Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday, October 10, 2023, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by representatives from VisitHATTIESBURG, the Piney Woods Conservation Group, Forrest County Board of Supervisors and Hattiesburg-area legislative delegation to announce a $480,000 grant from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Grant Program to improve public access to the Leaf River via Sims Road in Southeast Hattiesburg.
This grant funding will assist with the development of the Sims Road waterway access, a location that is a critical output site for the Leaf River. It will include reconstructing the ramp at a standard slope range and adding three pavilion picnic areas, vehicle and trailer parking, boat and kayak launches designed for fluctuating water levels, an ADA-accessible path to the water and a cleared landing for anglers.
At completion, this access point would allow for a 9.6-mile route called the Middle Leaf Route along the Pinebelt Blueways.
“This added access point to the Leaf River through Sims Road will continue to boost Hattiesburg’s role in eco-tourism while aiding in the continued development and improvement of the Pinebelt Blueways – a private and public partnership that promotes our existing waterways as a tourist attraction,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We continue to push our trajectory in becoming a premier city in the Gulf South forward. I’m proud of the work our team, local delegation, community partners and more have contributed to this effort – especially here in Southeast Hattiesburg.”
Additional notes about the project include:
- This site will be maintained and managed through the City of Hattiesburg’s Parks and
- Recreation Department.
- Lighting and security cameras will be installed to discourage vandalism and other crime, as well as routine patrols by the Hattiesburg Police Department.
- After construction, the park and pathway area will be gated and closed from dusk until dawn to prevent loitering.
In addition to the grant funding, this project is supplemented by contributions through the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, VisitHATTIESBURG and the Piney Woods Conservation Group. Engineering designs for the application were completed by Neel-Schaffer.
The design phase for this project will begin immediately.