. 

Many Alabama residents frequently visit Alabama’s state parks, but others could care less about their recreational value. Regardless of one’s preference or appreciation of nature, Alabama’s state parks benefit everyone through natural resources, jobs and education initiatives.

While not everyone may desire recreational time in nature, Alabama State Parks are tasked with protecting necessities derived from natural resources including food, water and shelter. 

Those natural resources support our economy. In fact, natural resources make up one of an economy’s three factors of production, along with labor and capital. If any one of these factors is lacking, production becomes stagnant.

Natural resources are protected by Alabama’s state parks, making them vital to the economy. Additionally, the Alabama State Parks system creates a plethora of jobs, which help lower unemployment rates.

Beyond natural resources, state parks also educate the public so they are enjoyed in an informed manner. Without the unified governance of the state parks system, natural resources could be used erroneously, which could result in the abolition of these necessities altogether.


Supporting State Parks

There are many ways to support and advocate for the protection and prosperity of our state parks. While it may seem like an extraneous task where only some people have the agency for change, every individual impact can create positive outcomes.

Advocating for bipartisan funding and support legislation in Alabama’s state parks allows effective change to be implemented. In 2016, the Alabama State Parks Amendment was passed to keep  funds properly allocated within the system. Prior to this amendment, the Alabama State Parks system’s funds could be siphoned to satisfy other needs of the state government. 

Without legislation like this and the Support the State Parks Amendment, Alabama’s state parks would be unable to protect necessary natural resources and recreational areas. Individuals can advocate effectively by building public awareness, organizing rallies and maintaining dialogue with policymakers. 

Another way to assist the state parks is financially supporting them through park visits and donations. The Alabama’s state parks website provides details to help plan visits, including activities and trails. Park visits are inexpensive, so everyone can enjoy their beauty. 

While the low entry costs allow for better accessibility, Alabama State Parks use them to generate their own revenue. These fees sometimes fall short of the funds needed for upkeep. 

Donating to the Alabama State Park Foundation is an impactful method of individually supporting Alabama state parks. Whether directly donating or purchasing an Alabama State Parks car tag, Donations are essential to the continuation of the Alabama State Parks system. 

Additionally, there are many ways to volunteer in state parks. Some people volunteer for cleanups, such as the Alabama Coastal Cleanup in Gulf State Park. Others volunteer as campground hosts or through group volunteering. Each form of volunteering is instrumental to supporting the mission of the Alabama State Parks system. 

It is vital that we protect and support our state parks because, whether we realize it or not, they are protecting and supporting us.