The Hamilton Campus of Bevill State Community College will soon have a new project that promises to bring opportunities for student learning, public wellness, historical preservation and community development. The college is moving forward with its Buttahatchee River Nature Trail. The development is a three-tier project which, when completed, will offer students and the Hamilton community a multi-purpose natural area that can be utilized in a number of ways.
For students, the nature trail offers an outdoor learning laboratory that can be utilized to expand the study of the natural ecosystem offered by the area. Students will also be able to take advantage of recreational and entertainment activities planned for the trail.
The entire Hamilton community can also enjoy the recreational benefits of the project. Community residents will be able to take part in the wellness benefits of the nature trail.
Historical preservation is also a key benefit of the project. The nature trail is located on the Andrew Jackson Military Road. Built near the end of the War of 1812, the road was a route from Nashville to New Orleans. Because of the proximity to the historic road, the nature trail provides a great opportunity to bring awareness to the area’s historical contributions.
"The scope of this project is an opportunity to acknowledge our local history and to preserve the land for future generations. The area is a treasure trove of historical significance and it is a unique opportunity for our community to explore its heritage,” said Rebecca Whitten, librarian for the Jasper Campus and one of the leaders of the project.
With the nature trail’s combination of historical significance, education, and recreation, the project has a unique opportunity to positively enhance the overall development of the community served by the Hamilton Campus.
“Projects like the Buttahatchee River Nature Trail at Bevill State contribute to the mission of our college in so many different ways. Not only is this another way to provide a great experience to our students, but it is also a way to make a lasting impact on one community that we serve. The positive effects this project will have on the area is something that we can hold up as an example of contributing back to those we serve,” said Dr. Larry Ferguson, president of Bevill State Community College.
The Nature Trail project has been a long developing one for the College. Dr. Ferguson said that the plan has stalled a few times in the past, but the desire to see the project succeed has never faltered and has been galvanized from the support it has received from key college personnel including Dr. Greg Taylor, division Chair and Biology Instructor at the Hamilton Campus and Whitten.
“The College’s administration appreciates the enthusiasm and leadership of Dr. Taylor and Ms. Whitten on this project. Both have been very tenacious in their leadership and vision. Through their work with other employees of the College and business and community leaders, we are going to make this project a reality,” said Dr. Ferguson.
The cooperation among the College, business and community leaders was key to moving forward explained Dr. Taylor. “I want to thank members of our project committee including: Michael Avery of the Alabama Forestry Commission; Mrs. Kacy Cobb of Hamilton High School; Mike Duke of the Hamilton Area Boy Scouts; Dr. Russell Howton of Bevill State; Mary Hyche of the Kemp Foundation; Paul Kennedy of the Walker Area Community Foundation; Julie Kladke of Bevill State; Britton Lightsey of Alabama Power; Rodney Tice of Bevill State and The Honorable Mayor Wade Williams of Hamilton.”
The first tier of the project has been completed. It included clearing a path on the military trail on the campus using tread light techniques, providing Wi-Fi access throughout the trail, and “keying”, or identifying, 20 different trees along the trail. Plans to implement the phases of the next two tiers of the project are set to begin this fall.