Geotourism in the Sicily Island Hills Region

Posted: May 26, 2009 in Homepage
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Geotourism is according to the U.S. Travel Association, tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

Imagine an area in Louisiana much different than other areas of the state. Steep terrain and deep forests provide tantalizing hiking trails which include waterfalls. Rock formations are visible along streams within the hills and rocks can be seen by boaters and jet skiers along a stretch of the Ouachita River which would normally be devoid of such sights in this part of the country. Migratory birds attract birdwatchers, biologists and botanists roam these hills looking for endangered or rare animal and plant life. Maybe a group of friends decide to go to SIHWMA  for a weekend of primitive camping.  In the not so distant future,  Harrisonburg and Sicily Island play host to those who wish to stroll the streets of these quaint villages in search of treasures in the many art and antique shops. Bed and breakfast accomodations begin sprouting up. A food festival becomes a yearly event. The Sicily Island Hills 5K, 10K or marathon T-Shirt could become a sought after item from each annual classic. A Friends of the Sicily Island Hills group is formed to preserve habitat and promote education of the most precious hills in Louisiana.  It could happen because it has happened elsewhere.

Helen, Georgia and Leavenworth, Washington are just two examples of places dependent on the timber industry, that pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and became tourist destinations. I have been to both of these places and who is to say the Sicily Island Hills region could not do the same?

From a personal standpoint I would love to see the forest lookout tower rebuilt on the sight on which it originally stood. With modern design improvements, it could be utilized for overnight lodging and the money charged per night could be used for projects within the WMA.

A former sleepy unknown national treasure called Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge has been thrust into the national and international spotlight because of the work of the staff there, professors at the University of Louisiana-Monroe,  and the Friends of Black Bayou Lake NWR. This friends group was chosen not long ago as the best support group of a NWR in the entire country!  A frequent visitor to Black Bayou Lake NWR submitted a photo he took of great egrets taking  flight in fog, to the National Wildlife Refuge Association Photo Contest and won the top prize in 2008.

Great things can happen when people open their hearts and minds. This could happen in the Sicily Island Hills.

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