Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arkansas Trails Day Event: Revised Plan

Thanks to Bert Turner for providing this announcement and the following press release regarding Arkansas Trails Day activities. This represents a change in plans due to flooding in North Little Rock's Burns Park:


I regret to inform you that the Arkansas Trails Council has decided to cancel ONLY the Burns Park activities for Trails Day.  Trails Day events are going on in other venues around the state, but the forecasts for the Arkansas River water levels at Burns Park make using the River Trail, some of the natural surface trails, some of the parking lots, Victory Lake, and other facilities questionable for Saturday.  We cancelled the canoe trip earlier this week when it became obvious safety on the river was an issue.  The water is supposed to be off of the River Trail late Friday/early Saturday, but that does not give the crews much time to clean up the mess—and if the forecasts are off by a couple of inches or a couple of hours, we could have a very bad logistical situation on our hands for the hundreds of people who were planning to participate.  We looked at ways to move certain events to higher ground, but that created other logistical issues we couldn’t adequately address in time.   

We hate having to cancel those activities, but the water levels and the soaked ground just aren’t conducive to safety and fun, plus we may do more harm than good by misusing the trails and related facilities when they are too wet.  After much deliberation, we decided to cancel all of the events in Burns Park (except the Tour de Rock training ride which can be handled separately) instead of just some because it would get too confusing and we wouldn’t get appropriate representation at the big celebration with only a sliver of the many trail users.

In central Arkansas, the celebration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the completion of the first section of the Ouachita Trail and a hike to follow is still on (see attached).  Lake Sylvia was closed for a time, but it is open again and is expected to remain open.  We hope to see you there. 

We want to thank all of the user groups who had planned such an interesting and complete array of trail events for users of all skill and age levels.  You guys were truly amazing in your enthusiasm to put on such a wonderful celebration of our many trails!  We also want to thank the City of North Little Rock for all of the preparation they put in to help host this event as well as MEMS, Pulaski County, Arkansas State Parks, and other organizations for their fine support. 

This isn’t an email I wanted to write, but if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me directly.  Please express our great disappointment to all of the individuals who planned to hike, ride, bike, paddle, and generally enjoy the great system of trails in central Arkansas.

Thanks again for all of your support!  We look forward to seeing you on the trails in the very near future.


Bert Turner

Chairman, Arkansas Trails Council

....and the press release:

For Immediate Release                                                          Contact:  Debbie Ugbade

April 22, 2011                                                                          Phone:  (501) 321-5202

Arkansas Trails Day Event

HOT SPRINGS, ARK--The Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT), in cooperation with the Ouachita National Forest, is planning an Arkansas Trails Day celebration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the completion of the first section of the Ouachita Trail.  The celebration is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Lake Sylvia Trailhead off of Arkansas Highway 324.   

Friends of the Ouachita Trail is a non-profit organization created by trail users to maintain the Ouachita National Recreation Trail as a healthy and enjoyable outdoor recreational asset. FoOT is organized exclusively to provide assistance for the maintenance, enhancement, and use of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. 

The Arkansas Trails Day celebration planned on May 7 will honor Art Cowley, “Father of the Ouachita Trail” as well as FoOT members who have worked diligently to maintain the Ouachita Trail.  The group will dedicate a boulder-bench and plaque at the Lake Sylvia Trailhead at 10 a.m.  Art Cowley will be remembered for his vision, hard work, and coordination efforts that brought the Ouachita Trail into reality in the early 1970’s. Art’s family and many of the early “pioneers” who worked with Art will be there for the dedication along with staff of the Ouachita National Forest and State Park representatives. This special marker is made possible by a generous donation from the VonBothmer Family Foundation, the Ouachita National Forest, Bennett Brothers Stone Company on Arkansas Highway 7, and Hot Springs Monument Company with coordination provided by FoOT.

Ouachita National Forest Supervisor, Norm Wagoner stated, “The Ouachita Trail is an outdoor treasure made possible by the hard work of many volunteers over the years.” 

The event is coordinated by Loretta Melancon of FoOT.  She may be contacted at (501) 915-8033 for additional information. 

Lake Sylvia is 1.5 miles northwest of Williams Junction on Arkansas Highway 9/10, then south on Arkansas Highway 324 for four miles. Trailhead parking is just beyond the campground entrance.

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