Navigating the Vermilion River just became much easier, thanks to a Web application made through a partnership among the Bayou Vermilion District, Lafayette Consolidated Government and technology firm CGI Federal.
From the North Landing underneath Interstate 10 to where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the new app points out rest stops, bars, bridges, camping areas and landmarks for canoers and kayakers paddling down the river.
“With new technologies, we felt that the best thing to do was to offer people information about canoeing, kayaking and boating on the bayou,” said Bayou Vermilion District Recreation and Education Coordinator Greg Guidroz, who collected the information for the paddle trail map and helped determine the coordinates for the app.
There are 73 areas on the map highlighting points of interest along the 33-mile stretch of river.
“It can tell you where you can put in, where you can take out, where you can go to the bathroom, where you can stop and go to the store,” Guidroz said.
Each point on the app is highlighted with a picture and text .
“One of the things I like about it is that it provided sort of a play-by-play by describing key sites along the river,” said Jason El Koubi, president and CEO of the regional business group One Acadiana and an avid kayaker who tried the app on his smartphone last weekend. “It was a great tool for understanding what I was seeing along the way.”
He said the app made it easy to determine the best place to put his kayak in, as well finding the street address for the launch.
“It really enhanced my experience of the river,” he said. “It’s a terrific tool for paddlers, whether it’s a short trip or a long trip.”
Guidroz said the original plan was to map points of interest from the headwaters in Arnaudville to Palmetto State Park south of Abbeville, but they decided to stop at the North Landing under I-10.
“There’s nothing really north of the North Landing,” Bayou Vermilion District CEO David Cheramie said. “You could put in from Arnaudville, but it’s not a very practical access point. Eventually, we would like to expand this as far north as Arnaudville.”
CGI Federal, the Canadian IT firm opening a branch in Lafayette, developed the Web app.
CGI punched in Guidroz’s coordinates and built the site’s user interface.
“They graciously supplied the software technology and templates for the website,” Cheramie said.
LCG provided the server space to host the website.
Another way Cheramie said the app can help the Vermilion River is by raising awareness of the amount of pollution the bayou receives from people every day by garnering interest in navigating the river by canoe or kayak.
“They say, ‘Well, we pay people to pick that up,’ ” he said. “Or maybe they think that the trash goes away, but I think by getting more people out on the bayou and more awareness, they’ll understand that this is where away is.
“Anything you throw out in Lafayette, it will eventually find its way into the storm drains and the coulees, ending up in the bayou. This app is part of the whole beautification process, for people to be more aware of the natural beauty we have here and are better stewards of it.”
Those interested in exploring the bayou can access the app by visiting http://apps.lafayettela.gov/paddletrail.
The Bayou Vermilion District operates historic Vermilionville and promotes the conservation and recreational use of the bayou.
“We’re right here on the bayou,” Cheramie said. “We have a canoe and kayak launch on-site, so they could come and have lunch at our restaurant, too.”