FOLEY – A federal grant will allow Foley to move ahead with expanding what is already Alabama’s largest municipal nature preserve.

The Foley City Council voted to accept a $5 million grant through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, known as GoMESA. Leslie Gahagan, Foley environmental director, said the money will be added to funds from a previous grant and used to buy land to add to the Graham Creek Nature Preserve.

“This will be our third GoMESA grant, but this is the second grant to put together to purchase the land,” she said. 

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the grant was announced in August, but the funds have now become available.

The Graham Creek Nature Preserve is now about 660 acres in size. The exact size of the expansion has not been determined.

The goal of the land use will be conservation with habitat restoration and management as well as some public access in the future for passive recreation.

The Graham Creek Nature Preserve, located near Wolf Creek Drive in southeast Foley, now includes 10 miles of hiking trails, two handicap-accessible boardwalks, a kayak launch and four disc golf courses.

The GOMESA program shares revenues from offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico with four participating states, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.