In a statement released this week, Governor Bentley announced the enhancements planned as part of the Gulf State Park Project are on schedule to be complete by 2018. Plans for the park include restoring the equivalent of 50 football fields of dunes, adding 9.5 miles of trails, creating a Learning Campus, constructing an Interpretive Center, and rebuilding the cherished Lodge.

Three projects are currently underway: dune restoration, trail network expansion, and construction of the Lodge. But park visitors won’t have to wait until 2018 to enjoy the enhancements. New trails are opening this month with many more opening by spring of 2017. And with so much to explore and learn along the trails, the park is primed to become Alabama’s Coastal Classroom.

Protecting the park’s unique ecologies through thoughtful design and education is a common thread among all the planned enhancements. From materials to innovative techniques to long-term operations, the project aims to work with nature to preserve and protect what makes this park so special.

And the environmental considerations have additional benefits for the area. Teaching initiatives through the learning campus and the park’s unique environment have the potential to make it a major ecotourism attraction. The expanded trails, diversity of overnight accommodations, and learning opportunities mean more visits to the park and a potential bolster to the shoulder seasons, benefitting the local and state economies.

To read the full announcement, click here.