The Sicily Island Hills-Russell Sage Trail

Posted: September 1, 2009 in Homepage
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There isn’t currently a Sicily Island Hills-Russell Sage Trail yet, but there could be someday. Why would I bring up such an idea? Partly because I would love to see more hiking/horseback opportunities throughout Louisiana. And partly from correspondence I had with Larry Savage of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Larry and I were corresponding about wild turkey habitat at the time and not a proposed nature trail. A trail between Monroe and Sicily Island Hills became my idea later.

Look at the interactive map on my Geography page, that is what Larry recommended to me with regards to viewing the reforestation effort of the LDWF in the area NW of Sicily Island Hills WMA.  Due to a lot of hard work a 10,000 acre field was reforested from Boeuf River to the Ouachita River. Larry further stated that,” The reforestation of marginal farmland by LDWF and private landowners (CRP & WRP) has reduced forest fragmentation and will, in the near future, allow mobile wildlife species such as the Louisiana Black Bear and Wild Turkeys the capability of traveling a continuous forested corridor(60+ miles up Boeuf River and Bayou Lafourche) from SIHWMA to Russell Sage WMA north of I-20″.

I love maps and I look at lots of them. From looking at the Louisiana state highway map it had been readily apparent to me for sometime that with wildlife management areas stretching from east of Monroe to Sicily Island Hills wouldn’t that make an incredibly scenic nature trail?  Larry’s reference to the reforestation and continuous forested corridor only solidified my idea.

Look at the Louisiana state highway map. (The following  URL is an older map and is used here for example-NOT for driving purposes, hiking purposes, navigational purposes or any other purposes but only to show general locations) Copy and paste the following URL into your browser and you will see a detailed highway map of Louisiana.

http://www.dotd.state.la.us/maps/2007_Official_Louisiana_Highway_Map.PDF

From Sicily Island Hills going northwest there is the Boeuf River WMA which is enclosed roughly by the Ouachita and Boeuf Rivers. Of a historical note in this area is also the Duty Ferry.  In the northern portion of the WMA  is the Fort Necessity Recreational Area. By the time you reach the Hebert community you are out of the WMA. Now there is a gap as far as WMA’s and one could hike LA 133 to the next leg of your journey to the Ouachita WMA along Bayou LaFourche. As you exit Ouachita WMA you enter Russell Sage WMA also along Bayou LaFourche. The northern edge of Russell Sage ends a few miles north of US 80 near Wham Brake.  An added bonus to this trip would be to continue up LA 139 to LA 134 and then up LA 138 to Collinston and the Kalorama Nature Preserve. This portion of the trip amongst the huge corn and cotton farms is especially nice at sunrise. Kalorama is set in a forested area where the edge of the Bastrop Hills meet the Mississippi alluvial valley.The nature preserve, the property and its history are a story within itself.

There are few primitive camping areas in the wildlife management areas currently. For more information on these wildlife management areas including camping sites click on my link at left for Sicily Island Hills Page Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Once you are on the LDWF Sicily Island page look at the right page margin and click  Select a Wildlife Management Area to seek information on the other WMA’s I have mentioned in this article.

Now as I have said this is an idea and not a real trail. Access to some portions of this proposed trail may not exist either through topography or private property. At this time, I would not suggest hiking such a  route due to too many unknowns. Trespassing is a crime. Respect private property owners rights.

If you are really interested in hiking such a trail, I would instead contact your state representative. A trail of this distance would require a great deal of  funding for the state to even consider it. Would you be willing to pay a fee  for the privilege of hiking this trail? You at the very least would need a Louisiana Wild Stamp to access the wildlife management areas along the way as that is state law now. Would you be willing to volunteer once or more a year to help maintain the hiking trail? Signs must be maintained, trails cleared, weeds or wayward branches removed and of course trash must be dealt with.

But for all this effort and all this money spent what would be so great about a trail in Northeast Louisiana? Access to peace and quiet, leisure or family time might occur and not to mention the economic benefits. If this trail was for people and horses just think of the people who might use it and not just locals but people out of state. There might be opportunities for bed and breakfast accomodations to open in the area. Community stores (some might call” jot em downs”) might enjoy more business. May haw jelly or fruit and vegetables could be sold along the roads of the area as more people visit the general area. Wildflowers could be seen in their native setting. More camping areas might be considered.

I think it would be a great component of the quality of life in Northeast Louisiana.

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