New wildlife observation trail opens in Jacksonville

July 21-27, 2014

By Becca Bona

Thanks to a grant awarded from the Game and Fish Commission, the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department opened a new wildlife observation trail in Paradise Park on July 1, 2014. 

Marlo Jackson, Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Manager said that the focus when she was applying for the grant was largely based on education. The trail, she said, “Adds another quality of life through the partnership with the Game and Fish Commission. There can be now be more of an educational focus as well as a fitness element.”

The $86,000 grant comes from the Game and Fish Commission oil and gas reserve. Over a two year period, work went into developing a half-mile paved loop which, amount other things, meets the American Disabilities Act standards. 

Jackson also commented on the time-span it took to pull the project together, “I know two years in the making seems really long, but it went by really fast.”

The new trail includes: bridges, benches, trash cans, a butterfly garden, deer observatory as well as birdhouses. There is space for an outdoor classroom and five exhibit areas. The exhibit ideas came from the schools, drawing heavily on involvement from all ages. 

“Pre-K all the way up to high school was involved … whether it was examining animal footprints in the sandbox or examining water organisms for biology, the kids were heavily involved,” Jackson explained.

The final product was a result of the community coming together as Jackson detailed all of the groups involved. Thanks to parks and recreation staff, Girl Scouts Troop 6438, the Jacksonville Rotary Club, as well as airmen from Little Rock Air Force Base’s 19th Airlift Wing maintenance squadron, the community can enjoy the observation trail just in time for summer. 

Sources: Jacksonville Parks and Rec, The Jacksonville Leader