Clay Troutman, Wallace Myers, Madison Shuff and Sidney Sylestine — members of the Jeff Davis Parish Youth Task Force — discuss plans Wednesday for a proposed Flyway Byway scenic route through Jeff Davis Parish. The youths are working with project consultants and tourism officials to provide input into the project, which includes proposed driving routes, bicycle trails, waterways and walking paths. (Doris Maricle / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2014 11:17 AM
JENNINGS — The future of the proposed Flyway Byway began taking shape Wednesday with input from local youths.
Members of the newly formed Jeff Davis Parish Youth Task Force met with project consultants and tourism officials to discuss future plans and ideas for the proposed scenic route through much of the parish.
“The Flyway Byway is a relatively new idea, not only here, but in Louisiana. And it’s kind of a new idea around the country,” consultant David Dahlquist said. “We’ve had parks a long time that provide all kinds of outdoor recreation. But the idea of taking our highways and roadways that are special and promoting them because it’s nice and fun to be in a car or on a motorcycle or on your bicycle or watercraft and being able to experience the countryside and the environment is relatively new.”
The proposed plan incorporates a nearly 55-mile driving route with bike trails, waterways and walking paths, mostly following state highways, through the Jennings, Welsh and Lake Arthur areas.
“There are all kind of things that make this parish really special, and we need to find ways to get people to experience them, not only by vehicle but by bicycle and waterways,” consultant Sergio Capozzi said. “We need to find a way to get people out of their car and link them whether they are on a bike or in a boat. And we need to find a way to make them want to stop at restaurants to eat, stay at hotels ... encourage them to spend some time here and find out what makes this place special.”
Leadership Center for Youth Coordinator Suzanne LaBove said the task force is designed to get youths more involved in their communities through projects, public input and other activities like the Flyway Byway project.
“I hope they are learning the importance of finding ways to get involved in the local community and make it a better place for future generations,” LaBove said. “I love that they are learning how to have their voices heard, approach other people, express their opinions and offer input. They have a lot to say and are very creative.”
Fourteen juniors and seniors and one sophomore from Jeff Davis Parish make up the task force. “I feel we have more of a say in what is going on and can be involved,” Elton High School junior Sidney Sylestine said.
In addition to the Flyway Byway, the students also discussed getting civic clubs involved in local events and festivals, creating an anti-litter campaign and hosting sports-related fundraisers to promote the parish.
Wallace Myers, a junior at Bethel Christian School, said the Flyway Byway is a great idea to get more people involved in the area.
“I think it is a great way to get more people active and enjoying Louisiana which will help promote local businesses and attract more tourists to enjoy our food and hospitality,” he said. “And more people coming to the area will help local businesses and make Jeff Davis Parish known.”
Hathaway High School sophomore Clay Troutman agreed, saying the Flyway Byway is a great way to get youths and adults involved and to learn more about the culture of the area, as well as a way to challenge teens to get outside and get fit.
Troutman said he would like to see more tourist attractions on the bike trial to get people to stop and “learn more about the area and its history.”
Elton High School junior Madison Shuff likes the idea of the designated bike paths. “Where I live you can’t really ride a bike down a dirt road,” she said. Shuff said she would like to see more nature trails added to the route to allow visitors to “be closer to nature.”