Plans moving forward on archery park at county lake

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/18/17

A planned archery park at the Walker County Lake is coming closer to being a reality, according to the Walker County Health Action Partnership (HAP).

The Livable Communities Priority Group, one of HAP’s three priority groups, held a meeting Thursday to discuss work on the archery park.

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Plans moving forward on archery park at county lake

Posted

A planned archery park at the Walker County Lake is coming closer to being a reality, according to the Walker County Health Action Partnership (HAP).

The Livable Communities Priority Group, one of HAP’s three priority groups, held a meeting Thursday to discuss work on the archery park.

Jenny Short, the priority group’s chair, said the group has received the final memorandum of understanding from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“This is a real opportunity for us to bring an activity to our hunting and fishing community,” said Short.

Elyse Peters of the Walker County HAP said they hope to be able to have the archery park completed ahead of bow hunting season, which begins in October.

“We’ll probably start building in July and August and maybe into September,” Peters said. “My goal is to have the ribbon cutting on Monday, Oct. 2.”

Short reported that Stuart Goldsby, hunter education coordinator for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, had previously told her that archery parks such as this are not complicated to build. Goldsby was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.

“In my mind, I thought this was going to be some massive construction event,” she explained. “This is a fairly low cost, low intensity, low human capital cost, high impact amenity. And that gets us really excited.”

Andrew Baril, a regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said the plan is to locate the archery park on the far side of the small pond at Walker County Lake.

He explained that the land in that location is already mostly clear of trees.

“It was kind of a bug patch so it was already really clear but it still has a wooded, natural feel,” Short added. “So it’s the best of both worlds with not having to take down trees, but yet it’s very wooded and natural. It’s perfect.”

The archery park will offer three user experiences, with the first one being elevated shooting platforms with disability access. Upon completion of the project, Walker County Lake will have the only disabled access shooting platform in Alabama.

The second will be a youth and adult known-distance range, with the third being a tournament-only, walk-through experience.

Across from the archery park, a parking area will be located that can accommodate about 10 cars. Two additional parking spaces will be placed next to the disabled shooting platform.

The group currently has $25,000 in funding. Short said they would like to keep their budget around $20,000 and hold on to the rest of the money in case of emergencies or unforeseen obstacles.

Short described the archery park project as a great opportunity “for us to really be a showcase for a public/private partnership.”

The project is using private funding on a public space, a state lake, she explained.

“We want people taking their families out and trying archery — just having them experience another activity,” Short continued.

She added that they want student archery groups to take advantage of the archery park as well.

In the beginning, “I thought the archery park was going to be a really cool thing, but this is going to really be something big,” Short said. “This will drive our outdoor recreation economy in a big way. We just have to get behind it.”

The Livable Communities Priority Group will hold a community-wide meeting in July, although a specific date has not been set yet.

During Thursday’s meeting, the first annual Sipsey Fork River Race was also discussed.

The race, which people can compete in with canoes, kayaks or paddle boards, is scheduled for Saturday, July 15. Martha Salomaa of the Sipsey Heritage Commission encouraged anyone interested in participating to sign up at www.eventbrite.com.