A Celebration Of The Black Belt

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A storied history, rich culture and fertile soil are not the only features of the Alabama Black Belt to be celebrated. The Black Belt is also an important economic driver in our state’s outdoor recreation industry. In fact, outdoor recreation in the Black Belt accounts for one-third of those economic benefits for the entire state.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey visited one of the Black Belt’s famous hunting lodges to highlight what the area means to the state. Governor Ivey joined Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship, Cade Warner of Westervelt Company and Don Wood, owner of Wilkes Creek Plantation in West Greene, Alabama. The Governor and Commissioner Blankenship also visited a wood products operation in Pickens County earlier that morning before the luncheon at Wilkes Creek Plantation where she spoke on the importance of the timber industry and inland waterways in the Black Belt, as well as the economic impact of hunting and fishing.

“Another huge economic driver in this area that we simply can’t do without is hunting and fishing,” Governor Ivey said. “Here in Alabama, hunting and fishing has a $3 billion economic impact and supports more than 25,000 jobs. In the Black Belt alone, it produces more than $1.4 billion in economic impact and pumps in a whopping $28 million to the state’s education budget. Alabama is a great place to hunt and fish, no doubt about it. And Commissioner Blankenship and his team at Conservation and Natural Resources play a major part in that.”

“Getting people to come to Alabama to give them some Southern hospitality and allow them to spend a couple of days getting to hunt and visit with the people in our state, has been very successful at bringing some of these companies to Alabama or having them expand their operations here,” said the commissioner. “We have 40 Wildlife Management Areas and 23 state fishing lakes, which provide good opportunities to fish but also provide some subsistence in these rural areas with bass, catfish, and bream. We have 285,000 acres of Forever Wild property that we manage around the state, 99 percent of which is open to the public for hunting. We have 21 State Parks. We really see an opportunity to use outdoor recreation and all the beauty God has blessed us with to recruit talent to come to our state to take the jobs. There are a lot of places that don’t have the quality of life we have here. We can use outdoor recreation to let people see what we have in Alabama. Hopefully, these people will stay, work, and raise families.”

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Fred Hunter

Fred Hunter

WBRC First Alert Meteorologist Fred Hunter was born in Alabama in the historic town of Ft. Payne. He has lived, attended school, raised his family and worked in the South all his life.