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Sam Houston Jones State Park features tree-filled lagoons and a mixed pine and hardwood forest. A new project aims to preserve the park's longleaf pines. 

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM THE LOUISIANA OFFICE OF STATE PARKS

Kiosk ribbon-cuttings on Monday will celebrate the grand opening of the Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail.

As a culmination to Atchafalaya History Month, ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. at Spring Bayou near Marksville, 398 Spring Bayou Boat Ramp Road; at noon at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center near Breaux Bridge, 1908 Atchafalaya River Highway; and at 3 p.m. at the International Petroleum Museum in Morgan City, 111 First St.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will be joined by local officials and Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, and the Atchafalaya Trace Commission members at the festivities.

"Each of these kiosk locations represents a different geologic or cultural region within the legislatively-designated boundaries of the ANHA. These three kiosks are part of the larger trail delineated by 52 kiosks located at historically, culturally, or geologically significant areas throughout the 14 parishes that make up the ANHA," a news release says.

"The Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail explains our water story — how the water, land and people of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area connect," the release also says.

Meanwhile, Nungesser last week unveiled the Longleaf Legacy Project, a public-private partnership with Sasol in Lake Charles dedicated to the heritage, restoration and sustainability of the longleaf pine forests in Sam Houston Jones State Park in Lake Charles.

The project will cover restoration of more than 70 acres of longleaf forest in the park and companion educational programs for local teachers and families. It is accessible online at www.LongleafLegacy.com, according to a news release. 

"Funded by Sasol, through the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, and implemented by Louisiana State Parks and the Coastal Plain Conservancy, the Longleaf Legacy Project aims to preserve the iconic tree’s rich history, restore the splendor of local forests, and ensure the resiliency of such habitats for generations to come," the release says.

Longleaf pines are the oldest living Southern pine species, and were once one of the most abundant tree species in the United States, stretching across 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. Over time, logging, farming, development, urban encroachment, and fire exclusion have diminished the longleaf pine, leaving less than 4 million acres of longleaf forest and less than 10 percent of their original presence in Louisiana, the release says.

Project partners include Sasol; the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; The Coastal Plain Conservancy; the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana; and Patagonia.

Sam Houston Jones State Park is located at 107 Sutherland Road in Lake Charles.

Arts festival in Houma

The 32nd semiannual Southdown Marketplace Arts & Crafts Festival will be held in Saturday, Nov. 4. 

The festival runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Southdown Plantation House and Museum.

Admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free.

Homemade crafts and fine arts will be featured in up to 300 booths. Products for sale include jewelry, clothes, woodcrafts, furniture, pottery, paintings, photography, toys, dolls, metalwork, floral wreaths, candles, bath and body goods, gourmet food products, seasonal decorations, books by local authors, home-grown plants and flowers, face painting, and much more.

Cajun food will also be for sale, including shrimp jambalaya, corn soup, roast beef po-boys, hot dogs and hamburgers, white beans, and other festival favorites.

Southdown Plantation House and Museum is located at 1208 Museum Drive.

A win-win with Carnival, Brees

Carnival Cruise Line and the (Drew) Brees Dream Foundation have teamed.

The sweepstakes awards a different fan a free cruise each time the New Orleans Saints pass for more than 300 yards in a game during the 2017 season. 

A 17-year veteran and the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, Brees is one of the most prolific passers in NFL history with a record 113 career 300-yard passing games, including the playoffs.

Fans who register at www.carnival.com/saints are automatically entered into the contest which runs for the entire 2017 regular season.

The program is designed to raise funds and bring awareness to the mission of the Brees Dream Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for cancer patients and providing care, education and opportunities for children and families in need, a news release says.

Carnival will make a cash donation to the Brees Dream Foundation.

For full sweepstakes rules and regulations, visit www.carnival.com/saints. Additional information on the Brees Dream Foundation is available at www.drewbrees.com.

Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.