Updates coming for Longleaf Trace

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2020

During the 2020 legislative session, District 41 State Senator Joey Fillingane, who covers Jefferson Davis, Smith, Covington, Lamar and Forrest counties, successfully advocated for infrastructure improvements to the Longleaf Trace, Rails-to-Trails project located in his district.

Senator Fillingane, along with his fellow legislators, was able to secure $500,000 (from the BP Settlement Funds paid to the State of Mississippi due to the BP oil spill) for infrastructure improvements on the Longleaf Trace, Mississippi’s first Rails-to-Trails conservancy project.

It is notable that the funds appropriated for these improvements to the Trace are not tax dollars but settlement monies paid to the state of Mississippi, so this will not cost the taxpayers of Mississippi any money.

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The Longleaf Trace was opened for public use in 2000.

It is considered, by users to be one of the nature’s finest recreational trails anywhere.  The Trace in 2004 was added to the prestigious list of “National Recreational Trails” and in 2010 was further honored by being named as a “Rails to Trails Conservation Hall of Fame Project (top 25)”.

The Trace consists of 43 miles, 10 to 14-foot wide asphalt surfaced for hiking, biking, blading and a parallel 25+ miles, 15-25 feet wide native soil equestrian trail.

The Trace runs from Prentiss to Hattiesburg.  From its western limit in Prentiss there are two gateway facilities, six restroom stations, six activity staging pavilions, 16 nature/rest overlooks, two primitive overnight camping areas and access to Class A camping.

The Trace is maintained and operated at an exceptionally high level, in comparison to typical trails – by its own crew and is open to the public year-round.

Mary Scruggs, director of the Longleaf Trace, states, “The $500,000 that Senator Fillingane and the state legislature appropriated for the Longleaf Trace will be used to improve/replace several bridges along the Trace in Lamar and Jefferson Davis Counties, and any monies left over from that bridge upgrades/replacements will then be applied to the repaving costs of the Longleaf Trace which we hope to accomplish as soon as the bridges are improved.

The goal is to make the Trace safe for years to come for everyone who uses the Longleaf Trace.   We are very thankful for these much-needed funds and thank Senator Fillingane who took the lead on securing these funds for the Longleaf Trace for his efforts.”

Senator Joey Fillingane added, “I am very pleased that I was able to secure the $500,000 to replace the bridges and begin the repaving of the Longleaf Trace.

The Longleaf Trace is a jewel of the Pine Belt and it is incumbent upon us to preserve and improve this trail and make certain that it is safe for our citizens to use for years to come.”