Three canoeing trails have been developed in northeast Louisiana in hopes of luring adventurers to experience its bayous lined with majestic cypress trees.
The privately funded ecotourism project is administered by the LSU AgCenter, and was funded with a $115,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, LSU agritourism coordinator Dora Ann Hatch said. The foundation has funded projects from Memphis, Tenn., to Concordia Parish to showcase outdoor tourism opportunities.
The ecotourism initiative will continue, with word that the Walton Family Foundation will fund another grant to the LSU AgCenter for the next two years, Hatch said.
“An advisory committee was formed with participants from northeast Louisiana to provide input on potential trails and what paddlers seek when they are looking for new places to explore,” she said. “Paddling is one of the fastest-growing outdoor sports.”
The trails were established at Poverty Point State Park north of Rayville, Tensas Wildlife Refuge near Tallulah and on Bayou Bartholomew near Bastrop.
“Brochures have been printed, and they will be distributed at tourism centers,” Hatch said.
The brochures detail GPS locations for access points, along with descriptions of trip difficulty levels, trail length and water levels.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have provided assistance, she said.
“We have developed some great partnerships with government agencies.”
The trail on Bayou Macon at Poverty Point lacked an access point, she said, but state park officials became involved and plan to purchase 10 acres along the bayou to provide access.
“The Walton Family Foundation thought this was the most significant outcome because it showed that state and local people recognized the potential of nature-based tourism as an asset,” Hatch said.
The trail gives visitors another reason to stay at the park longer, said assistant secretary of state parks Stuart Johnson. “The paddling trails developed from the historic site to the Poverty Point Reservoir State Park will demonstrate the potential for economic development and tourism in the area.”
The state Office of Culture Recreation and Tourism is nominating Poverty Point Historic Site as a World Heritage Site, Johnson said.
The project has also led to several events.
The U.S. Department of Interior contacted Hatch and asked to participate in developing future trails inside the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. The department would provide signage and marketing for the trail.
A Facebook page, “Wanna Go Paddle,” has been established for kayak and canoe enthusiasts in Louisiana.
The website http://www.explorelouisiananorth.org has listed the brochures under its boating category.
A two-day paddling workshop held in September 2011 at Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge near Monroe drew 58 people, including a family that started a new company based in Breaux Bridge offering excursions on the Bayou Teche and nearby waters.
On one exploratory outing while developing the paddling trails, Joe Rolfe and river guide John Ruskey came upon a turn-of-the-century ferry landing, Vester’s Crossing on Bayou Bartholomew in Morehouse Parish.
“Joe Rolfe is on our ecotourism advisory and the find was made when we were exploring Bayou Bartholomew to create a trail,” Hatch said. The find was highlighted in a recent issue of Archeology magazine.
Visitors can learn about Dutch oven cooking during a program at Chicot State Park in Ville Platte from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 26.
Members of the Louisiana Dutch Oven Society will demonstrate the basics of how to prepare food in a Dutch oven. Ed Braud III, author of Black Iron and Cajun Spice, will also be demonstrating his stacked pots technique of cooking in Dutch ovens. Samples will be available for tasting.
“This program will help familiarize visitors with the culture of the area,” Kim Hollier, site naturalist.
Chicot State Park is the largest state park in Louisiana. Situated around a 2,000-acre, man-made lake, the park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors such as camping, fishing, hiking and picnicking. The park is located six miles north of Ville Platte in Evangeline Parish on La. 3042.
Day-use admission to the park is $1 per person. All programs are free with paid admission to the park.
Groups of 10 or more can make reservations for special programs.
For more information, call (888) 677-6100 toll free or (337) 363-6289 in the Ville Platte area.
The Kincaid Lake day use area recently opened on Kisatchie National Forest.
The Kincaid Lake day use area offers outdoor recreation opportunities including picnicking, hiking, biking, boating, swimming and camping.
The area is located off of La. 28 West in Alexandria.
Day use fees are $3 per vehicle, $3 for boat ramp access and camping fees vary from $10 to $20 a night depending on the type of camping.
For detailed information about all of the activities available visit http://www.fs.fed.us/kisatchie.com or call the Calcasieu Ranger District (318) 793-9427.
The LSU Ag Center, Office of State Parks and the USDA Forest Service provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or mail to Judy Bergeron, News Features assistant editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.
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