A new group is organizing to support Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, the most bio-diverse body of water in the world.
The Alabama Delta Alliance is coming together to promote the delta, which is America’s second largest Delta at about 406 square miles, has a watershed that includes the vast majority of Alabama and has been designated a National Natural Landmark.
Individuals, organizations and businesses who want to promote and enhance the ecological wetland are coming together to organize the group.
“The Alabama Delta Alliance is a group that shares a deep appreciation for the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and the many benefits it offers the people of this state,” said Britton Bonner, chairman of the board of the Coastal Alabama Partnership. “Our goal is to build a robust, diverse coalition and effort focused solely on promoting the MTRD region —now and in the future.”
The delta is one of Alabama’s main remaining natural terrains and has been at the center of disputes between conservationists and developers and business interests.
Including parts of Baldwin, Clarke, Mobile, Monroe and Washington County, the area has a footprint that spans a huge chunk of South Alabama.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson called the initiative “an idea whose time has come.”
“The delta is a hugely untapped resource for eco-tourism,” he said.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of interconnected stream systems, floodplains, swamps, bayous, lakes and forests paint the land in the delta and create a maze of natural wonders that are home to more than 500 plant species, 300 birds, 126 fishes, 46 mammals, 69 reptiles and 30 amphibians.
“Our newly created effort will serve as a resource to further educate the public on the biological and ecological diversity of the MTRD, the expansive flora and fauna, as well as the many recreational opportunities available to all regardless of interest or income level,” said state Rep. Randy Davis, whose legislative district abuts the delta. “A major goal of our effort will be to catalog the many access points, boat ramps, trails, local businesses and other important destinations the public will want to have at their fingertips when planning a trip in the MTRD.”
One goal of the Alabama Delta Alliance is to encourage people to learn more about the delta in the hopes they will be inspired to visit the area.
The Alliance has created a new website as a tool for both visitors and residents alike, at www.alabamadelta.com, with the goal of promoting ecotourism in the area.
The website includes a history of the delta, places to visit and information about alliance and steering committee members who are committed to the area.
“Our website will be representative of the diverse people and organizations that are working with us,” said Russell Ladd, a steering committee member. “The interactive map will serve as a great resource that we can promote through social media and other digital channels, encouraging more visitation and driving ecotourism in the region.”
The organization has the support of more than 40 members from across the state and a steering committee made up of what the new alliance says are “long-time delta supporters.”
Despite concerns from conservationists who are worried about the effects of upstream dams on stream pollution, stream flow, sediment loads, a decline in fish populations and the effects of invasive plant and animal species, steering committee members are said to believe that state and local management practices are enough to protect and expand access to the MTRD region.
The alliance says that federal designations and oversight come with limitations on access and management of those properties.
The group argues that it’s important to maintain the quality of life and outdoor recreational heritage by continuing to allow the state to manage the delta.
“Our goal is to protect the many natural resources and the vast biological diversity that the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta enjoys,” Ladd added. “By getting involved in our effort, people are ensuring that we can continue to provide these important lands all throughout the region for future generations to enjoy.”