The City of Foley is completing a project to turn portions of the Bon Secour River headwater into a municipal wetland reserve.

The Andrew James Wetland Reserve, named after the lead engineer who helped design it, has been in development since Hurricane Sally filled the headwaters with debris.

Foley environmental director Leslie Gahagan said while the project is in the completion stage, monitoring and adaptive management are still underway.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the reserve will not be an attraction for the public.

"There was a concern about naming it a nature park because that denotes a very high use," Hellmich said. "This is not designed as a nature park, but there may be public access to it at some point in the future."

The reserve's namesake, Andrew James, passed away earlier this year and held the project dear to his heart.

"Our lead engineer tragically passed away on Oct. 28," Gahagan said. "After much discussion, I think it would be right to name this after him. It's the Andrew James Wetland Reserve."

"He was really big into nature, very proud of it and very proud of this project," Hellmich added. "It turned out exactly as designed. It is not only a floodwater structure. It also functions as a reserve, a habitat for creatures and birds."

The city will recognize James at a future city council meeting.

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