By Jonathan Olivier
“Trails are a big thing we’ve heard people are interested in. People don’t just want trails for bikes or walking, but trails in the water where you have access points to different rivers.” – Cheryl Michelet, BREC communications director
After a successful 10-year stint with the Imagine Your Parks plan to build and renovate city parks, BREC now shifts focus to trails for the next strategic plan.
BREC will unveil the plan Sept. 24, which will guide the next 10 years of progress with a focus on increased access to trails on land and water. Officials with BREC and partnering consultants will present a preliminary plan to the public at Independence Park at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’ll have a rough draft of the plan,” said Cheryl Michelet, BREC communications director. “We will show [the participants] drawings and there will be different [design] choices. And then people can get together and give us feedback on what we have shown them.”
Those unable to be present for the unveiling can still view the proposed plan and comment online via brec.org, or by emailing the planning and engineering department, Michelet said.
After a three-week public comment period, BREC officials will craft a final plan that will dictate the next 10 years of development. But for now, and most likely after the comment period, the plan will have a focus on trails.
“Trails are a big thing we’ve heard people are interested in,” Michelet said. “People don’t just want trails for bikes or walking, but trails in the water where you have access points to different rivers.”
BREC aims to have access to city parks within a 10-minute drive from virtually any point in the city, Michelet said.
Putting the REC in BREC
And with the increased access to trails, BREC will have more opportunity for activities on its properties throughout the parish.
BREC Naturalist Amanda Nichols has been in charge of several initiatives to help give the public more recreational opportunities, the most recent being the Summer’s End Night Hike and Campfire at the Frenchtown Road Conservation Area.
The events have focused on using the cover of darkness to educate participants about nocturnal animals, to demonstrate how the human eye adjusts to nighttime, and serves as an all-around interesting and new way to explore the woods.
“It starts when it’s just sunset or dusk, so we still have a bearing,” Nichols said. “The hike ends by the Amite River where we have a campfire. Around the fire I teach about the history of the property…then we have s’mores. By that time it’s pitch black and we hike back and spotlight animals.”
While walking through the woods at night may seem a bit eerie, Nichols said the experience is nothing but enjoyable. After all, she leads the way in case the path is blocked by spider webs or other creatures.
“A lot of people have never been in the woods at night,” Nichols said. “It’s a really cool way to get people out.”
After two successful night hikes, Nichols will hold the final one of the year on Oct. 3 from 7 to 10 p.m. Those interested can register by contacting Nichols at 272-9200 ext. 529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.