One of Alabama’s natural treasures is being temporarily shut down for an extensive and time-consuming ecological project.

Desoto Falls, part of the large Desoto State Park in Ft. Payne, Ala., has been a popular attraction for Alabamians and tourists since 1939. According to Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, the park is in need of a thorough cleaning.

The park will go through an extensive dredging process that Lein said will last for at least two months. The dredging will cause certain park areas to be closed until the process is complete.

Dredging is a laborious but straightforward procedure that filters away the debris from the water. It is a routine necessity in waterways around the world for sedimentation that gradually fills channels, harbors, and other waterways.

Silt and debris have washed up along the shore of DeSoto Falls for years. Flooding or other high-water events have greatly exacerbated the amount of trash and earth minerals that have found their way to the beach. And the dredging work will safeguard and fortify the area. In addition, the result will allow the park to re-establish a beach and designated swimming area.

"DeSoto Falls is one of Alabama’s true treasures, and we take our responsibility to protect it seriously,” Lein said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this work will cause for our visitors, but it is critical to making sure the Falls is here for generations to come.”

During the course of the work, the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area and Overlook area will be closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

“Thousands of visitors enjoy DeSoto Falls every year, and it’s no secret that we cherish it as a truly special place,” DeSoto State Park Superintendent Josh Hughes said. “This temporary closure should make it better than ever for our visitors. That’s the goal.”

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