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Scenic trail on Coosa-Alabama system a boost for ecotourism

ANNISTON (AP) — A 631-mile scenic river trail from northeast Alabama to Mobile on the Coosa-Alabama river system could generate ecotourism dollars, travel industry officials say.

The project proposed by Fred Couch of Anniston is slated for completion next June.

With 19 counties adjacent to the river corridor, Alabama's rivers seem to be an untapped resource for ecotourism, Couch said.

Eleven resolutions have been passed by local governments throughout the state in support of the trail project.

Visitors along the trail also might gain a greater appreciation for water quality in Alabama rivers, said Calhoun County Commissioner Robert Downing.

Downing said he has been encouraged by the response about the project throughout the county and the state.

Couch and members of the nonprofit Alabama Scenic River Trail group are collecting information about stops along the river for brochures.

He said about $150,000 remains to be raised to pay for signs along the river, including printing costs and upgrades at dam sites to allow portages, or navigational routes around the dam in order to reconnect with the river.

The group has applied to be a nonprofit organization, Couch said.

Grey Brennan, marketing manager for the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel, calls the scenic river tour an ambitious project that is consistent with state plans to promote natural waterways.

"By linking these rivers together as a single trail, they become easier to promote to vacations, especially those that are out of state," he said.

Brennan said there will be different types of people who will use the trail.

"The outdoor adventurer
will want to do the whole trail and maybe stay at bed and breakfasts. Many people will only use sections of the river. They may stay in Anniston, Montgomery or Mobile, any of the other towns along the river," he said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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