Hike funding

Master plan developed for Sebastian County Park; financing to be sought from Quorum Court OK

Population

Midland had a population of 227 as of April 1, 2020.

Source: United States Census Bureau

MIDLAND – Sebastian County is looking to expand recreational opportunities at one of its parks with the help of outside funding.

Sebastian County Park Administrator and Golf Course Superintendent Jay Randolph provided a plan for Bob Boyer Park in Midland to the Court of Quorum at its April 19 meeting. The plan, prepared by Bentonville-based Progressive Trail Design, includes additional trail designs, as well as other features such as pavilions, elevated boardwalks, mountain bike flyovers, alternate parking, flag poles, and more. hitch for horses and poles for bicycles.

County Judge David Hudson told the meeting the county could get a Recreational Trails Program grant through the Arkansas Department of Transportation to help defray the costs of implementing the plan. . The Quorum Court is expected to consider allowing the county to apply for a grant at its May 17 meeting.

Hudson said Thursday the county would expand that grant based on the implementation of phase one of the plan, which tops “somewhere over $350,000.”

Randolph said Thursday that implementing the plan would open Bob Boyer Park to more recreation enthusiasts who already use several areas for mountain biking and hiking, especially in northwest Arkansas. It would also provide a significant economic boost to Midland and Sebastian County in terms of money spent by people who would be attracted to the park and increased property value for property owners near the park.

The Walton Family Foundation worked with PeopleForBikes and BikeNWA to commission BBC Research & Consulting to study the economic and health benefits of cycling in northwest Arkansas. The study, released in March 2018, found that bicycling in northwest Arkansas provides approximately $137 million in total economic benefits for the region each year. This includes about $51 million in business benefits and about $86 million in health benefits. It also determined that proximity of a typical area residence to shared-use paved pathways is associated with an increase in sale price, although the study excluded homes sold in Fayetteville.

Randolph said implementing the master could allow Bob Boyer Park to serve as an alternative for residents of northwest Arkansas who want to experience trails further from urban areas such as Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville. . Locations already used for this purpose include Devil’s Den, Mount Magazine, and Mount Nebo State Parks.

“I was just talking to one of our trail builders, and they were telling me that people in northwest Arkansas, even though there’s a ton of trails, miles and miles of trails, it’s all in the middle of town, and while it’s great to walk those trails, they miss that ‘get outside and walk the trails,’” Randolph said.

The park

Bob Boyer Park, which spans about 450 acres, has historically been used for hiking and equestrian activity, according to Randolph. It is home to a varied landscape with elevation changes, at least six waterfalls, glades, and an assortment of plants.

The park also has about 7 miles of trails, although Randolph described them as “very, very rough and rough”. Progressive Trail Design has corroborated this in its plan, which indicates that all types of visitors currently share the same trails.

“As a result, the current condition of the trails varies widely, ranging from well-maintained to extremely steep eroded washes,” the plan reads. “The difficulty level of the trail system lacks consistency, with some sections of trail starting with very relaxed inclines that turn into steep climbs.”

According to the study, the company found that the lack of a consistent trail experience, proper wayfinding, and educational signage at Bob Boyer Park negatively affects a visitor’s interaction with it.

Randolph said the trails outlined in the plan will make it easier for visitors to access areas of interest in the park.

“Some of these areas of the park will have limited access, or only foot traffic, or possibly boardwalks that you can only get out to a certain extent, because some of these areas, like these clearings, will be very, very sensitive, and we don’t want foot traffic in those areas,” Randolph said.

The plan

The quorum court approved the release of $24,000 to develop a trail network plan for the park as part of a larger appropriation at its April 20, 2021 meeting, according to meeting minutes.

Randolph said a steering committee was assembled to provide feedback on the plan as it was developed. This committee was made up of approximately 12 people, including staff from the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District based in Fort Smith, those who lived in or near Midland and regularly used Bob Boyer Park, as well as local avid hikers and mountain bikers. The county received the full plan in February.

The plan calls for the creation of a main access trail allowing people to travel on foot, horseback or bicycle to the westernmost area of ​​the park from its eastern entrance. The trail would split into smaller, more specialized trails at various locations, with pedestrian-only trails optimized for equestrian sports and bike trails with varying degrees of difficulty being planned, along with other access trails secondaries designed to get people there.

Randolph said the plan includes about 10 miles of trails where mountain bikes can go, about 7-8 miles for hiking, and just over 4 miles of horse access. The county receives three quotes from three companies to implement the plan, which is to be completed in stages beginning with the primary access trail, a secondary access trail and a walking trail that collectively extend down the east side of the park on the west side. . The plan would be subject to change during construction.

Hudson said Thursday the county has until June 1 to submit an application for the Recreational Trails Program grant. The program provides an 80% federal share and a 20% non-federal match for eligible projects, the latter of which may be in-kind, according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation website.

Playground equipment is seen Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Bob Boyer Park in Midland. The Sebastian County Quorum Court is set to consider a resolution allowing the county to apply for grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to help implement part of a master plan for the park. , which includes designs for additional pathways, pavilions, and elevated boardwalks. Visit nwaonline.com/220501Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
photo Playground equipment is seen Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Bob Boyer Park in Midland. The Sebastian County Quorum Court is set to consider a resolution allowing the county to apply for grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to help implement part of a master plan for the park. , which includes designs for additional pathways, pavilions, and elevated boardwalks. Visit nwaonline.com/220501Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
photo A sign for Sebastian County Parks is seen Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Bob Boyer Park in Midland. The Sebastian County Quorum Court is set to consider a resolution allowing the county to apply for grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to help implement part of a master plan for the park. , which includes designs for additional pathways, pavilions, and elevated boardwalks. Visit nwaonline.com/220501Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)