Nov 03 2003


Senate Passes Conference Report to Accompany Interior Appropriations Bill

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby today announced the approval of several funding requests for Alabama. The Interior Appropriations bill is now headed to the President's desk, which he is expected to sign into law.

Alabama National Forest, $750,000 - This funding will assist in the purchase of land, from willing sellers only, within the boundaries of Alabama's National Forests. The National Forests in Alabama represent the largest area of publicly owned land in Alabama, covering approximately 665,661 acres.

Senator Shelby said, "This year's funding will aid in the continued protection and preservation of our wildlife and natural resources in this area."

Pinhoti Trail Construction, $1 million - The funding is for the purchase of the last piece of land in Alabama and Georgia that will allow completion of the Pinhoti Trail.

Senator Shelby said, "Our ultimate goal is to link the Pinhoti Trail to the Florida Trail at the Florida-Alabama state line in the Conecuh National Forest. Such a link would make the Pinhoti part of a trail system stretching from the Everglades in the southern end of Florida to Maine and Cape Gaspe in the Quebec Province of Canada."

Mobile Tensaw Delta, $3 million - This bill provides $3 million for acquisition of a proposed total of 10,000 acres of pristine forest lands in Mobile Tensaw River Delta. This will complement 54,000 acres that have already been secured in the area.

Senator Shelby said, "These funds will assist in the efforts of federal, state and local entities to conserve and manage this unique ecosystem."

Alabama Rural Economic Action Program for Underserved Distressed Counties, $500,000 - This funding will assist the forest industry in underserved communities and distressed counties to create and retain jobs to stimulate economic development in the State of Alabama.

Senator Shelby said, "The forest industry in Alabama is suffering from difficult times with the loss of more than 4,000 jobs due to plant closures, layoffs, and downsizing. Users of the program will receive direct practical assistance to create and retain jobs, expand the use of productive technologies, reach new markets, and improve the utilization of forest resources."

Grand Jury Building in Eutaw, $435,000 - This funding will continue the renovation project for the Courthouse complex, including all four original "out-buildings." This funding will focus specifically on the Grand Jury Building.

Senator Shelby said, "The Eutaw Courthouse complex is unique and unlike many other historic structures in the South because all original "out-buildings" are still standing. It is vital to the community that these historic buildings be preserved and returned to their original splendor."

The Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church & Museum, Prattville, $200,000 - This funding will assist with making needed repairs and refurbishment as well as documentation of artifacts. This will include a new roof for the church, repairs to the water-damaged floors, and cataloguing the historical items in the basement museum.

Senator Shelby said, "The Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Museum was built in 1843 by Prattville founder Daniel Pratt. This church has been a landmark in Prattville for 160 years, and this funding is important to preserving the history of the area."

Tuskegee Airman Historic Site, $500,000 - The bill includes $500,000 for continued planning of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The Tuskegee Airmen were one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. The site was established by law in 1998 at Moton Field in Tuskegee, AL to commemorate and interpret the actions of the Tuskegee Airmen during the air campaign in Europe. The new site will contain a museum and interpretive programs at the historic complex at Moton Field as well as a national center based on a public-private partnership.

Sen. Shelby said, "We are all aware of the heroic actions of the Tuskegee Airmen and I am proud to announce this much needed funding"