1. Enhancing the visitor experience. The park’s 600,000 annual visitors will enjoy a vastly improved experience with nearly 10 miles of new walking, cycling, or running trails; approximately 3.5 miles of enhancements to existing park trails; and better connections throughout the park so visitors won’t need to drive as much to see all that it has to offer. Also included are new signs and kiosks providing information about the surrounding environment.
2. Restoring the dunes. The project will use innovative techniques and native plantings to restore the equivalent of more than 50 football fields of dunes, which protect us from storms and provide a habitat for important animals. Additionally, there will also be restoration of the natural habitat for wildlife, including beach mice and nesting sea turtles.
3. Building an environmental information center. This interactive exhibit space near the beach pavilion will include meeting space and educational spaces as well as indoor and outdoor educational information devoted to our unique environment. This “living building” will be overtly educational in its construction.
4. Building a Learning Campus. A new learning campus for the Park will provide a variety of educational, research and educational programs. Additional lodging options will create flexibility for student groups, researchers, and park visitors. A dining facility will serve all communities and park visitors. The Learning Campus will be located near the current park headquarters to encourage educational and programmatic connections with regional communities and schools.
5. Rebuilding a lodge in Gulf State Park. This overnight stay and meeting facility will welcome everyone and improve public access to the park’s beaches, trails, freshwater ecosystems and other natural resources, as well as serve as a model of resilient, environmentally friendly coastal development. The reconstruction will occur within a smaller site than the original lodge (destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004), which had been on the site since the 1970s.