Forever Wild, one of Alabama's most successful conservation programs, is up for renewal this year (Amendment 1 on your ballot) and has brought together a diverse coalition of supporters – hunters, environmentalists, tourism officials, and business owners. Pat Byington, a member of the Forever Wild Board of Trustees, tells the story in a Birmingham News op/ed.
As director of the Alabama Conservancy at the time, I had a front row seat at the birth of Forever Wild. For example, I witnessed the hard work of Bill Satterfield, former deputy general counsel for the Department of the Interior in the Reagan administration, and an attorney at Balch and Bingham, representing the business community. He drafted and negotiated the Forever Wild legislation with an equally dedicated attorney, Bob Reid, a partner at the Bradley, Arant law firm and avid birder representing the Birmingham Audubon Society. It wasn't an easy process. This kind of effort was unheard of in 1992, but it was the spirit of Forever Wild.
Months later, in the Legislature, Mobile's Republican state Sen. Ann Bedsole worked closely with freshman Anniston Democratic Sen. Doug Ghee, the sponsor of the Forever Wild constitutional amendment in the Senate. There was no inkling of partisan politics. Not one interest group got everything they wanted in the legislation.
Once the legislation passed, it appeared on the November 1992 ballot. Led by Bill Ireland, the Birmingham industrialist, outdoorsman, conservationist and philanthropist, all the groups came together to promote and support the amendment to the general public. Alabama voters approved the Forever Wild constitutional amendment with 83 percent of the popular vote.
The spirit of Forever Wild still lives today. More than 195 organizations from every walk of life, including the same unlikely allies, have once again joined together to support the renewal of Forever Wild. They unanimously recognize we need to continue Forever Wild.
The Forever Wild constitutional amendment is number 1 on the ballot November 6 and it needs your support. Byington isn't kidding when he talks about the broad support for the program – everyone from the NRA to the Sierra Club has endorsed it!
However, supporters face a formidable opponent – ALFA (who tried to kill the amendment last session) – and some not-so-formidable ones as well. State Senators Shadrack McGill & Gerald Dial worked against it. Dial even tried to filibuster the bill. Those poor schmucks can't seem to be on the right side of any issue.
Learn more about the success of Forever Wild.