5 Rivers, Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, is a dream location for an outdoor lover. Named for the five rivers that converge into the Mobile Bay, 5 Rivers was created to protect the extraordinary variety of plant and animal species in the freshwater and marine ecosystems found there, as well as the wetlands, waterways, and woods.
Visitors to 5 Rivers enjoy kayaking, canoeing, hiking, nature cruising, camping, and bird watching. They also take advantage of the theater, convention center, classrooms, exhibit hall, and gift shop.
Existing walkways, piers, and shelter platforms were originally made with Pine decking, which required a nearly continuous maintenance. Eventually these structures needed to be replaced. The State of Alabama contracted with Gillis Construction, a well-respected construction company from Bay Minette, Alabama, to replace the old, degrading Pine structures with new ones made from Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Ipé. Since several sites were accessible only by river, Gillis Construction outfitted their crew to get up and down the river using a barge loaded with supplies, adapting well to a rather challenging construction site.
The choice to use Ipé was an easy one, as it can withstand the area’s high temperatures and humidity, as well as contact with water, all without compromising its natural beauty. Because Ipé is so durable, it requires little maintenance and can last for over 25 years. Additionally, unlike Pine, Ipé does not require chemical treatments to enhance durability, so leaching chemicals into the watershed and ecosystem will not occur. These qualities make it an economical and environmentally-friendly choice for a state-owned property.
This comprehensive project recently reached completion. The projects include an extensive boardwalk, four shelter platforms, kayak launch, eagle and osprey nesting platforms as well as a variety of areas to commune with nature. The shelter platforms provide a covered and enclosed space to sleep or take cover from the elements. The nesting platforms look like a telephone poll with a box at the top, and create a safe place away from power lines, light and cell phone towers for these indigenous birds to nest.
Maintaining an ecosystem requires protecting flora and fauna from humans as well as protect humans interacting with flora and fauna. Included in this project are areas with specially designed fencing to curtail feral hog activity. Feral, or wild, hogs can damage delicate ecosystems, native wildlife, and can be very aggressive towards humans. The new fencing is made of not only durable, but very strong Ipé and a thick gauge of square, wire fencing to restrict access to feral hogs.
These improvements to 5 Rivers provide a service for the public, making the park safer while providing more access to the incredible wild spaces the Mobile Delta has to offer. This wonderful utilization of state funding, with extended life expectancy, and limited maintenance, while providing excellent ways for citizens to interact with nature, will create a value for several generations of flora, fauna and of course, human beings.