These areas consist of trails, gazebos, benches, interpretive signs and pollinator plots. From hiking, and biking to bird-watching, The Preserves are core to the Alabama Power ideal of merging nature with crafting special places.
“These lands allow people to explore, learn and grow a deeper appreciation of our state’s ecology and natural beauty. They allow our citizens to access and enjoy our lakes. They are inclusive and open to all,” said Ed Windsor, recreation development assistant with Alabama Power. “The Preserves project is unique in that it gives us a chance to take existing areas around lakes and create a space for residents to not only learn about and enjoy nature but also make memories and see the importance of protecting our environment.”
Lake Harris now has The Preserves at Little Fox Creek, located off Alabama Highway 48 between Lineville and Wedowee. This site, already home to a public use boat ramp and Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, will now feature an enhanced trail system totaling 5 miles. The site is managed in partnership with the Lake Wedowee Property Owners Association.
Additionally, the area will have two pollinator plots, (see samples below) interpretive signs, benches, a boardwalk and two gazebos for the public to enjoy.
The existing recreation area on Lay Lake, named Beeswax Creek Park, is located off Alabama Highway 145 in Columbiana on Beeswax Creek Park Road. Recent upgrades include a 2.75-mile trail system complete with a pollinator plot, an additional launching pier, interpretive signs, gazebos and benches. This site is managed in partnership with Shelby County Parks and Recreation Board.
Lake Martin’s new recreation area, Nature’s Way, is located on the southeastern corner of the reservoir, at the end of Old Tree Road in Dadeville. This area will feature a trail system totaling 4 miles with gazebos, interpretive signs, a boardwalk and benches.
These trails are open for hiking, running, bird-watching and biking. All these public recreation areas allow pets on leashes.
These sites come after the successful launch of three other new and upgraded sites last year.
“Continuing to provide these improvements in our communities is Alabama Power’s way of enhancing our state’s natural resources to give back in hopes that families will enjoy them more,” said Stephen Posey, recreation development assistant for Alabama Power.
The upgrades have been made possible through the help of businesses and contractors, like Foothills Contracting of Uniontown.
Alabama Power’s recreation team is working with Foothills Contracting to build the gazebos and kiosks for these public use areas.
“While traditionally used for fencing, this wood will provide a long-lasting structure with an incredible color and grain that will set it apart from anything else we have found in the state,” said Sage Coley, vice president of Foothills Contracting.
Foothills Contracting constructed the gazebos and kiosks with a unique and long-lasting type of wood known as Osage Orange.
“This was our first time building for a customer like Alabama Power, but it has been great seeing a company invest time and money to give back to the community and the kids. These playgrounds, trails and gazebos will be a great addition to the state’s lakes,” said Glynward Coley, owner of Foothills Contracting.
Alabama Power will continue to build The Preserves brand and make improvements to recreation sites on Alabama Power reservoirs. The Preserves project will focus on upgrades at more lakes in 2020, starting at Lake Jordan.
This story originally appeared in Shorelines magazine.