By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
The ribbon-cuttings to provide access to Alabama’s abundant natural resources continued last week as Governor Kay Ivey, Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship and other dignitaries officially opened the State Representative Steve McMillan Fort Morgan Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp on Mobile Bay.
The facility was named in honor of the late Rep. McMillan, who had served Baldwin County in the Alabama House of Representatives since 1980.
Governor Ivey said the reopening of the pier and renovated boat ramp is a great way to recognize a great statesman of Alabama.
“I’m honored to be here to honor Rep. Steve McMillan’s service to this area by naming this pier and boat ramp in his name,” Governor Ivey said. “For more than 40 years, Steve served with the distinction that very few can imagine. His work demonstrated his commitment to south Baldwin County, especially in the Fort Morgan area. I was sure proud to call Steve my friend. As a ‘thank you’ for the work Steve has done for Baldwin County, it’s only fitting that this boat ramp and pier bears his name. The State Representative Steve McMillan Fort Morgan Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp has been long in coming. Since before the Civil War, there has been a dock at this location.”
Governor Ivey said access to the great fishing on the lower end of Mobile Bay was sorely missed after the old pier was closed in 2014. With the new facilities, the recreational opportunities will again abound and contribute to the state’s tourism economy.
“When the old pier became hazardous and was forced to close, we understood the rebuilding of this pier was necessary,” Governor Ivey said. “Not only did we realize we had to keep Alabama history alive, but we knew this rebuild would improve the recreational use of our state’s beautiful natural resources. This new pier and boat ramp and basin will provide access to the fisheries and waterways for all. This has been a much-needed project, and I’m excited that with the help of Commissioner Blankenship and his team, a lot of other good work is going on in coastal Alabama.
“We just announced more than $47 million in National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-funded projects for this area, and there is so much more to come. It doesn’t take much to realize that Baldwin County is a whopper of a catch for our state’s tourism industry, and I fully expect that industry to grow even stronger after the opening of this boat ramp and pier. Commissioner Blankenship and I have cut ribbons at several boat ramps during the past few months, and I can’t think of a single spot any more beautiful or historic than this public access site.”
This project was funded through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) allotments from the BP oil spill in 2010. The renovated pier is L-shaped with dimensions of 305 feet by 210 feet and 40 feet wide. The pier floor is 8 feet off the surface of the water at mean tide. The boat ramp has two lanes with adjacent docks, and the fishing pier also serves to protect the basin from siltation and storms. The facility is open 24 hours with free admission.
“I am very blessed to be the Commissioner of Conservation,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “There are a lot of things we get to do around the state that are valuable to our quality of life in Alabama. Projects like building this pier and the renovations to the boat ramp by our Marine Resources Division are critical to allow enjoyment of the waters and fisheries. We also have a governor who feels that outdoor recreation and boating access are very important.
“We’ve had ribbon cuttings during the time that Governor Ivey has been in office at Demopolis, Orange Beach, Camden, Oak Mountain State Park, Bon Secour, Grand Bay, Bayou La Batre and the Mobile Causeway for public projects for boating access or public access. And that’s not the end. It’s just the beginning. There’s more to come in the next four years of Governor Ivey’s term.”