Alabama#039;s beauty should be protected

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2004

The "Alabama the Beautiful Act" is a bill I sponsored in the 2000 annual legislative session.

This legislation set up a Scenic Byways program that is designed to locate and recognize the most notable historic, recreational, cultural and archeological places in Alabama.

We live in a beautiful state, and I promoted this legislation to capture more tourism by touting our beautiful areas and natural resources.

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The start-up part of the Scenic Byways program has taken almost three years to develop but we are now getting into "full swing" with the objectives of the Act.

This month we held an important meeting of the oversight committee, of which I am chairman, during which we approved our first Scenic Byway, the Alabama Coastal Connection.

This is a proposed route along the Gulf Coast that goes from Grand Bay in Mobile County to Orange Beach and up to Daphne in Baldwin County.

It carries you through the heart of the seafood industry, through the beautiful Gulf Beaches and by the Grand Hotel in Fairhope.

The Committee thought this to be a fitting selection for our first project.

In addition to the selection of the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, the committee approved three roadways to participate in a pilot project for future development as Scenic Byways.

Included in this group is a project in our district located near the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course just outside of Greenville.

Before the legislation set up a formal procedure to inventory and recognize Alabama's Scenic Byways, a number of corridors had been developed through the years that fit the formal criteria.

These include the Lookout Mountain Parkway in North Alabama, the Bankhead National Forest and the Sipsey Wilderness Area in North and West Alabama, and a corridor that travels along some of Blount County's back roads.

The federal government has also designated the historic trail from Selma to Montgomery as a civil rights attraction.

As each scenic byway is designated, they will eventually appear on the annual official Alabama Highway map that is distributed to all tourists through our welcome centers.

If you know of an attractive spot in Alabama that fits into the categories I have mentioned above, please send me that information at P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049 and provide a person's name who would be a principal contact to discuss the possibility of that site being included as an Alabama Scenic Byway.

I have the privilege as serving as the chairman of a ten person committee set up by the statute to designate Scenic Byways, and all of us are extremely interested in carrying out the mission of this legislation.

I am excited about the possibilities of using this program to make the many resources in our beautiful state known to citizens throughout the country.

As Robert Frost wrote, "two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

If we can direct our citizens and our visitors to some of these roads less traveled, I think it will be an inspiration to them and very beneficial to our state.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.