The Friends group leveraged its own funds as well as volunteer labor to compete for the NFWF grant.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that preserves and restores our nation’s native wildlife species and habitats. Created by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private funds.
“The Friends group is very pleased to receive these funds to improve the hiking trail,” said Delores Stewart, Friends president. “We hope that this trail will be an asset to the refuge and allow visitors to enjoy our natural resources,”
The hiking trail on the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge is about 2.5 miles in length. It is located on Janet E Road just off of U.S. 90 near Franklin.
“The trail is an excellent resource for outdoor enthusiasts,” Stewart said. “It has the ability to be used for outdoor classrooms for environmental education as well as photography and wildlife viewing.”
The current trail was once an old oilfield location that was returned to the wild. The trail, built with assistance from volunteers and the Louisiana Hiking Club, begins at an old oil field metering station that was turned into a parking lot. From this point visitors can access the trail for a variety of activities.
According to Refuge Manager Paul Yakupzack, the Palmetto trail is another addition to the refuge that will encourage ecotourism in the parish.
“We are thankful for all the support shown by the Friends of Bayou Teche Refuge and parish representatives for the establishment of this trail,” he said.
The trail has already been used for birding, hiking, recreation and exercise. Future plans include adding interpretive signs so that visitors can easily identify the vegetation in the area to learn more about the refuge’s natural resources.
“Since no boat is required to get there, the trail is a great way for the average person to see what makes Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge special,” said Byron Fortier, supervisory park ranger. “We look forward to seeing many visitors at the Palmetto Trail. The grant received allows the Friends to build on the hard work they’ve already done towards this goal.”
The Friends of Bayou Teche Refuge are already planning their next project and encourage volunteers to aid in their efforts. A cleanup day will be held sometimes in October to remove discarded items from the refuge. If you would like to volunteer to help in the cleanup efforts, e-mail, Donovan Garcia at email@example.com.