It has been an uphill battle for legislators seeking to see Buck’s Pocket State Park become the all-terrain vehicle mecca of Alabama, but Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, says its officially moving forward.
Former Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs set aside $526,996 in April 2016 to construct a 15-to-25-mile trail for all-terrain vehicles at the park, but regulations proved to be a set back as legislators and trail coordinators sought to make the trail as eco-friendly as possible.
“They have signed the contract,” Scofield said. “It’s a go.”
Scofield added that regulations can tend to put walls up and ward off progress, but in this case, Scofield said the property needs to be taken care of.
“What’s important is that it needs to environmentally sensitive,” he said. “It’s not just building trails on random property.
“With all that in mind, it was going to take a little longer, but being aware of what the property is and means to Alabamians is important in its own right.”
Alabama State Park Trails Coordinator Ken Thomas said in April that archaeological surveys had to be completed, along with a laundry list of other accommodations.
“It’s at least 60 days before the trail can even be considered,” Thomas said in April. “Then we have to take our equipment out and test the site to find the best routes. It’s going to take some time, but we are working on it. It’s a complicated process.”
ATV trails aren’t the only thing coming to Buck’s Pocket. Scofield said once the trails are in place, phase II of the project will begin, improving the campground and facilities, which should bring Buck’s Pocket back to its original glory.
“ATVs are a vast market,” Scofield said in April. “People in suburban areas are buying them and looking for a place to ride. There are a lot of people we can target. Having the ATV trail will eventually lead to getting the campground back open.
“Buck’s Pocket isn’t a huge attraction other than being a gorgeous piece of property. ATV use is banned in a lot of parks. They’re going to build ATV trails that are safe and with conservation and environmental impact in mind. It will make Buck’s Pocket unique.”
Scofield didn’t give a timeframe for when the trails would be complete. He said they were ahead of schedule, with spring being the goal.