Gulf Adventure Center Facing Closure by the State

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Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will not be renewing the contract in October.

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We’ve been good stewards of the natural resources at Gulf State Park and would like to continue to enhance awareness and appreciation for the park’s natural beauty and native wildlife.

Gulf Adventure Center at Gulf State Park, the TripAdvisor top-ranked outdoor-adventure activity on the Alabama Gulf Coast, recently received notice from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) that their four-year contract, which was set to automatically renew in October, will not be renewed.

No clear reason was given for non-renewal.

ADCNR is the state agency responsible for the conservation and management of Alabama’s natural resources including state parks, state lands, wildlife and aquatic resources.

In 2012, J.T. Lemons, a founding partner and the concessionaire of Gulf Adventure Center, was granted a contract with ADCNR to build and operate Gulf Adventure Center — a 14-acre, seven-tower zipline course and outdoor adventure center within Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. The initial contract included an automatic renewal clause at the end of each four-year term.

Opened in March of 2013, Gulf Adventure Center quickly gained popularity and has since become one of the top attractions on the Alabama Gulf Coast, according to TripAdvisor.

The state's notice of non-renewal comes as a shock to Gulf Adventure Center General Manager Tom Schlinkert, who states there was never any indication given by ADCNR of any dissatisfaction with the operation and no reason was given for contract termination.

According to Schlinkert, Gulf Adventure Center's records show that the business contributes more than $150,000 in sales tax annually, employs seven full-time and 48 part-time employees, and has provided revenues in excess of $300,000 to the Gulf State Park since its inception.

Schlinkert claims he is making every effort to come to a mutual agreement with ADCNR on a contract that is satisfactory to both parties.

“We’ve built a great asset for the Alabama Gulf Coast tourism industry in the past four years, and we have plans to expand our operations, adding more activities and amenities,” said Schlinkert.

“We’ve been good stewards of the natural resources at Gulf State Park and would like to continue to enhance awareness and appreciation for the park’s natural beauty and native wildlife,” he furthered.

Schlinkert says he is making every effort to understand the ADCNR’s recent actions, and is working to preserve this Gulf Coast tourism asset and the operation’s $1 million-plus investment.

“Gulf Adventure Center has always maintained a good relationship with ADCNR and we are unsure why the decision to not renew was made,” furthered Schlinkert.

Gulf Adventure Center is initiating a campaign to lobby the Alabama Governor’s office to keep the center open. Supporters are encouraged to send “Keep Gulf Adventure Center Open” or #keepGACopen messages to Governor Robert Bentley through the following channels:

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Gulf Adventure Center
The Hummingbird Ziplines at Gulf Adventure Center are a world-class experience. Consisting of seven towers and six ziplines over the length of one mile, the Hummingbird Zipline course takes you as high as 90 feet off the ground. The height provides a great vantage point for taking in spectacular views of the area’s white sand beaches and the natural surroundings at Gulf State Park. Visitors can also explore the calm waters of Lake Shelby with paddleboard and kayak rentals. To learn more, visit gulfadventurecenter.com or call 251-948-9494.

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Katie King

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