Talkin' Outdoors

If ever there was a visionary, a person who could look at something and imagine what it could become, it was Ruston’s Fredrick Hoogland.

“When I stepped up on a bluff that spring day in the late 1970s and saw what lay before me, I’m sure if somebody had heard me, they’d have thought I was an evangelist praising the Lord. I’ve never had an experience quite like that; I was overcome with emotion, realizing that my prayers had been answered. There was no doubt in my mind that here was the site that would ultimately become the park I’d dreamed of since high school,” Hoogland told me one day some 15 years ago.

The land was finally acquired in 1981 and Lincoln Parish Park was officially dedicated in March, 1990.

I have purchased a yearly permit to the park for the past dozen or so years and this is one of the best investments I have ever made.

What do I get in return for my investment? I don’t know where I can find the beauty, the peace, the tranquility like I find when I enter the gate and slowly drive the hard surfaced roads within the park.

There was a time when my daily visits included a brisk one mile walk around the perimeter of the 30 acre lake. Today, my visits are more sedentary, slowly driving with my wife and our pup, Rufus, stopping in the shade to watch the ducks and squirrels, see deer leisurely browsing, snap a photo of a bird or spreading our lunch on one of the picnic tables overlooking the lake.

One day last year, I arrived at the park and was absolutely shocked at what I observed; the beautiful lake had been virtually drained. What the heck had happened to the water?

My worries were quickly put to rest when James Ramsaur, Park Director, explained.

“We contracted with an oil/gas exploration company to purchase water from our lake, water needed for the company’s drilling operation. We’ve sold water to the company twice,” said Ramsaur. To my surprise and delight, after the first good rain over the area, the lake was again full.

What did the income derived from the sale of water do for the park? Ramsaur shared a list of projects completed or on-going that has been the direct result of the some $380,000 received from water sales.

“Wifi is now accessible to the campground, beach area as well as the pavilions. We now have 110 power available to each tent site in the primitive area. Also, we re-roofed all the pavilions and repaired the walking path around the lake,” said Ramsaur.

“In addition, the road to the beach has been repaved and a big one for us is we have redesigned the mountain bike trail. Sixteen campsites have been rebuilt and more recently, we have been able to establish a scenic waterfall along one of the streams feeding the area.”

Lincoln Parish Park became fully operational in March, 1990 and by 1995, was averaging some 70,000 visitors a year. Today, according to employee Joe Lanning who keeps up with the numbers, that figure has expanded to nearly 90,000 visits annually.

With everything Lincoln Parish Park has going for it, I remember a statement Fredrick Hoogland once made that wraps the whole process into a neat attractive package for visitors from across the country to enjoy.

“This diamond in the rough has been turned into the jewel it is today.” What we enjoy at the park is the result of the dream of this one man, Fredrick Hoogland, to whom we owe so much.