Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor greenway trail proposed for Brunswick County

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor greenway trail proposed for Brunswick County
An ambitious project is looking to connect two portions of the East Coast Greenway in Brunswick County while recognizing and promoting the history of the Gullah Geechee people who settled across the southern coastal counties in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. (Source: Brunswick County NAACP)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - An ambitious project is looking to connect two portions of the East Coast Greenway in Brunswick County while recognizing and promoting the history of the Gullah Geechee people who settled across the southern coastal counties in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

It’s called the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail, and is being presented by the Brunswick County NAACP. The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor was first designated in 2006 by an act of Congress.

“...The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a National Heritage Area and it was established by the U.S. Congress to recognize the unique culture of the Gullah Geechee people who have traditionally resided in the coastal areas and the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — from Pender County, North Carolina, to St. John’s County, Florida,” according to the Town of Leland’s upcoming agenda

Now, members of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail project and the Brunswick County NAACP are looking to create a greenway connecting to existing pathways at different ends of the county.

In June, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the project, now, the Town of Leland is preparing to offer similar support.

Proposed Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail
Proposed Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail (Source: Town of Leland)

“The proposed Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail project would travel from the Town of Navassa into the Town of Leland along South Navassa Road, then travel south along NC 133 towards the City of Southport. The proposed concept of a Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Multi-Use Greenway/Blueway Trail would convey bicycle and pedestrian traffic into the heart of the Leland community, promote physical health, and provide greater bike/ped connectivity in and the surrounding areas,” according to the Town of Leland’s Town Council agenda.

Planning is already underway for a trail in Navassa heading towards the Leland and Belville area.

“This is a grassroots effort to, develop a concept plan that captures, celebrates and begins the process of developing local, regional and national support for the establishment of a 30-50 mile Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor in Brunswick County in the form of a Greenway/Blueway Trail,” according to a presentation from the NAACP.

The project also includes a proposed heritage museum in Navassa and heritage site.

“The Moze Gullah Geechee Heritage Site will protect a 40- acre habitat that is deemed “vulnerable to extinction.” A scenic recreation area including walking trails, a viewing dock, and a pier with a kayak launch also are planned,” according to the presentation.

While the efforts are still in the planning phase, the organizers already have their next steps planned out and are looking to a variety of sources for support.

Next Steps:

  • Continuing collaboration with our friends at the East Coast Greenways Organization, Brunswick County, Town of Navassa and other surrounding towns and cities as well as Cape Fear Cyclists.
  • Preparation of our application for support from the National Park Service’s River and Trails Group. Due no later than March 2021 with the possibility of early submission.
  • Continued outreach to our community members

The Town of Leland will vote on a resolution in support of the project at the upcoming Town Council meeting on Thursday.

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