Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Natural Beach

Several years ago during a school trip with my son's class I took my first hike in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach. This 6,700 acres preserve is located off Fort Morgan Parkway (Hwy. 180) just 10 miles west of the main highway (Hwy. 59)into the Gulf Shores, Alabama area. Although I'm a native of this area I had never discovered this awesome Wildlife Refuge. I found out that is was established by congress in 1980 to preserve the coastal dune ecosystem and protect threatened and endangered species including nesting sites for green, loggerhead, and other sea turtles.

This refuge named Bon Secour, meaning safe harbor in French, serves as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna and comprises one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the Alabama coast. Over 370 species of birds have been identified on the refuge during migratory seasons. The largest are ospreys and herons with the smallest being seven species of hummingbirds.

We hiked the two-mile Pine Beach Trail that meanders through a forest of palmettos, live oaks and Spanish moss past Gator Lake and Little Lagoon to a spectacular ridge of dunes and a pristine, all-natural beach. An easier beach access with parking facilities is located at Mobile Street. We also stopped by the refuge office for more park information.

I've never forgotten the sense of wonder I felt as we made our way through the natural surrounding to one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, practically in my own backyard. As Meyer Real Estate hosts thousands of visitors each year I see them frequent the public beach areas in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and I wonder when they too will find their way to this most natural of beaches.

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