legislature (SB 258, HB 376) would create an Alabama Trails Commission
to foster widespread development and link-up of green and blue-water
trails throughout the state. Focused on health, family, economic and
tourism incentives, the bills call for the proposed commission to
coordinate local needs, goals and leadership in trail design,
operation, build-up and maintenance for hiking, biking, running,
horseback riding, motorized off-highway vehicles, and water sport.
An initiative of the Alabama Recreational Trails Advisory Board
(ARTAB), the plan was moved forward by Senator Wendell Mitchell
(Luverne) and Representative Cam Ward (Alabaster). Both legislators
have long histories in the outdoor recreation communities. An ARTAB
committee chaired by Fairhope City Council member Debbie Quinn led in
the plan’s preparation.
“This would be a first for Alabama,” said Quinn. “The Commission
would promote and coordinate recreational trail projects across an
array of organizations such as local, regional, state and federal
agencies, trail advocates, business interests, higher education centers
and non-profit organizations.” Quinn said a similar program has been
underway in Florida since 1995.
Under the proposed legislation, there would be a twelve member
Alabama Trails Commission. Five state agencies would be members:
Alabama Department of Transportation, Alabama Department of
Conservation and National Resources, Alabama Tourism Department,
Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Governor’s
Office. Other board members would represent trail users, local
government and the business community.
The legislation also calls for an Alabama Trails Commission Advisory
Board and a tax-deductible non-profit foundation to advance the Trail
Commission’s goals by fund raising and supporting recreation in
The Commission would be housed in the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
“Alabama’s diverse terrain provides some of the most splendid trails
anywhere in the nation, said ADECA Director Doni Ingram. “This
commission will help identify trails in the state and work to promote
them and encourage usage.”