GULF SHORES – Governor Robert
Bentley on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 231, which will lead to improvements at
Gulf State Park, including a lodge and meeting facility that will help attract
"My vision is for a lodge that
everyone can visit and enjoy," Governor Bentley said. "I want more
families to come to the Gulf State Park and explore our natural resources.
I want the Alabama Gulf Coast to have a facility that can host meetings
and gatherings that currently have to be held in other states. This lodge
will help us share the natural beauty of the Alabama Gulf Coast with more
people while also supporting more jobs and strengthening the coastal economy."
Improvements to Gulf State Park
are part of a series of proposed Gulf Coast restoration projects announced by
Governor Bentley earlier this month. Funding for the projects will come
from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration process.
The projects were negotiated with BP and Alabama's federal and state
partners as part of the ongoing recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon
explosion and oil spill. The projects were approved by the NRDA Trustee Council
Approximately $85.5 million in
NRDA funding is allocated for Gulf State Park enhancements. From that
total, roughly $58 million is set aside for the lodge and meeting facility.
More than $27 million is allocated for a series of environmental improvements
throughout the park.
Those environmental improvements
include an environmental research and education facility for Alabama students,
trail development and enhancement in the park, dune restoration along the
park's beachfront and the establishment of a coastal ecosystems interpretive
In addition to the Gulf State Park
improvements, other recently-announced early restoration projects include a
living shoreline project in Baldwin County as well as oyster reef restoration
in Mobile County. Additional early restoration projects include the Marsh
Island Restoration Project, the Alabama Dune Restoration Cooperative Project
and "Restoring the Night Sky" – a project that will reduce artificial lighting
impacts on nesting habitats for sea turtles. Many of the environmental
injuries from the spill are still being assessed. Based on those
assessments, future projects are expected to continue the ongoing environmental
restoration of the Coast.
Senator Trip Pittman and
Representative Steve McMillan sponsored the legislation that establishes a
framework for the lodge and meeting facility.
"This bill establishes a
transparent system of developing a good project for the Gulf State Park, a
project that will support tourism and allow us to share this wonderful resource
with more visitors," Senator Pittman said. "I am excited about what this
project will mean, not only for the Gulf Coast but also for all of Alabama."
The lodge itself is still in the
conceptual stage. It will be designed in an environmentally-friendly
manner in order to compliment the coast and the surrounding park. The
lodge is expected to include visitor orientation and interpretive exhibits in
public spaces in order to share the history of the Alabama Gulf Coast with
"This will be a tremendous benefit
to the Gulf Coast and to the entire state," Representative McMillan said.
"That will be a facility that so many Alabamians will enjoy. I am
pleased with the provisions that assure the public's right-to-know and a transparent
process as we continue with this vital project. I'm thrilled to see this
project moving forward."
Any net revenues generated by the lodge and meeting facility will support the work of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The department manages the Alabama State Parks system. The system is a network of more than 20 parks designed to provide quality recreation services and resources to the public throughout the state.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Governor's Press Office
1720 Valley View Drive