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Alabama Scenic Byways
Alabama the Beautiful

A Project of Jacksonville State Univeristy's
Environmental Policy & Information Center

A Scenic Byway is a public road, street, highway, or freeway and its corridor, recognized through official declaration as a unique resource worth preserving by virtue of its intrinsic qualities.  Intrinsic qualities are the resources present along a byway that define its character, interest and appeal.  They are the places, things, and values that make a byway a special place.  The Alabama Scenic Byways program, in keeping with the National Scenic Byways Program, identifies six  types of intrinsic qualities found along Alabama's roadways: scenic, cultural, natural, archeological, historic and recreational.  A road corridor must possess at least one of these six qualities to be a recognized scenic byway.

The mission  of Alabama's Scenic Byways program is to recognize, protect, and promote our scenic byways and their natural, historic and scenic resources.

    The Scenic Byways program can do many things for Alabama.  It preserves, enhances, brings revenue, attracts tourist, brings community recognition, instills a sense of pride, provides links to our shared state history, and showcases Alabama the Beautiful to a national and an international audience.  Scenic byways aid communities by providing a mechanism to attract tourists and revenue to the local economy.

    The Department of Transportation's National Byways Study estimated that $1 billion is generated nationwide in tourist money by scenic byways programs each year.  And, according to a U.S. Travel Data Center economic study, these roads generated 920 jobs and $9 million in payroll income.  In Vermont, out of state travelers who drove Vermont Scenic Byways for the drive spent 25% more than those traveling for other reasons.  In Colorado, a majority of business owners within designated scenic byway corridors estimated a 10% increase in sales due to byway designation.  Alabamians deserve this increased tourism revenue as well.

    Scenic byways provide travelers with the opportunity to get off the beaten path and experience portions of Alabama's unique heritage.  The designation and protection of scenic byways is a way to preserve Alabama's beauty and heritage for everyone to enjoy.

Intrinsic Characteristics deemed important to Alabama's scenic byways (adopted from the National Scenic Byway Program) include:

  • Scenic - Visually beautiful or interesting, whether natural or human made.  It can include things like fields, buildings, structures, water, vegetation, distant mountains, skylines, and even sky, which constitute a view from the road that provides pleasure or inspires awe.
  • Natural - Opportunities to experience landscapes and ecological systems.  This can include shoreline, wetlands, geologic features,  prairie and natural habitat of all sorts of plants, birds and animals.  There must be minimal human disturbance of the natural ecological features or a viable plan to restore these features associated with the region.
  • Historic - Landscapes, buildings, structures, or other visual evidence of the past.  It can include concrete objects like mines, buildings, bridges, grave or burial sites.  Less tangible artifacts may include things such as traditional farming patterns, antique transportation systems, or pioneering development patterns.  Any human modification to the natural environment represents a potential historic feature, if you're willing to wait long enough.  Historic must be something that can still be seen - not just the site of something that used to be there.
  • Cultural - Distinctive expressions of local community life.  It's easy to identify traditionally recognized cultural qualities such as public art, museums, libraries, universities, and even annual festivals.  Others are less obvious, however, such as a particular  industry or resource responsible for the growth and identity of the place (for example, Enterprise, Alabama's tribute to the Boll Weevil), or continuing traditional ways of life (fishing or farming traditions, for example).  Cultural significance may be borderline historic qualities that continue to survive such as visual evidence of the unique customs, traditions, folklore, or rituals of a currently existing community.  Cultural may also represent significant civic events which occurred along the byway such as the Selma to Montgomery March.
  • Archaeological - A window into a more distant past.  Visual evidence of the unique customs, traditions, folklore, or rituals of a no longer existing human society, including artifacts, buildings ruins and trails must be present.
    Recreational - Features that are traditionally associated with public access to outdoor recreation.  This can include traditional nature based activities like canoeing, fishing or camping, but can be more as well. The route may contain recreational facilities such as a park with picnic benches and a baseball field.  The road corridor itself is used for recreation like jogging biking, roadside picnics, or direct access to recreational sites like campgrounds, lakes, state parks, trails, etc.

Environmental Policy Information Center
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Road North, Suite 246 Martin,
Jacksonville, AL 36265-1602
Telephone #: (256) 782-5681...Fax #: (256) 782-5817
All photos on this page provided by Ted White.
Site design by Laurel Design Copyright 2004


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