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AL - Why we must vote to protect Alabama's state parks

Recently renovated Lodge and Convention Center located at the Guntersville State Park

By State Sen. Clay Scofield, who represents District Nine and holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Business and Economics from Auburn University, and is a farmer. Like many of you, I have such fond memories of growing up here in Alabama. I can vividly recall a number of hot summer days filled with laughter and lots of time outdoors. At Lake Guntersville State Park, nestled along the banks of the Tennessee River in Northeast Alabama, you can find the colors of the rainbow in the sunset and the crush of fall leaves. You can also witness eagles soar and some of the most beautiful views in Alabama. As Marshall County has been my home for many years, Lake Guntersville State Park holds a distinct place in my heart and mind. Protecting this memory, protecting this park, and the operation of all Alabama State Parks, is the reason I sponsored Alabama Senate Bill 260 (AL SB260) in the 2016 Regular Session. After passing the Senate and House with substantial majorities, AL SB260 will now be on the general election ballot for your consideration on November 8th as Amendment #2. The full text of Amendment #2 could be considered a little overwhelming. In plain English, Amendment #2 is our opportunity to stabilize the Alabama State Parks' finances and budget as well as allow for future planning.

If Amendment #2 passes, we'll be able to continue enjoying our traditions of fishing from the scenic Meaher State Park Pier; taking guided cave tours at Rickwood or Cathedral Caverns State Parks to see the ancient formations; and enjoying the trails at Frank Jackson State Park. While I can't decide which of Alabama's State Parks to revisit first, it's clear to me – and a number of likeminded folks that call this great state home – that support of Amendment #2 will keep state park gates open and ready for families like yours to enjoy for years to come. May all who enter as guests, leave as friends Native trees, panoramic views and the calls of songbirds welcome the millions of guests each year that visit Alabama State Parks. Here, folks can explore, relax and receive a first-hand account of the reason it's called Alabama the Beautiful. In crafting the legislation that has become Amendment #2, I was keenly aware of what's at stake if we don't protect these natural treasures. It all boils down to a responsibility to protect the land and to ensure continued service to current and future Alabamians. At Alabama State Parks, your family, my family, and the visitors who enter as guests will continue to leave as friends. In addition to beautiful landscapes, world-renowned habitats and countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, Alabama's State Parks provide a significant economic benefit to the state: approximately $375 million a year, according to the Alabama State Parks 75th Anniversary Report. Amendment #2 is our opportunity to safeguard funding to support Alabama State Parks so future generations can also have vivid memories of our Sweet Home.

State Sen. Clay Scofieldc/o Clay Scofield

John Hammontree |