If you've ever had the notion to paddle an unbroken marsh and river trail that meanders for hundreds of miles down America's picturesque Southeast coast, check out the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail (SECT) website. This online resource provides maps and guidance for an over 800-mile trail that extends from Virginia through the Carolinas and down into Georgia, and passes through several National Estuarine Research Reserves along the way.
NOAA's Coastal Zone Management Program, led by the NOS Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), provided funding assistance for the trail, and, together with numerous partners, has played an important role in preserving scenic and pristine areas for paddlers and other recreationists to enjoy.
Trail canoeists and kayakers are reaping the benefits of the Reserve System, a partnership between OCRM and coastal states that protects more than 1.3 million acres of coasts and estuaries for research, monitoring, education, and stewardship. The SECT, for example, winds through the ACE Basin Reserve in South Carolina and the Sapelo Island Reserve in Georgia, and skirts the edges of the North Carolina Reserve and South Carolina's North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve.
The Georgia portion of the SECT was funded by the Georgia Coastal Management Program, which provides a public access site and kayak launch on Butler Island. Georgia also features a connector called the Altamaha River Canoe Trail, where large stretches of protected shoreline were funded by OCRM's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP).
In Virginia, the Seaside Water Trail connects to the SECT, as do Alton's Creek boardwalk and canoe launch and West Neck Creek's canoe access and nature trail. The Virginia Coastal Management Program funded all three of these projects.
"NOAA and the state coastal zone programs work hard to keep coastal areas as accessible, healthy, and resilient as possible," says CELCP Program Manager Elaine Vaudreuil.