State and local officials have begun planning a possible Sweet Trails Alabama system to connect all 67 counties.

A law sponsored by State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) provides grants for qualified property donations to establish the Sweet Trails Alabama trail system. It also creates within the state treasury the Sweet Trails Alabama Project Fund and the Sweet Trails Alabama Acquisition Fund to receive gifts, grants, and appropriations.

Jones told 1819 News in a recent interview the trail system’s steering committee had been meeting around the state and will have a plan to establish the Sweet Trails Alabama system in October.

“We went around over a five-day period to 11 cities around the state listening to local folks on the ground about what they would like to see from a statewide trails plan. We’re continuing to gather information and data to plot a map which will link all 67 counties in Alabama by a trail network so we’re working with the steering committee right now to help identify the key things that need to be incorporated into that,” Jones said. “Definitely we’ll have a plan (on) October 1 of next year to present to (the) Innovation Commission. That way they can see what our priorities are that we’ve identified around the state and where we need to go from here.”

Jones said the trail system would bring tourism and economic development to Alabama. 

“Tourism is obviously one. Allowing folks to get outdoors is another. Economic development is often overlooked because where you have trail networks you have the potential for economic development. Folks will obviously if they hop on a trail from one end and walk or bike to the other…places to stop and eat, places where they can grab a cup of coffee, rent a bike, those kinds of facilities will come along as well. We look at it not just as tourism and wellness but also economic development.”

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