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Alabama Receives National Water Trails Designation from Interior Department

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated three new National Water Trails in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri.  The U.S. Department of the Interior is formally committing to work with state and local partners to increase water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship, and promote tourism.

Secretary Salazar said, “Restoring our nation’s rivers and expanding outdoor recreational activities on them is one of the major goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.  Through a national network of National Water Trails, we are not only connecting people to the outdoors and supporting conservation efforts for our scenic rivers, but also supporting tourism and the recreation economy in nearby communities.”

According to the written statement from Secretary Salazar, “The Alabama Scenic River Trail: The water trail begins at the point where the Coosa River enters Alabama just northeast of Cedar Bluff, and continues down the Coosa River to its confluence with the Tallapoosa near Wetumpka. From this conjunction, the trail follows the Alabama River to its junction with the Tombigbee/Warrior system just north of Mobile. It then proceeds through the Mobile River and the Tensaw-Mobile delta, along the Tensaw River and its tributaries to Mobile Bay. The trail, managed by the Alabama Scenic River Association, includes beautiful stretches of seven rivers, two creeks and one bay.”

Secretary Salazar also gave the designation to 120 miles of water way near the Georgia towns of Folkston, Waycross, and Fargo.  The new ‘Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail’ will be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and traverses alligators, black bear, egret, and sandhill crane habitat.  The cypress swamps and open watery “prairies” are part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Sec. Salazar also gave the new designation to waterways in Mississippi.  The Mississippi River Water Trail begins in Saverton, Missouri at mile marker 301, and ends at St. Louis, Missouri Riverfront at mile marker 180. The Mississippi water trail is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On Saturday, Secretary Salazar designated the Kansas River Trail as a National Water Trail. The 173-mile trail follows the Kansas River, one of the longest prairie rivers in the world. It is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

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Secretary Salazar established the National Water Trails System earlier this year as a class of national recreational trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. Secretary Salazar’s statement said, “The designation is an acknowledges not only the recreation values of the trails but also the excellent stewardship of the state, local communities and other partners who maintain their natural beauty and integrity.”

The National Park Service will provide resources and their technical expertise to work with the state and local partners to promote the development and recognition of the trails.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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