HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. - The Army Corps of Engineers, Greers Ferry Project Office, is in the midst of a project aimed to enhance a popular trail and improve the health of a dense pine forest.

The Corps has temporarily closed the Josh Park Memorial Trail until March 2013 to accomplish the work which includes selective thinning of nearby pine stands, replacement of a sewer line that runs through the area and installment of more trail signage.

"The timber stand improvement project will help with the growth of the pine stand that also includes hardwood trees such as oak and hickory," said Greers Ferry Chief Ranger Joe Harper. "Selectively cutting some of the pine trees will open up the stand, it is really choked with trees which has been inhibiting growth. It will enhance trail users' experience by creating better airflow and light."

The Josh Park Memorial Trail enhancements will not only improve forest health and users' experience but will benefit the local economy as well.

"The project is being accomplished by a local logging operation and all the timber that is harvested will go to local lumber and pulp businesses," added Harper.

Built and dedicated in the 1990s, the Josh Park Memorial Trail winds more than a mile through the forested landscape of Dam Site Park off of Highway 25, just north of Heber Springs, Ark. It is used by walkers, runners, bicyclists and is home to an annual multi-school cross-country meet. The trail system includes a vault toilet, drinking water, picnic area and fitness station at the trailhead.

"I walk there quite often," said Larry Tackett, a retiree and resident of Heber Springs. "I take the grandkids there and they love it. It is a fantastic place. We often see turkey and deer on the trail and it's even flat enough for the three-year old."

Tackett said he really appreciates how the Army Corps of Engineers take care of the trail.

"We are blessed to have a spot like that here in Heber Springs," said Tackett. "So many people use it and appreciate it. The Corps takes care of it, keeps it neat, clean and visitor-friendly."

The trail system is named after Josh Park, a local high school student and son of a former Army Corps of Engineers employee, who was killed in a car accident while traveling to a basketball game in Batesville, Ark. Josh was an athlete who excelled in track and cross country.

For more information about the project, call the Greers Ferry Project Office at 501-362-2416.

Recreation information can be found on the Internet at www.swl.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.

Page last updated Wed November 28th, 2012 at 00:00