Paddle trail planning begins: National Park service helping out

Charenton – A public meeting to initiate planning for the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail will be held Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Chitimacha Reservation here.

The National Park Service will give free technical assistance for one year to communities in St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes to plan for an official paddle trail.

The Center for Cultural and Eco Tourism at UL Lafayette, the TECHE Project and Acadiana RC&D will be co-managing the project in conjunction with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance (RCTA) project. The program helps communities across the nation develop paddle and foot trails to help promote low impact, non-motorized recreation and address conservation concerns.

The Bayou Teche Paddle Trail will capitalize on the success of the annual Tour du Teche, the 130-mile canoe and kayak race held last September.

“We found out for sure what we had taken on faith: Bayou Teche is a magical place, balancing beauty with mystery and wilderness with culture,” says race director Ken Grissom. “People who came for the race will come back to explore at their leisure. This is a paddler’s paradise and the word is leaking out all over the country.”

This project will help communities along Bayou Teche address the need for kayak, canoe & pirogue access to the bayou, water quality

improvement needs and small economic development potential. Four public meetings will be held by February 2011 to air concerns and ideas people have about Bayou Teche. Public input will drive the planning process and will help prioritize projects during the implementation phases.

The first meeting was set for this past Tuesday in Port Barre. The second will be held Thursday, Nov. 18, at 5:30 p.m. in the Chitimacha Tribal School gym, 3613 Chitimacha Trail,

Charenton. Other meeting dates and places will be announced later.

A steering committee composed of parish government appointees, recreation and business development experts and interested parties is being developed to help develop the plan with the National Park Service.

“We expect 30 to 40 people at each meeting,” says Anya Burgess, of the TECHE Project. “In the last two years we have heard our neighbors say they want to bring more positive attention to Bayou Teche, improve water quality and provide easy and safe access to the water for kayaking and canoeing. This is the kind of project that needs to have community involvement if we want to sustain the momentum to clean up Bayou Teche and host recreation opportunities.”

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The Teche Today

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St. Martinville, LA 70582
Phone: 337-394-6232
Fax: 337-394-7511

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