The Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust -- A Work in Progress
by Executive Field Representative Milton Holcombe
For a number of years the State of Alabama has allowed AKC Clubs to use the State Cattle Ranch, which was also a prison, as grounds for field trials and hunting tests. While it was nice to have this area, it was often short on cover due to grazing, and the catfish ponds didn't have much character for structuring good water tests for retrievers.
On August 12, 2008 the Cattle Ranch, which encompasses 4,240 acres, was purchased by the Department of Conservation State Lands Division and the Forever Wild Land Trust. The land is slowly being converted from pastures, catfish ponds and hay fields to land and ponds for the public to use and enjoy. This work includes improving areas for testing retrievers by providing changes of cover in the land areas and adding character to the ponds by installing peninsulas and islands. They are also setting aside and tailoring specific areas for pointing dogs and beagles.
The Forever Wild Program was established in 1992 by state constitutional amendment to provide for the purchase of public recreational lands. Since its inception the program has purchased lands for general recreation, nature preserves, additions to Wildlife Management areas and State Parks. Sixty seven tracts totaling 139,844 acres located throughout the state have been acquired.
The Black Warrior, Montgomery and North Alabama Retriever Clubs with permission from Forever Wild will be undertaking a pond remodeling project. The Clubs have selected the "Black Cow" pond to modify and make more retriever friendly. The 2012 Master National Retriever Club annual event is planned for this property.
The land, managed by Mr. Bill Mason with the help of twelve inmates, also permits fishing, handicapped hunting, and youth hunting for doves, ducks and deer. The American Kennel Club would like to thank the Forever Wild Land Trust for making these grounds available to many AKC clubs.