Virtual OmniBUS Tour! Welcome to Alabama’s Grand Canyon

Overlook of Little River Canyon, Alabama. Photo by Larry Beane, courtesy NPS.

After all that heart-pumping adventure seeking we did in the West, we’re going to slow it down here in Alabama today. We’ll take a nice stroll through a canyon and talk about the positive economic impact that public lands make on our economy. Nationwide, outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion to the American economy, while supporting 6.5 million jobs. We’ll see a slice of that here.

Let’s leave some for the grandkids: Country music group Alabama said it all

By Pat Byington

This special place and community in the northeast corner of Alabama is home to the “Sock Capital of the World” the country group Alabama and the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi – Little River Canyon.

The canyon is breathtaking and has been described as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. It is an extraordinary area in both its geology and biology. As the river winds through its course, nearly 600 feet deep at some locations, it creates a mosaic of micro-habitats that support unique assemblages of plants and animals.

In the early 90’s Little River Canyon’s clean waters inspired Randy Owen, the lead singer of the group Alabama to sing in the hit song “Pass it on down”.

“There's a place where I live called the Canyon
Where Daddy taught me to swim
And that water, it's so pure
And I'm gonna make sure
Daddy's grandkids can swim there like him”

Shortly after the song topped the country music charts, Congressman Tom Bevill championed the cause to designate the Canyon a National Park.

Little River, Alabama. Courtesy NPS.Today, The Little River Canyon National Preserve is seen not only as a place that is cherished by conservationists, recreationists and the community, but it is also important to the local community of Fort Payne, Alabama’s economic future. Known as the “Sock Capital of the World” the community has seen thousands of textile jobs leave the community over the past decade. The community is pinning part of its economic hopes on the Canyon’s ecotourism draw. In fact just recently the ecologically sensitive Jacksonville State University’s Canyon Center opened near the Park’s entrance.

A package of bills called the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which Congress will vote on this week, would help expand the Little River’s boundaries enabling us all to fulfill Randy Owen and Alabama’s commitment to this special place …

“So let's leave some blue up above us
Let's leave some green on the ground
It's only ours to borrow, let's save some for tomorrow
Leave it and pass it on down…”

Overlook of Little River Canyon, Alabama. Photo by Larry Beane, courtesy NPS.
Little River, Alabama. Courtesy NPS.

Pat Byington is a Birmingham, Alabama-based Wilderness Society staffer who loves hiking the Little River Canyon rim with his wife and daughter.

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