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DeSoto State Park adds 157 acres adjacent to Little River

Scenic DeSoto Falls at DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne, Alabama

FORT PAYNE, AL (July 15, 2021) – The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recently completed the purchase of a 157-acre tract of land along Little River near DeSoto Falls.

The additional land expands DeSoto State Park, and it also protects critical habitat along Little River and maintains the pristine natural beauty of the DeSoto Falls area.

“The Alabama State Parks system is dedicated to preserving natural areas of our state, and that’s exactly what this land purchase accomplishes,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “DeSoto Falls is one of Alabama’s true natural wonders, and we keep it that way by preserving the area for future generations to enjoy.”

The land acquisition, known as the Little River West Fork Tract, secures more than 1,000 feet of frontage along Little River, enhancing public access to the waterway above the falls and supporting the park’s mission to enhance public recreation and interpret the natural environment. It also compliments the state ownership of land at DeSoto Falls, as well as those of nearby Forever Wild property along the West Fork of Little River.

The land purchase continues efforts to secure more land along Little River for DeSoto State Park, as well as a broader interest to make recreational improvements at the DeSoto Falls area. In addition to the recent improvements to the DeSoto Falls restrooms, the park system intends to make improvements to the swimming beach and re-pave the parking lot in 2022.

DeSoto State Park ranked as the fifth-most visited natural destination in 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Tourism, and the additional land can do nothing but enhance the park’s popularity.

Limiting development along the west fork of Little River also helps the nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve, which is located downriver from the park, and protects the natural scenery on Lookout Mountain.

“It’s definitely good news for this land to become part of DeSoto State Park,” said Angela Shugart, Executive Director of Little River Waterkeeper. “Our organization is dedicated to promoting clean water, air and healthy communities. Thousands of visitors come to Lookout Mountain ever year because of Little River, and this is another step in protecting it for generations to come.”

Commissioner Blankenship addresses local and state officials.

Local and state officials gathered at DeSoto Falls today to celebrate the recent land purchase.

“I know how much Little River and DeSoto State Park mean to the people of northeast Alabama,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville). “It’s a source of pride because of its natural beauty, and it’s also a huge driver for economic development because it draws so many tourists to the area. I’m proud of the foresight shown by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for preserving this amazing property so all Alabamians and tourists visiting our state can enjoy it for years to come.”

Gov. Kay Ivey voiced her support earlier this year for an $85 million bond issue to fund renovations at Alabama State Parks, which would help pay for a variety of upgrades such as expanding campgrounds, adding cabins and improving internet connectivity. 

If approved by voters in 2022, the $85 million bond measure will help fund other capital investments at DeSoto State Park and improve the public’s ability to enjoy outdoor recreation, as well as foster improved appreciation of the state’s waters and natural resources.

ABOUT ALABAMA STATE PARKS: The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and maintains 21 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water in Alabama. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Camping reservations can be made online at https://www.alapark.com/reservations

Learn more at www.alapark.com. Partners Pay the Way.

ABOUT DESOTO STATE PARK: Nestled atop beautiful Lookout Mountain in scenic Northeast Alabama and accented by many rushing waterfalls and fragrant wildflowers, the 3,502-acre park features kayaking, fishing, hiking, biking, cycling, primitive camping, zip-lining, rappelling, bouldering, picnicking and wildflower expeditions, as well as the 104-foot DeSoto Falls. The park also has lodging in mountain chalets, log and rustic cabins, motel rooms and an improved campground with 94 full-hookup tent and RV sites.

Learn more at https://www.alapark.com/parks/desoto-state-park

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