Ward’s recreation bill awaits governor’s signature

A Cam Ward-sponsored recreational bill is awaiting signature by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley after it passed both houses of the State Legislature.

If signed into law, the bill, which was sponsored by Ward, R-Alabaster, and Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, would establish the Alabama Trails Commission.

The commission would be a division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, and would coordinate designing, operating and building trails for hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, off-road vehicles and water sports across the state.

“Senator Mitchell and I share a love for the outdoors in Alabama, and that’s why we authored this legislation,” Ward wrote in a press release. “Our objective was to offer Alabama families and tourists a healthy, safe way to have fun while enjoying the beauty of the state.

“Eco-tourism has the potential to economically jump start many rural areas of Alabama,” Ward added.

The trails commission will be composed of 12 members, who will come from the Alabama Department of Transportation, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism and the Department of Economic and Community affairs.

Trail users, local government officials and business owners will also be represented on the board. The legislation will also establish a non-profit organization to raise money for the commission.

“Areas such as Oak Mountain State Park will really benefit in the long term, because this legislation would offer great state assistance in maintenance and development of existing hiking trails at the park,” Ward wrote.