The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area (MGCNHA) continues its commitment to provide technical and financial resources to the mapped blueways (water trails) across the Coast. In addition to the Blueways Design Guide that was developed in 2018, wayfinding signage is currently being developed and installed to lead paddlers to and along the blueways in accordance to the standards in the design guide for 13 different blueways. In all, the MGCNHA is working with local government, blueways committee members and volunteers to install:
• 39 roadway/directional signs
• 69 mile markers
• 17 points of interest
• 11 directional signs
Blueways are important to the MS Gulf Coast for many reasons. Bringing awareness to our beautiful waterways fosters conservation and appreciation of our resources. In addition, water trails contribute to the health of the outdoor recreation industry, which includes 145 million Americans who spent $887 billion on outdoor recreation and created $124 billion per year in national, state and local tax revenues, (The Outdoor Recreation Economy, 2017). Investing in outdoor assets attracts employers and employees looking for an enhanced quality of life.
The Gulf Coast Business Council (GCBC) consistently works to drive the Coast’s future economic prosperity and viability. Ashley Edwards, president of the GCBC, says, “millennials represent the largest segment of the United States population, and they are changing the way we approach the development of our communities. Research indicates that millennials are especially attracted to quality of place amenities. The regions that have been most successful in attracting millennials are those regions that are leaders in establishing nature-based tourism options and other quality of life amenities. It is especially important that the Mississippi Gulf Coast consider these factors as we continue to make investments in projects that will enhance our quality of life and our attractiveness as a region.”
Investing in MS Gulf Coast Blueways with the development of a design guide, amenities, signage and publicity is a recommendation of the 2016 Nature-based Tourism Plan for Coastal Mississippi. This plan was developed for the MGCNHA by stakeholders in the industry.
Visit https://gis.dmr.ms.gov/Blueways/ for a story map with pictures, maps and blueway route details.