After nearly two decades of planning, and many obstacles in their path, including hurricanes, lack of money, and lack of staff, the grand opening of the Davis Bayou Trail at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park in Ocean Springs was truly cause for celebration.
The approximately one mile long stroll through previously unexplored country links the Davis Bayou Visitors Center to the camp grounds picnic area, and completes a long dreamed of vision for the trails chief champion Gail Bishop.
"It's like we've been pushing and pushing and we've had things happen and to have this finally happen after so many years since 1987," says Gail Bishop, Chief of Interpretation and Education at the park. "It's just a great day."
Bishop says local support and commitment to their unspoiled environment also helped assure this day would arrive.
"The hearings recently about drilling off shore were a testimony to that," says Ocean Springs residents Charlie Clark. " I think there's a huge sentiment against spoiling our own nest. Most people who live in this area are very intent on preserving the natural beauty of it."
Along with providing another health activity for regular parks visitors, this new trail also provides another vital building block in the parks growing ecotourism infrastructure aimed at attracting visitors from across the nation and the world.
"We love it," says Valerie Prevatte of Lillian Alabama. "This is one of our favorite places to come visit"
"I met a couple from Scotland yesterday," says Bishop. "They're in this country to see what's unique about Mississippi, or Florida, Alabama, the Southeast, What's unique about the United States."
A uniqueness now viewable from a new perspective along Davis Bayou Trail.