Harris explained the grant is made available through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This is a new grant program that is a cooperative effort between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism's Outdoor Recreation Grants Program.
The Game and Fish Commission says the objective of the Wildlife Observation Trail Grant Program is to provide grants to construct, enhance, extend or renovate trails and support facilities that provide enhanced opportunities for the enjoyment and observation of Arkansas's wildlife by the general public. Projects eligible to be funded by the program are: new trails, renovations of existing trails, extensions or relocations of existing trails with a commitment to open the trails to public use, and are specifically designed to encourage and enhance the ability of the general public to observe wildlife. Trails funded by this program may be either terrestrial or water trails.
The grant program will spend $1 million on various trails throughout the state, with 80 percent of the money available to cities and counties and 20 percent being made available for trails at the state level.
Harris said Cherokee Village will be applying for the maximum amount of $100,000 with no match requirements for the city.
The requirements include the city must own the property for the trail. The city owns 36.82 acres and will utilize 30 acres near Hospital Drive for the project.
The city will be required to maintain the trail for 10 years. Harris explained the city will utilize community service workers for maintenance and upkeep on the paved trail. Although little mowing will be required because the trail will be located in a wooded area to maintain the wildlife habitat, occasional weed eating, as well as trash pickup, will be required.
The city will also need the support of local government and civic organizations. Harris said the Boy Scouts and Master Gardeners would be able to utilize the trail for projects, as well as the schools, as it will include an amphitheatre for interpretive programs.
The gated, paved trail will be approximately three quarters of a mile long and will be wheelchair assessible. Some local nursing homes have also taken an interest in the proposed project for residents to enjoy.
The natural habitat houses many varieties of wildlife and birds.
Council voted to accept the resolution to allow Harris to apply for the grant on behalf of the city. Alderman Tom Thone voted against the proposal.
The grant will be awarded in April 2012. If the city receives the grant, there will be no cost to the city, other than labor for the trail clearing which can be done by the city's street department.