FOLEY – A project to improve Philomene Holmes Boulevard will provide better access through Foley’s Graham Creek Nature Preserve.

The Foley City Council voted to approve the project at its last meeting. The work includes paving part of the boulevard, but leaving some of the route through the park as a gravel road. The gravel section of the road would be bordered by concrete to keep the rocks from being washed into the woods.

Philomene Holmes Boulevard extends through the Graham Creek Nature Preserve from the park’s Interpretive Center to Roscoe Road, about 1.4 miles.

The project is expected to take about six months to complete, but that schedule could be affected by weather and other factors.

The Graham Creek Nature Preserve is located on Wolf Bay Drive, south of Baldwin County 12 South.

The park, which is owned and operated by the city of Foley, is now about 660 acres in size. The facility is the largest municipal nature preserve in Alabama.

The city recently received a $5 million grant through the federal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, known as GoMESA, that officials plan to use to increase the size of the preserve.

The preserve includes a canoe/kayak launch, a 5-mile hiking trail, a 7.5-mile bicycling trail, a 3-mile cross country trail, a nine-basket disc golf course, picnic area and bird watching. The facility also includes habitats where visitors can see rare carnivorous plants and a variety of wildflowers year-round.

Hours at the preserve are from dawn to dusk each day.

The boulevard is named for Philomene Holmes, a longtime Foley nurse. She and her husband, Dr. W.C. “Buddy” Holmes, operated Baldwin County’s first hospital, the Sibley Holmes Memorial Hospital, in Foley from 1936 until 1958. The hospital is now the Holmes Medical Museum on East Laurel Avenue.