19 July 2005
Sen. Sessions Announces Agreementto Open Bains Gap Road at Longleaf National
Gap Road at the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife
Refuge near Anniston will be opened for public use under an agreement announced
today by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R_AL).
Bains Gap Road will
provide an eastern entrance to the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge
and improve access to the refuge's natural areas. Additionally, the road will
serve as an important evacuation route in the event of an emergency at the
Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.
"I am pleased that
we were able to work out an agreement on Bains Gap Road. The road was always
identified as the front door to the refuge, and I know that it is important to
the people of Calhoun County. I think the refuge will be even better when this
route is opened," Sessions said.
The road, which falls
under the jurisdiction of several governmental entities, will require cleaning
and surface improvements prior to its opening. Federal officials have been
negotiating an agreement to improve the road for several months.
Sessions hosted a meeting earlier this month that included
officials from the Joint Powers Authority, the Department of Interior, the Fish
and Wildlife Service and the United States Army. Officials reached an agreement
at the meeting regarding the complex jurisdictional issues surrounding the
opening. Additionally, Sessions spoke with Interior Secretary Gail Norton
regarding the project.
Details of the agreement were
finalized in a letter that was recently signed by all
"Thanks to the guidance provided by Senator
Sessions we've been able to accomplish what some had described as being
impossible but despite the obstacles, we now have a solid agreement," Pete
Conroy, JPA board member and Jacksonville State University employee, said. "Now
we can move to a deliberate process that should have this road open by the fall
The Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge, a
9,000-acre tract of land in northeast Alabama, was opened to the public on April
16, 2005, and offers a host of recreational activities including hunting, hiking
and bird watching as well as environmental education.
Sessions included an
amendment in the 2003 Defense Authorization Bill to
establish the refuge at the former Fort McClellan Army reservation. President
Bush signed the legislation into law in late 2002, and the refuge was formally
created June 1, 2003, becoming the 542nd refuge in the country. The refuge
protects the only remaining old growth mountain longleaf pine forest in the
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in
coordination with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
provide recreational activities, including hunting and wildlife
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