According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings, only 50% of Walker County residents have adequate access to locations for physical activity. Combined with a 36% adult obesity rate, there is a great need for affordable and accessible recreational opportunities to promote physical activity within the county. The Healthy Communities Workgroup of the Bold Goals Coalition is challenged with meeting this need by improving access to environments that empower individuals to make choices that will positively improve their health. In Walker County, this work is coordinated through the Walker County Health Action Partnership (HAP).
The Master Plan for the Walker County Lake is part of this larger movement within Walker County to increase and enhance active living opportunities. The project is supported by the Walker County HAP’s Livable Communities Priority Group.
The Master Plan was finalized earlier this fall, providing a blueprint of future development of the lake and surrounding areas. Historically, the 163-acre Walker County Lake has been a well-stocked, well-maintained fishing lake, listed as the 3rd busiest fishing lake in Alabama in 2014. Since the lake is only one mile off of Interstate 22, it is easily accessible for people traveling from other parts of the county and the state. The overall goal of the plan is to expand recreational opportunities for Walker County residents and to increase the use of the lake by different local groups and regional travelers, all while maintaining its integrity as an angler’s lake and preserving the natural character.
At a meeting of the Walker County Lake Steering Committee in late September, Jenny Short said: “This is something that we all own. It’s not just a couple of people trying to get Walker County Lake to be what we know it can be.” Short is the chairperson of the Livable Communities Priority Group.
This plan is the result of a thorough planning process, developed over a five month period under the direction of a steering committee composed of key stakeholders in the community. Kelly Landscape Architects, LLC developed the plan using grant funding from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. United Way of Central Alabama is providing backbone administrative resources but more public and private funding sources, and volunteer work projects are now being sought.