The Mobile County Commission is poised to purchase another 200 acres around the Big Creek Watershed as part of an ongoing effort to protect the reservoir that supplies the bulk of Mobile County’s drinking water.

The cost of the purchase, $360,000, will be covered by grants from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has already greenlighted the process.

Boardwalk waterway Created by Congress in 2005, CIAP was a one-time program aimed at protecting oil-and-gas producing states by utilizing royalties from oil production companies.

Alabama was one of six states eligible to receive the funding from 2007-2010, with its Department of Conservation of Natural Resources receiving $58 million, Baldwin County receiving $14 million and Mobile County receiving $17.4 million.

One of the few authorized uses for CIAP funding are projects and activities for the conservation, protection or restoration of coastal areas, including wetlands. That’s right in line with that Mobile County has been using its share of the grant program for.

Over the past few years, the county has used $3.6 million in CIAP funding to purchase and maintain more than 680 acres of floodplain and wetlands in the area, including the 440 acres acquired in the Big Creek Lake Watershed, and the newest acquisition will only add to that.

The county’s environmental department has also submitted a $4 million project proposal for RESTORE Act funding that would build upon the current wetland acquisition project.

“We want to identify environmentally fragile areas around our natural resources and assure that they continue to be maintained and preserved for the benefit of our citizens and generations to come,” said Mobile County Commission President Jerry Carl.

In addition to the land acquisition at Big Creek Lake, the Mobile County Commission is closing on a purchase of 15 acres of shoreline property at its River Delta Park Marina & Campground in Creola, an entryway to the the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

Not only does it add the acreage to the existing park and campground, but the county says it provides an opportunity to secure and revitalize the shoreline.

A boat launch at Big Creek Lake in Mobile County.

A boat launch at Big Creek Lake in Mobile County.

The county has tentative plans for the park to add an elevated boardwalk in the new area that will connect to an existing boardwalk several hundred feet in length that navigates around the shoreline and into marsh areas.

Altogether, the Mobile County Conservation Acquisition Project has so far purchased almost 1,000 acres of sensitive land that abuts vital natural resources throughout the county — most of which (760 acres) is located within the Big Creek Watershed.

“We are blessed with incredible natural resources and it is our responsibility to ensure that we preserve and enhance them when given the opportunity,” said Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood.

Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson said the county “encourages a robust program for protection of our environment, not only in land acquisition and maintenance, but by providing recycling opportunities, neighborhood cleanups, and the safe disposal of hazardous wastes.”

The Mobile County Commission has several more properties which it is seeking to acquire and conserve because of valued natural resources within them.