Courtesy of the The Scenic River Trail/Alabama Tourism Department
we could make it happen,” Couch said. And giving credence to the fairytale notion that believing something hard enough can make it true, 18 months later, in June 2008, The Alabama Scenic River Trail held its grand opening in Montgomery. But the work that went on behind the scenes amounts to far more than mere pixie dust. “One hurdle was to figure out how to get around the dams in the rivers and the Alabama Power dams on the lakes,” Couch said. In this endeavor he had plenty of help. According to Couch, Doster was
instrumental. “Once we had the permissions from Alabama Power it was Charlie, who is in his eighties, who went out with the Alabama Power representative and traipsed through the woods around those dams for months discovering the portage trails we could use. “Many other volunteers pitched in as well. “We would not have this Trail if not for so many people giving their time and talents,” Couch said. “I did not do this alone.” Now the trail has resulted in over $17 million of free publicity for the state, with articles appearing in USA
Today, The New York Times and more. Better still, it gives beginning boaters and old river rats alike an amazingly detailed route to follow for a day trip or an extended run. “We’ve traversed the entire trail and GPS checked every waypoint, every road, every campsite, every put in and take out, and noted it for the Trail map,” Couch said. “I researched the history all the way down the river. We divided the Trail into sections and did a guide book for each.” And the results of all the efforts have been amazing, calling to mind the famous movie line, “If you build it, they will come.” Come they have. “Since the Trail formed, so many people who didn’t realize the natural beauty of our rivers and waterways or how to access them are now getting out there and enjoying them all,” Couch said. “I get two or three emails a week from people who want to come out and do a section of the Trail. I got one from a group of doctors from Georgia who were bringing their whole families to go down the Trail for their Spring Break trip, and one from a couple coming all the way from California. That just delights me; it’s phenomenal.”
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The Summer 2010 issue of Longleaf