Beach, swimming and fishing piers to be added at Beaver Lake in OMSP

PELHAM – Oak Mountain State Park’s Beaver Lake is getting a facelift in preparation for the summertime, said Chad Scroggins, manager of Shelby County’s Department of Development Services.

“We’re re-establishing a beach on the north side of the lake that was there in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Scroggins said. “There’s already one day use beach at Beaver Lake, but it’s in high demand and can get crowded. Re-establishing this beach will make it a lot more comfortable for everyone.”

Constructing a swimming and fishing pier, rebuilding the boat parking area and redoing the sand volleyball court on the north side of the lake are also a part of the plans. Another fishing pier will be constructed on the south side of the lake also.

To complete the project, the county dropped the lake’s water level by 8 feet. Once the project is complete in early March, Scroggins said the lake will be refilled.

While the water level is low, about 200 Christmas trees will be attached to cement blocks and dropped in the lake to create fish habitats. Fish use the Christmas trees for hiding, resting, foraging and spawning.

The project is expected to cost about $125,000, Scroggins said. The cost is being split between Shelby County and the Alabama State Parks division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We didn’t get their commitment on funding until after Amendment 2 passed,” Scroggins said.

This just goes to show how important the passage of the amendment was to state parks projects, said OMSP Superintendent Kelly Ezell. She said the she doesn’t think Alabama State Parks would’ve been able to commit to the project without the passage of the amendment.

“We’re not instantly rich, but what Amendment 2 allows us to do is plan ahead. Now we can actually make plans because we know we can count on a certain amount of money.”

Ezell said she is currently working to solidify maintenance and upgrade plans for what can be accomplished this year.

The county is also working on a second OMSP project to add more than 2 miles of hiking and biking trails that will connect the North Trail Head parking lot to the Beaver Lake parking area. The project is being funded though a $60,000 grant with a 20 percent match requirement from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Scroggins said the total cost of the project is expected to be close to the grant amount.

Although OMSP is state property, Scroggins said the county put together a master plan and in it some areas in the park that need improvement were identified.

“We’re just helping out the state because we view Oak Mountain as a valuable asset for the Shelby County community, Alabama State Parks and for the state.”

Ezell said she values the partnership Alabama State Parks has with Shelby County and surrounding communities.

“We’re very appreciative of their support,” she said.