Cane River, Natchitoches to receive National Park Service Community Assistance Grant

The National Park Service (NPS) Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) announced on July 7 the selection of nine new communities and partners across the South Atlantic-Gulf Region to receive expert NPS consultation to help spur local recreation, conservation, and economic development opportunities.

The recipients were selected through a competitive process and will receive assistance to help make their rivers, trails, greenways, and open spaces vital, life-enhancing parts of their communities.

“The RTCA assistance program helps the NPS advance its stewardship mission while expanding local outdoor recreation options,” said Deirdre Hewitt, regional RTCA program manager, NPS. “By investing in the future of communities across the southeast, we create new opportunities for people of all backgrounds to explore, experience, and enjoy this region.”

In Louisiana, the Natchitoches and Cane River Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan was selected to establish a recreation and conservation network that’s accessible and connected to local communities and the city of Natchitoches. The Cane River National Heritage Area (CRNHA) preserves the unique cultural, historic, and natural landscape of the Cane River region. The heritage area features an abundance of outdoor recreational possibilities including boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and camping along the 35-mile-long Cane River Lake.

“Over the years, Natchitoches residents and community partners have had great success in leading grassroots efforts to build a consistent preservation and cultural conservation mindset,” remarked Rebecca Blankenbaker, Cane River National Heritage Area Executive Director. By comparison, our outdoor recreation planning, and natural resource conservation has lagged, with individual projects developing sporadically rather than a deliberate and planned approach. “As recreational tourism builds in the region, we’re hopeful that this project will allow us to build consensus and develop a plan with community partners for a long-term outdoor recreation strategy that incorporates existing resources and identifies future projects and strategies,” continued Blankenbaker.

CRNHA, a non-profit that uses a grassroots approach to heritage conservation and economic development, is partnering with the NPS’s RTCA and National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) Programs, along with local community groups to develop an outdoor recreation plan that identifies and maps these recreational resources and opportunities throughout the 116,000 acres of the heritage area.

“We are excited to participate in this community-led planning effort to improve recreation and conservation opportunities for everyone across Natchitoches,” said Andy Ferrell, NCPTT deputy director.