Southwest Louisiana’s spectacular natural resources are a unique draw. The Just Imagine SWLA 50-Year Resilience Master Plan envisions a region that fully celebrates and protects its natural and cultural resources. Protecting and enhancing natural resources while improving access is vital for our area. The focus is on achieving these five goals to maximize the potential of these assets.

  • Make the region’s natural beauty and outdoor activities more accessible and family-friendly 
  • Reduce coastal risk 
  • Enhance and create dedicated spaces for gathering and cultural events 
  • Expand SWLA’s network of parks, green spaces, and trails 
  • Preserve natural areas and protect air and water quality 


Bayou Greenbelt

One way Just Imagine SWLA is working to meet the goals of this vision is through the Bayou Greenbelt. A project several years in the making, Bayou Greenbelt strives to establish a 23-mile loop consisting of an interconnected network of blue and green trails that will offer walking, hiking, biking, paddling and kayaking. The project seeks to connect the Kayouchee Coulee with the Contraband Bayou, deepening and widening parts of both waterways. Connecting these waterways would link the four major bodies of water around Lake Charles—the Calcasieu River, English Bayou, Contraband Bayou and Kayouche Coulee. This kind of access to our natural and cultural resources would result in generational change that would fundamentally transform the quality of life. 


Study reviews the loop 

Today, work is underway to make the 23-mile loop a reality. In early February, Just Imagine SWLA, city and parish representatives, as well as stakeholders, gathered to discuss the latest findings from a hydraulic modeling study conducted by The Water Institute of the Gulf. Through a federal grant, the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program hired The Water Institute to model the Bayou Greenbelt. The meeting presented findings on potential impacts on drainage and salinity levels. The results emphasized the project’s strategic potential for improvement. 


Developments along Bayou Greenbelt 

LC Rebound is one effort that is helping to enhance our natural and cultural resources and improve our quality of life. Lake Charles voters approved LC Rebound last fall, which addresses eight of the 11 Just Imagine SWLA catalytic projects: Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation, Nellie Lutcher District, McNeese Area Resilience District, Chennault SOWELA Resilience District, Strong Downtowns, Community Resilience Hubs, Waterfront Development and Bayou Greenbelt.

One project, the Enterprise Boulevard Extension Completion & Bike Trail, would better connect North Lake Charles to downtown, foster economic development, upgrade drainage, including tree planting and landscape enhancements, as well as create and offer pedestrian and family-friendly activities that boost tourism in the region.  

Other improvements under LC Rebound that would impact Bayou Greenbelt include park upgrades that will construct kayak launches at Riverside Park and at McNeese State University near the SEED Center.    

In December 2022, McNeese State University and the community celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Contraband Bayou Improvement Project and the opening of the Richard R. Rhoden Bridge, which now connects campus buildings and residence halls to the main campus. Graphic design students in the McNeese Visual Arts program designed the Bayou Greenbelt logo, which was unveiled at this celebration. 

Construction on the Nelson Road Bridge and Extension Project began last summer. The project involves building a bridge over one mile long across Contraband Bayou, including pedestrian access and connecting Nelson Road to West Sallier Street. The state's Department of Transportation and Development expects the work to be finished in 2026. 

These developments and initiatives not only drive Bayou Greenbelt’s progress but embody a transformative vision for Just Imagine SWLA’s natural and cultural resources. With work underway to improve connectivity, spur economic development and enhance recreational amenities, the region is set for a resilient and vibrant future. 

To learn more about Just Imagine SWLA, visit