Canoe shuttles, natural buffers part of Teche Paddle Trail plan
By: Ken Grissom
Breaux Bridge – How can you tour Bayou Teche if you don’t have a boat?
Or let’s say you have a canoe or kayak – the optimum way to travel on such a quiet and lovely waterway. How do you get it and yourselves back to your car?
A citizens’ advisory committee for the nascent Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, meeting here on Tuesday, Jan. 25, focused on the need for shuttle services and bayou tours as well as an education program to mitigate non-point pollution from farms and homes along the banks.
The National Park Service is contributing a year’s technical assistance to interested parties in St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes create a designated paddle trail. Its Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance program promotes low impact, non-motorized recreation.
Taking the lead locally are the Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism at UL Lafayette, the TECHE Project, and Acadiana Resource Conservation and Development.
Two courses of action identified in this latest of several paddle trail meetings are to 1) develop a “business package” to steer entrepreneurs through the regulatory maze toward developing services like canoe liveries or shuttles and boat tours; and 2) create a database of property owners along the bayou who can contribute significantly to the health of the waterway by simply letting natural vegetation grow wild along the bank.
Cajuns for Bayou Teche, a program of The TECHE Project, has gone a long way toward cleaning up the debris and litter in the bayou. The next step in this continuing effort will be to address the quality of the water itself, which is badly stressed by runoff of pollutants from fertilizers and herbicides to leaked motor oil and animal droppings. Leaving a 10-foot strip of natural vegetation – a little wider in farm fields – is an inexpensive way to filter runoff and fight erosion.
If you want to help or you have questions, call Jennifer Ritter Cooper, assistant director of UL’s Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism (firstname.lastname@example.org) 482-1320, or Kristen Kordecki (email@example.com), watershed coordinator for Acadiana RC&D, 323-9228.