Archived Story

Outfitter builds business in ecotourism industry

Published 12:08pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Canoe adventures on Flint Creek and other streams in North Alabama have led to a growing business for Alabama Eco Adventures outfitter Jay Grantland and pointed the way to the untapped opportunities that exist in Alabama’s ecotourism industry.

Grantland’s success and the upward trend in utilizing water resources for economic development was the subject of a press conference held at Waterworks Center for Environmental Education near Hartselle Oct. 11. Participants were representatives of the Alabama River Scenic River Trail (ASRT), State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur and Grantland.

Grantland acknowledged that his operation has benefited greatly from ASRT’s website and national outreach efforts.

“We’re now extending into the weekdays as more groups take to paddling adventures,” he said. “We have the equipment and qualified guides to put over 60 people on the water at one time, and are maxing out a lot. Groups from as far away as New York and New Jersey are coming to Alabama to paddle the river trail. A group from Scotland has been booked for later this month.”

Grantland believes that Alabama’s river system can provide more opportunities for ecotourism growth.

“I often have people visit my website and then call and tell me about a specific picture they see,” Grantland stated. “They want to witness more of Alabama’s beauty.”

“We’re excited about being a partner of ASRT,” said Mike Roden, director of Alabama Mountains, Rivers and Valleys Resource Conservation Council. Our goals are the same. We want kids and adults to get outside and experience the wonders of the natural resources we have.

“I can envision our river trails becoming as popular as our Trent Jones golf courses in the future,” he added.

“Waterworks is an eco-destination where teachers, students and groups are on the water and exploring the natural world five days per week.”

Since the creation of ASET in 2008, outfitters renting boating equipment in the state have grown in number from fewer than eight to more than 30.

Jim Felder, executive director of ASRT said he believes outfitter successes like that of Grantland validates that Alabama has the quality of destination that people will travel to visit and enjoy.

“Alabama Eco Adventures success has a lot to do with the quality of experience along Alabama’s 5,000 miles of wildlife-rich streams, rivers and backwaters,” he pointed out.

“I feel that Alabama’s river system is an untapped resource for local municipalities and small businesses to grow and develop,” said Orr, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means General Fund.

“The Alabama Legis-lature wanted to support local towns that needed technical assistance, marketing and resources to develop their area into a possible destination for water recreation enthusiasts from round the country,” he pointed out. “We felt that supporting the ASRT network was the best way to utilize economic development for our river systems.”

For more information about the Alabama Scenic River Trail, visit www.alabamascenicrivertrail.com.

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