Cane River Creole National Historical Park will host an AmeriCorps NCCC crew for a project at the park’s Magnolia Plantation unit March 16-April 18. AmeriCorps NCCC is a national service program that strengthens communities and develops leaders through residential, team-based national and community service. Teams work on service projects, helping communities meet their most compelling needs while developing its members personally and professionally. The AmeriCorps team will build a new trail and wayfinding system throughout Magnolia Plantation to provide safe and accessible access to the site and its historic structures.
Cane River Creole NHP staff will provide the needed direction, supplies, training, and tools to the AmeriCorps crew to complete the new trail system. Working alongside the AmeriCorps crew, park staff will provide guidance and direction about how to route and build the network of trails. The park uses a rubber mat system for its trails, which has been previously installed at Oakland Plantation. The mat system requires minimal ground disturbance, a hard yet flexible surface for wheelchairs, and blends into the cultural landscape with minimal visual intrusion. One small trail footbridge will also need to be built in low-lying areas with standing water. In addition to the trail system, an informational kiosk and wayfinding signs will also be erected at key locations to aid visitors navigating the site. Once completed, visitors and local residents will have a new trail system to use for recreational opportunities.
According to Park Superintendent Carrie Mardorf: “Using an AmeriCorps crew to complete this work will not only complete a critical project that would otherwise take years to complete, but also create awareness that the NPS increasing operational and preservation efforts at Magnolia Plantation. This trails and wayfinding project will be a kick-off to other projects and site improvements at Magnolia expected within the next 1-5 years, thus fostering relationships with the surrounding local community and plantation descendants.”
In addition to working with National Park Service staff, AmeriCorps crew members will have an opportunity to also learn the history of the area through interactions with family descendants with ties to Magnolia Plantation. Cane River Creole NHP anticipates also partnering with the Cane River National Heritage Area to increase awareness of the project within the community.