Agritourism business grows in Louisiana
Louisiana birds and wildlife habitat considered commonplace by local residents are considered exotic and fascinating by many out-of-state visitors looking for the different and unusual, according to speakers at an agritourism workshop on Feb. 11.
The event was jointly by the LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University to explain how to start a business based on agritourism or ecotourism.
Bobby Jordan of the Grosse Savanne Waterfowl and Wildlife Lodge said sandhill cranes and crested caracara are becoming more numerous in the area, and a bald eagle is often spotted in the Cameron Parish marsh.
He enjoys seeing the reaction of guests when they spot a bird for the first time.
Fishing and birding guide Sammy Faulk, also chairman of the Cameron Parish Tourism Commission, said he has guided birdwatchers numerous times during his outdoor career since 1987, including the late Roger Tory Peterson, a well-known naturalist and wildlife illustrator.
Dave Patton, a birder and coordinator of the Peveto Woods Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Cameron Parish, said the sanctuary’s logbook shows visitors from Australia, Canada, Germany and numerous states.
He said the birding location has become well-known just by word-of-mouth.
Eddie Romero, who owns citrus and nut orchards near New Iberia, said he hosted a group of French tourists recently, and they were fascinated by his two-acre crawfish pond.
Twyla Herrington, LSU AgCenter area fisheries agent in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, said several business have started up in her area since Louisiana has gained widespread attention from several reality TV shows.
Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator, said a special Louisiana limited liability law protects agritourism businesses, but procedures have to be followed closely and insurance is needed.
Also at the workshop, organizers of the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival here at home in Jefferson Davis Parish gave an overview of the event, which was started in 2006. Birders from across the nation have attended the festival to get a glimpse of an elusive, small bird called a yellow rail that can be seen during rice harvest.
The Creole Nature Trail that runs through Cameron and Calcasieu parishes are attracting lots of attention, as more than 250,000 visitors use the highway route through the marsh each year.
With so much to do and see and experience in the State of Louisiana, it’s no wonder that agritourism appears to be booming in many of the state’s parishes. Jeff Davis Parish is no exception, and with our own share of crawfish fields, flocks of unique birds and our own Lacassine Wildlife Refuge, Flyway Byway and area waterways, tourists will continue to have reasons to stop and see what Jeff Davis Parish has to offer – we just have to be willing to show off a little.
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