Why It Matters: Swan Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in north central Alabama is 8,870 acres of prime wildlife habitat and a very popular public land hunting destination for waterfowlers. In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 65 and U.S. 31, the City of Decatur and TTL, Inc. are proposing several routes for a new bridge over the Tennessee River, including several routes that would cut through Swan Creek WMA and thus negatively impact wildlife habitat as well as hunting opportunities.
- Creating and maintaining public access is critical to R3 Therefore, the threat of losing opportunities provided by such an important WMA in Alabama is concerning for current and future generations of sportsmen and women.
- The City of Decatur and TTL, Inc., the city’s consulting firm on this project, released the Tennessee River Bridge Feasibility Study and are accepting comments through October 1.
- Comments can be submitted to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
While this is a concerning development for sportsmen and women, it is important to note that this is the very beginning of a long, strenuous planning process over the course of several years that the city will have to undergo. The project will still have to secure all the necessary permits, conduct National Environmental Policy Act analysis, and secure funding before even begin thinking about construction of the actual bridge. However, ensuring that sportsmen make their concerns heard is important in the planning process.
While the traffic concerns around Decatur are real and a solution is needed, it is important to protect access to Swan Creek WMA as sportsmen and women in Alabama contribute millions of dollars per year for conservation efforts through the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). While Swan Creek WMA is owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources leases the property using dollars generated through the ASCF. The greater Decatur/Huntsville metropolitan areas continue to explode with new development and subsequent population increases, which is even the more reason to protect public access so that individuals have the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the many great outdoor recreational opportunities that Alabama provides.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to be in communication with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as well as our in-state and national partners to ensure that the sportsmen’s community input is heard as this project continues to be debated.