FOLEY – Areas that were part of drainage Improvements at the headwaters of the Bon Secour River could become a municipal wetland reserve under plans being developed by the city of Foley.
Workers have been clearing debris left in the headwaters after Hurricane Sally struck the area in 2020. Leslie Gahagan, Foley environmental director, said most of the project is complete.
”The Bon Secour Headwater Project is at completion and we’ve also in the process of just monitoring and do some doing some adaptive management
She told City Council members that the proposal would also name the reserve for the engineer who helped design the project who died in October.
“Our lead engineer tragically passed away on Oct. 28. After much discussion, I think it would be right to name this after him. It’s the Andrew James Wetland Reserve,” Gahagan said.
Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the designation would be an appropriate recognition.
“He was really big into nature, very proud of it and very proud of this project,” Hellmich said. “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.”
Hellmich said plans call for the site to be a reserve with limited public access.
“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 mayor said some residents have expressed concern about potential traffic if the area becomes a public park.
“We want people who live there who are concerned to know that there won’t be a lot of people,” Hellmich said. “So, wetland reserve better fits what it actually is.”
James was an engineer with Volkert and Associates who worked on city projects including bank stabilization and natural stream bank restoration in the Wolf Bay watershed.
Gahagan said city officials will recognize James at an upcoming City Council meeting.