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Conservationists get 9,300 acres on Perdido

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Two Alabama land conservation programs have purchased 9,300 acres along the Perdido River, one of the world’s best remaining “black water” rivers.

The Nature Conservancy of Alabama sold the land to the state Wednesday and the Forever Wild board approved the purchases Thursday.

David Dean, a lawyer for the Alabama Department of Conservation, said the state land division and the state’s Forever Wild program bought the land for $13.3 million.

The river runs 60 miles along the border of Florida and Alabama before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Land managers said much of the land purchased is lined by original, uncut Atlantic white cedar swamp, a rare habitat.

A second phase is planned that would bring the total land on the Alabama side of the river to more than 14,000 acres.

Florida is working to conserve the other side of the river so that it could become one of the few rivers that is preserved from headwaters to mouth. The river rises in Escambia County and becomes the Florida-Alabama border as it travels 60 miles to Perdido Bay.

Black water means it’s tannic water that is tea-colored and acidic. Such rivers are uncommon outside the coastal areas of the South.

Federal funding

The land purchases, which were divided into three tracts, were partly funded by federal matching grants. The Nature Conservancy had the money when International Paper Corp. began selling all its timber land last spring and bought it immediately.

Chris Oberholster, conservation programs director for the Nature Conservancy, said the land boasts some of the state’s most rare habitat types.

The Perdido River corridor may eventually link to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of Alabama’s other conservation priorities.

The state also bought 1,642 acres in Mobile County with a coastal wetlands grant this week.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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