Posted: Sep 3, 2022, 8:33 AM
Bossier Parish is on the receiving end of a $700,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Land Water Conservation Fund to improve and increase facilities at Parish Camp, located on the southern end of Lake Bistineau off Fairview Point Rd.
Bossier Parish Director of Parks and Recreation Warren Saucier said the parish received notification of approval on August 19.
"We were tickled to death to see this (grant approval) come through. It's something we've been working on for about three years," he said. "With this money we plan to make improvements along with some expansion that will make Parish Camp an even more attractive place for visitors."
Saucier said the grant gives him resources to expand a facility that is already attracting good numbers of fishermen, campers and sightseers.
"We're planning to increase the parking areas and add a handicapped parking section," he said. "We're going to expand the new pier and make it handicapped accessible for those who want to fish or just enjoy the lake. And, we want to widen Public Camp Road, the entrance to the area."
Plans call for tripling the size of the current boat launch, plus the addition of a staging area for boats waiting to be launched or those just coming out of the water. A new sea wall will be added from the launch area to the camp's property line.
"One of the delays at a boat launch is the lack of space for boats waiting to get into or out of the water. We're going to take care of that by adding a sizeable area adjoining the launch so boaters won't have much waiting time," Saucier said.
Also on the drawing board are plans to begin clearing and leveling work on an adjoining 22 acres purchased a little over a year ago by the police jury. Plans call for a 40-space truck/boat trailer parking lot that Saucier says will mean more available parking for visitors who are not at the park to hunt or fish.
For longer-term visitors at the park, Saucier said camping areas will be expanded and an area designated for up to eight recreational vehicles will be prepared.
A pair of police jury members who have been users at Parish Camp for years see the planned improvements as another tool that will help improve quality of life in Bossier Parish.
"I remember when just about all we could do was keep Parish Camp as clean as possible because we simply didn't have the money to do anything else," said police jury Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Mac Plummer. Plummer represents District 12 in south Bossier Parish.
"These improvements are going to benefit so many because it adds to the quality of life in Bossier Parish. A lot of people have worked very hard to make this happen and I'm excited about what it will mean for our parish, " he said.
Parish Camp is located in police jury member Bob Brotherton's district, and he's been looking forward to the day the facility could be upgraded and meet its potential.
"This is a facility that isn't as well-known as some of our others, but it has so much to offer," he said. "With these improvements I believe we can attract more visitors and perhaps host some high school or other fishing tournaments. We will be able to handle more and larger boats, and offer expanded camping opportunities."
Brotherton said receiving the grant proves that patience often pays off in the long run.
"We've been working on this for some time, and I'm happy that the efforts have been rewarded," he said. "I've used this facility for many years and it's going to be a real pleasure to see Parish Camp reach its full potential."
Saucier said a kick-off meeting to discuss plans for the project will be held soon.
"I'm hoping we will be able to establish some timelines for the work down there," he said. "I would like to see us go out for bids by November of this year and, if everything goes well, I'd love to see us finish the project by the Fall of 2023. I know that might sound ambitious, but I believe we can get it done."