The weather’s about to turn into those crisp delightful fall days that make us want to take a walk in the woods or enjoy a picnic by the lake. Bossier Parish residents may want to take the opportunity to enjoy a few of these fall days at Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District (CBB) in north Bossier.
Such a visit would also provide a number of good reasons to favorably consider CBB’s 1.54 mill property tax renewal on the November 4 ballot.
This public park encompasses about 350 acres, with Cypress Lake (3,300 acres) and Black Bayou (780 acres), all of which provided for a host of fishing, camping and recreation and special event opportunities. The park features 75 RV spots in the dedicated area and another 20 overflow spots – and on holiday weekends like Memorial Day and July 4th, the RV areas are packed.
Additionally the park includes three cabins and three cottages available to the public, along with a primitive camping area. And the three picnic shelters are very popular this time of year for family reunions, church groups and similar gatherings. There’s a beach, playground, and hiking trails – and that’s the short list.
And improvements to about all aspects of the park have been the focus of the facility’s board and administration for the last 18 months.
Interim Executive Director Robert Berry explained that for nearly 30 years, significant upgrades apparently weren’t at the top of the list for the park leadership – but that’s recently changed. Two of the parks piers have been rebuilt/renovated; electric improvements have been made – with more on the way. Next year the sewer system in the RV area will be upgraded to better serve guests and 11 miles of mountain bike trails are on the way. The beaches, pavilions, Nature Center, cabins and spillway structures are all on the board’s radar to improve and upgrade.
Berry, who is also a member of the CBB board, said that implementing new technology in fiscal management has also allowed the board to improve accounting for the park’s general income which includes such as gate receipts and boat launch fees.
The park has also implemented a timber management program that protects CBB’s beautiful wooded area and allows for the occasional and necessary timber cutting – the sale of which benefits the park.
Another cost savings resulted from discontinuing the use of private security in favor of an agreement with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office for the use of commissioned deputies at specific times during the week, particularly on weekends. Berry said this action cut the private security annual cost of $230,000 in half – and where disruptive folks may have been inclined to be dismissive of the private security folks, that doesn’t happen with Sheriff’s deputies.
CBB is also becoming a “go-to” facility for local, regional and national sports and recreation events. Bossier Parish schools Cross Country event enjoyed record participation, the Regions Archery Tournament. The USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals will be back as CBB and the Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission collaborates to bring more and more visitors to our area.
CBB’s board has scaled back the park’s zoo to what it was originally intended and is adding a unique new element to this element of the park. Teaming up with Bossier schools, Barksdale and state 4-H officials, to incorporate a 4-H collaboration that’s expected to become a national model.
As it happens, children who’s parent’s are stationed at Barksdale AFB, and who live on the base aren’t able to participate in State Fair animal projects because they have no place to house their animals. But that’s about to change as students will be able to use the park’s facility for such projects. Also somewhat unique, five students will work together on the project – just in case there’s a military transfer or two during the school year.
A second group of students will have the opportunity to do the gardening aspect of 4-H. CBB will add a classroom in proximity of the zoo’s barn to facilitate this new addition to the park; the classroom will also be part of the education program already well established at CBB.
The property tax millage for CBB produces about $985,000 per year; the park’s annual operating budget is $1.6 million. The park employs 20 people.
Berry noted that park users should be aware that the board’s October 14 meeting will include discussion about letting bass clubs place artificial reefs in both lakes and getting GPS coordinates for the reefs. Additionally since the new accounting system has allowed for accurate tracking of launch fees – CBB’s board is looking at ways to reduce the cost of annual permits.
Go to the park – walk the trails, have a picnic. This is a Bossier Parish asset every so worthy of our support.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org