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
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.