Posted April 16, 2015 at 8:15 AM by Amanda Frentz
New Orleans City Park cut the ribbon on a 100-foot pedestrian bridge that was installed between the Volunteer Center and Couturie Forest creating a new entrance to the forest. Near the new bridge, a fence was installed and new gravel parking lot was established.
Couturie Forest is open to the public from 7 am to 8 pm (during daylight savings time). The public should make sure to remove their vehicles from the parking lot by closing time, as gates will be locked.
The bridge arrived on semi-trailers in two 50-foot sections. It was off-loaded by a large crane and then bolted together to form one 100-foot long bridge. The crane then hoisted the bridge over the lagoon and the ends were secured to the previously installed footings.
Couturie Forest is the perfect place to escape from the city without ever leaving town! Combined with Scout Island, the 60-acre site is a nature-lover’s haven filled with native trees, scenic waterways, and fascinating wildlife — all in the heart of the New Orleans. The forest is a great place to wander with your kids, family, and friends. An afternoon along the trails is more than just exciting – it’s an easy way to work in some exercise and learn a thing or two about the park’s rich, natural landscape.
The Couturie Forest Pedestrian Bridge was paid for by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program through the Louisiana Office of State Parks. Matching funds for this grant were provided by New Orleans City Park and Friends of City Park. In all, this project totaled $270,627.00. This pedestrian bridge will provide the new entrance to Couturie Forest. Other upcoming improvements to the area include bike parking and a bike repair station and pump that will also be sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program. Additionally, the temporary gravel parking lot will be upgraded in coming years to a fully paved parking lot with 18 spaces, a water fountain, and an informational kiosk through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Transportation Alternatives Program. These improvements will constitute the Harrison Avenue Trailhead, which will be a hub for alternative transportation routes throughout the Park. This trailhead will connect Couturie Forest’s rugged trails with the Harrison Avenue bike lanes which connect to the bike lanes on Wisner Boulevard and the upcoming bicycle and multi-use path on Marconi that is a Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Transportation Enhancement Project.
The existing parking lot off Harrison has been closed so that Forest users no longer have to exit from and pull back onto busy Harrison Avenue.
Couturie Forest was heavily damaged by Katrina. Ten years later and after the planting of more than 2,000 trees the forest is making a dramatic comeback. The forest is maintained almost 100 percent by volunteers who mulch trails, remove invasive trees, and plant new trees.
Couturie Forest is made up of eight distinct ecosystems and is home to New Orleans’ highest point of elevation: Laborde Mountain. Measuring a daunting 43 feet above sea level, oxygen and sherpas are available upon request.
After Hurricane Katrina, Couturie Forest became a laboratory for the rebirth of a forest. The more often you visit, the more you’ll see the gradual, revitalization taking place, including the restoration of a tree canopy, the eradication of invasive species, and the growth of thousands of new saplings.
Funding for the new bridge and entrance was provided by the Louisiana Recreational Trails Program, New Orleans City Park, and Friends of City Park. And remember: the magic of Couturie Forest wouldn’t be possible without the support and work of volunteers. Visit NewOrleansCityPark.com for information on how you can volunteer or make a donation.