The Shelby County Chamber hosted “An Update on Oak Mountain State Park” with District Naturalist Scottie Jackson and Park Naturalist Lauren Massey.
During the March 30 program at the Pelham Civic Complex, Massey gave a brief history of the park, which began with 940 acres of land in 1927 near the Peavine Falls area and expanded to what is now the Tranquility Lake.
In the early 1930s, Civilian Conservation Corps Company 487 began work on the park project, but was later called in to build Yosemite National Park.
OMSP was originally intended to be a national park, but much of the funding was diverted following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Works Progress Administration then stepped in to help complete the park.
In 1943, the National Park Service deeded 8,000 acres to what is now OMSP, which now totals 11,584 acres, making it the largest park in the state. With the expansion to 1,644 acres at the end of 2021, Massey said they are now able to protect over 1,000 acres of important endangered species and beautiful habitats.
“OMSP has incredible natural resources and our biodiversity is phenomenal,” Massey said. “Alabama ranks #4 for biodiversity in the United States and #1 east of the Mississippi. We have so much life in any given area – we are actually considered the American Amazon. We have scientists from all over the world who come to Alabama to study our natural resources because we are so incredibly rich in biodiversity.
Located 17 miles from Birmingham city centre, OMSP offers a plethora of activities including fishing, camping, horse riding, beaches, an archery park, demonstration farm, boating boating, hiking, golfing, geocaching, mountain biking, bird watching and more. Annual events include Fire on the Water, a harvest festival in the fall, and an Easter egg hunt in the spring.
OMSP is also home to the Alabama Interpretive Center and Wildlife Center. The park’s educational opportunities include field trips, animal encounters, and educational workshops.
During the 2022 World Games in July, OMSP will host canoeing, orienteering and water skiing
For more information or to donate to the Alabama State Parks Foundation, visit asparksfoundation.org.