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Trees planted, trails expanded at Minooka

An effort is underway to reintroduce Bald Cypress trees to Minooka Park and surrounding areas.

Two Bald Cypress seedlings were planted on a small island on Minooka Lake in March. The trees are intended to beautify the area as well as propagate new growth.

The trees were donated by Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development and the Buxahatchee Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

“They used to be here, but there aren’t many to be found anymore,” said Glenn Littleton, watershed coordinator with the Buxahatchee Creek Watershed Restoration Project. “Minooka Park seemed to be an ideal location. The island was a great location where they won’t be disturbed.”

Bald Cypress trees in some ways resemble pines, but they are deciduous trees that turn from green to orange-brown in the fall. They are commonly found near water and are known for their “knees,” or wide root structure seen above the normal water level.

“They should take off real well as wet as it stays there,” Park Manager Gerald Arrington said. “It will take several years. They’re small seedlings, but one day they should be pretty out there.”

Meanwhile, Minooka’s ever-expanding trails are becoming more visible through tourism programs. Minooka is now part of the Passport to Fitness, a project of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to promote the state’s many fitness opportunities.

Minooka is included in a 150-page booklet of walking and hiking trails across Alabama. The book has color photos, maps and other useful information. Participants can visit each area and check off each location with special “stamps” that are obtained from state parks.

The Passport to Fitness books are available at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce. An interactive Web site may be found at http://adeca.alabama.gov/C4/PTF/default.aspx.

“It was free for the park,” Arrington said. “Each location gets 100 of these books. It’s just one more way for us to get our name out there.”

Minooka Park has two miles of trails exclusive to walking and hiking. One mile is a handicap-accessible gravel trail that circles the lake, and a connecting trail is slightly more difficult. Several miles of trails may be used by both hikers and ATV riders.

Six miles of horseback riding trails were recently completed at the park. These trails may also be used by side-by-side utility vehicles.

Arrington said the RV campground is still under construction. When complete, it will include 18 new sites.

“We expect to be pouring concrete pads within the next week,” Arrington said.