Corps plans to beef up spillway for off-road recreation
Last year, an estimated 400,000 people visited the Bonnet Carré Spillway, and while more than a quarter of that number was likely due to the spillway’s opening, the rest was because of the recreational opportunities offered there.
Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to beef up recreation at the spillway while making other improvements in the name of comfort.
Currently, visitors to the spillway can fish, ride ATVs, camp, hunt, boat and ride bikes. A new master plan proposed by the corps would expand those opportunities, while also creating an area for horseback riding and a track for 4-wheel drive trucks.
“Recently, we have seen a lot more people riding horses, and that’s something we really want to keep,” Spillway manager Chris Brantley said. “We would like to create an area at the spillway just for that.”
As for the off-road trucks, Brantley said that was something the spillway used to offer, but it got out of hand. Now, the corps has been working with a local club to determine the best way to allow trucking somewhere on the spillway’s nearly 8,000 acres.
“The local club has gotten insurance, and we’d like to create a designated track area for them to ride,” Brantley said. “It would be something that would only be used on a limited basis, for special shows or for holidays.”
But those are just two of the many improvements the corps hopes to make at the spillway.
The master plan also calls for nicer restroom facilities, which Brantley said is something the corps is asked to do every year, and relocating the spillway’s administration building from River Road to Airline Drive.
“We think that by relocating the office, we will be able to capture more visitors from Airline,” Brantley said.
As for fishing, the proposed master plan would allow more bank fishing and crawfishing, improve the channel to Lake Pontchartrain for boaters and increase the areas that ATV riders are able to visit for hunting or fishing purposes.
“We allowed ATV riders to travel to more areas last year, and it was really successful,” Brantley said.
And for those that wish to ride bikes at the spillway, the proposed plan calls for a new bicycle trail.
“We also want to improve the road system and make landscaping improvements,” Brantley said.
The corps has already held one meeting to discuss the plan with the public, and will hold another at the spillway pavilion north of Airline Drive on May 16 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can also make comments on the proposed plan online by visiting www.mvn.usace.mil/recreation.
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