(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, January 03, 2013 7:55 PM
The Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to bring more attention to a national destination with a new interpretive center in Sulphur.
The facility will house exhibits informing visitors of everything they can find along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, including where they can see alligators.
Shelley Johnson, visitors bureau executive director, said a similar center was located on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge until Hurricane Rita “wiped it out.” She said some aspects of the area were replaced only to be destroyed again by Hurricane Ike.
“That center was a primary stop where people could get out and get information about the Creole Nature Trail; it was a major site on the west side of the trail for visitors,” she said. “After Hurricane Ike, it dawned on us that it wouldn’t be a good idea to put another center there.”
The new center, which will be at the intersection of Arena Road and La. 27, will be at the start of the Creole Nature Trail just south of Interstate 10 — which Johnson said will draw even more people to the trail.
“Thousands of people enter Sulphur for annual tournaments and things like that,” she said. “This could pull even more people to the trail. It’s certainly going to help visitors and pull people off the interstate and get them interested in what the Creole Nature Trail is all about.”
Johnson said about 100,000 people visited the previous center each year.
The project is being funded by $2.5 million in revenue bonds from the State Bond Commission.
The Creole Nature Trail — a 180-mile drive beginning in Sulphur, winding through Cameron and ending in Lake Charles — was named an All-American Road, which is the highest designation a byway can receive, in 2002.
Johnson said the project is in the early stages and will take about two years to complete.