What is a Blueway?
A Blueway is a river trail, a linear paddling trail with public access points (low impact, non-motorized boat launch areas for paddlers).
The plan typically includes plans for a green corridor, or stream-side management zone to protect water quality, stabilize riverbanks and maintain scenic views. The majority of the stream-side management zone along most paddling trails is typically in private ownership; therefore participation in managing the green corridor along the paddling trail requires voluntary actions by private landowners.
A Blueway in St. Tammany?
The Land Trust for Louisiana is currently working with elected officials and others to begin the process of establishing a Blueway in western St. Tammany Parish. While developing such a project may take a while, initial steps by public agencies are underway to develop a plan. The hope is that this will serve as a template to establish additional Blueways in St. Tammany and in other parishes in Louisiana.
Why is the Land Trust for Louisiana interested Blueways?
- Preserve streamside corridors and other buffer zones and natural areas for habitat protection, water quality improvement, scenic views, and wilderness and rural character.
- Protect valuable wildlife habitat focusing on the most critical needs.
- Promote stewardship and conservation of natural areas through education and research opportunities.
- Support responsible eco-tourism, recreational opportunities, and other compatible land uses.
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Why are cities and parishes interested in Blueways?
- Just like hiking and biking trails, paddling trails make a community a more desirable place to live and play.
- Blueways protect water quality by encouraging protection of stream-side buffers.
- Eco-tourism is important to communities where access to nature is available. Blueways enhance the desirability of a community to visitors.
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What role does LTL play in developing a Blueway?
LTL educates elected officials and citizens about the concept of a Blueway and helps to build a coalition of partners (landowners, community groups, local, state and federal agencies, and other land trusts) to achieve the mission and vision.
If private landowners are interested in protecting the property along the rivers and streams, the Land Trust for Louisiana is able to work with them to establish a conservation easement on the property in a way that protects it in perpetuity and, in many cases, provides additional benefits to the landowner. The Land Trust will typically hold the conservation easement and monitor the property to ensure its protection.
In keeping with our mission to protect valuable natural areas and in particular to protect the riparian buffers that are so important to protecting waterways the Land Trust for Louisiana initiated a discussion with St. Tammany Parish and the City of Covington on May 16, 2013. The response was VERY positive with commitments form both the city and the parish to work with LTL on this project. For the next year and a half, the team continued to work on the plan and submitted a grant proposal to get assistance from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Areas staff. The project kicked into a much more active phase at that time.
In the year and a half since then, the group met monthly, held four public meetings, took two different trips on the river to better understand what needed to be done for the project.
While the initial vision for the Blueway was for a shorter trail, input from the local paddlers greatly expanded the length of the trail upriver on both the Little Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya rivers.(See map here).
During the time the committee has been meeting, at the parish’s suggestion, began to think of the Three Rivers Blueway as part of a “St. Tammany Trails” system, including both walking / biking trails and water trails. Also during this time, the parish has been looking at how the Three Rivers Blueway can be more than a demonstration project for additional St. Tammany Blueways. St. Tammany is working with the Lt. Governor’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries & it’s Scenic Streams department, the Louisiana State Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to make this a statewide effort.
Upon hearing about the project, the Covington Rotary Club decided to dedicate part of the funds raised at the 2016 Quack-a-Falaya fundraiser (May 14, 2016) to the project.