Alabama officials announced plans Saturday at three sites in Walker and Cullman counties to improve access to the Mulberry and Sipsey Forks of the Black Warrior River.
The projects are the result of $3 million the state received from a lawsuit settlement last year against Tyson Farms over an illegal dumping of sewage at the company’s Hanceville facility. which killed around 200,000 fish and damaged the river’s ecosystem.
Related: Tyson Farms to pay $3 million for spill that killed 200,000 fish in Mulberry Fork
Officials visited the three sites on Saturday to make the announcements.
“I’m excited to see what’s happening here and at the other sites to get people outdoors,” Chris Blankenship, the state’s conservation and natural resources commissioner, said during the announcement. at Forks in the River near Sipsey. “I think that will be key to growing our economy, to bringing workers here.
“More than anything, I just want to see people fishing off that pier and having fun and seeing kayaks and paddleboards coming down. I think it excites me the most when I see this because it’s great for people, creates business and commerce and it gives our state a leg up on some of the other communities.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit against Tyson on behalf of the state.
“These community improvement projects are the result of dedicated teamwork by the legal staff of the Attorney General’s Consumer Interests Division and our partners at the Alabama Department of Conservation and the Department of Management of the Alabama Environment,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement. “As I said when we announced this settlement last August, this is another example of a well-done consumer protection case – the money is going exactly where it should be – not into the coffers of the state or an outside lawyer, but in the affected areas. It is all the more gratifying to finally see these recreational access projects come to life for the benefit of the affected communities.
The projects announced on Saturday:
- Forks in the River, near Sipsey: Expand the parking lot and build a dock, pavilion and toilets.
- Access to the town of Colony: Build a gravel road and parking area, which will give local residents direct access to the river for the first time.
- Garden City Park: Cleaned up the riverfront with a new kayak launch area, added restrooms and created a hiking trail.
Officials said other projects are in the planning stages and will be funded with the settlement money, but will be announced later.