DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. – Bird watchers on Dauphin Island are more likely to spot migratory birds stopping to rest or nest thanks to a new wildlife viewing area that opened Thursday (Oct. 5).
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier cut the ribbon on the new viewing pier created at Alonzo Landing, a narrow piece of land formerly littered with abandoned boats. Officials from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Firestone Complete Auto Care, which were partner organizations in the habitat restoration project, also participated in the event.
“The people of Dauphin Island are incredibly grateful to be the beneficiaries of this project,” Collier said. “Every year, people who come here as visitors are more interested in seeing the natural side of our beautiful island. This habitat restoration is good for the environment, good for tourism and good for the people of Dauphin Island.”
Along with local Boy Scout volunteers from the island, the project partners all contributed money or manhours toward the Alonzo Landing habitat. The restoration included removal of beached boats, the installation of erosion control devices and native grasses intended to expand the bird habitat, and the construction of a viewing walkway for birdwatchers.
“Years of erosion from boat wash and storms took a toll on Alonzo Landing,” said LaDon Swann, director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. “The support and assistance that Firestone Complete Auto Care and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources gave this project provides us a new way to view and appreciate this special area.”
The new habitat’s viewing walkway was financed by a combination of grants from Firestone Complete Auto Care and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“Our company is honored to have played a key role in building this walkway and restoring Alonzo Landing to its natural state,” said John Sheerin, retail environmental manager for Firestone Complete Auto Care. “We are proud to know that residents and visitors to this beautiful place now have a new way to view and understand its important role in the environment.”
Dauphin Island’s economy relies heavily on bird-watching tourists. It was designated a top Gulf Coast bird watching spot by the Nature Conservancy, and is also home to a 164-acre Audubon bird sanctuary.
“The state of Alabama is proud to support the Alonzo Landing habitat,” said Carl Ferraro, Natural Resource Planner for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “By providing Coastal Zone Management funding to the Town of Dauphin Island and other communities, the state is able to support ongoing efforts to provide public access to coastal resources. This partnership is a perfect example of such an effort.”
The restored Alonzo Landing habitat is located at one of the busiest areas on Dauphin Island, near four boat ramps and a dock for the Fort Morgan Ferry, which carries more than 70,000 passengers a year to the island.
About the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium:
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium supports scientific research, education and outreach programs to foster the conservation and sustainable development of oceanic and coastal resources for the benefit of both the economy and the environment.
About Firestone Complete Auto Care:
Firestone Complete Auto Care™ is owned and operated by BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC (BFRC). Technicians perform part repairs and replacements, routine scheduled maintenance services, and a variety of diagnostic services covering major systems within a vehicle. To learn more about driving tips and maintenance or Firestone Complete Auto Care locations, visit www.FirestoneCompleteAutoCare.com.
About BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC (BFRC):
BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC (BFRC) is headquartered in Bloomingdale, Ill., and operates the largest number of company-owned automotive retail generalist stores in the world—more than 2,200 consumer and commercial vehicle service and tire locations across the United States and Canada—including Firestone Complete Auto Care™, TiresPlus™, ExpertTire, Wheel Works, and GCR Tire Centers store locations. Credit First National Association and Firestone Complete Fleet Care operations are also part of BFRC. BFRC is a member of the Bridgestone Americas family of companies.
About ADCNR-State Land Division-Coastal Section:
The ADCNR-State Land Division-Coastal Section provided funding for this project through a grant provide by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (as amended), administered by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The DCNR-SLD Coastal Section is responsible for the implementation of the Alabama Coastal Area Management Program which seeks to balance conservation and preservation of coastal resources with sustainable economic development.