College extends walking trails in Hendrix Creek Preserve

By Tammy Keith Published November 8, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Dave, left, and Doris Bounds of Conway walk dogs along the trail in the Hendrix Creek Preserve. The preserve provides storm-water management for the surrounding watershed and is being enhanced by extending existing walking trails.

— On a warm day last week, Dave and Doris Bounds of Conway were taking their border collie, Ginger, for a walk on the trails in the Hendrix Creek Preserve.

They live in the Brier Springs subdivision across town, but they regularly come to The Village at Hendrix.

“You run out of places to walk,” Doris said.

The couple could hear heavy equipment in the distance.

Another mile of crushed limestone gravel is being added at the north end of The Village, east of Sanders Road, to extend the trail to two total miles. The project is being funded with a $122,000 grant from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and about $30,500 from the college.

“I just love this Village,” Doris said. “It’s the first time we’ve been here since they started expanding. We were going to check out some of the other trails today.”

The Hendrix Creek Preserve was dedicated to the city of Conway as a public park, so more than just residents of The Village can use the preserve.

The trails are part of the 18-acre preserve, created from the former Gold Creek that runs through the property.

The Hendrix Creek Preserve provides storm-water management to prevent flooding within a 500-acre watershed area, which is designed to clean the water through select native plantings and controlled stream flows.

The watershed also collects and retains stormwater to recharge the local aquifers and to prevent flooding.

The preserve is also an outdoor classroom, and the first Hendrix Creek Preserve Earth Day was held this year. It brought in Conway elementary-school students, who caught bugs and insects, learned about recycling and made crafts.

Lydia Nash of Little Rock, a 2010 Hendrix graduate and development coordinator for The Village at Hendrix, said classes from Hendrix College and the University of Central Arkansas have used the preserve, and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville visited to see the development’s architecture.

The new trail will connect to the existing boardwalk and continue to the Hendrix baseball field, Nash said. The grant also supports the refurbishing of three existing trail bridges, pet-waste stations and interpretive signage designed by Jay Miller of Little Rock, the father of Hendrix College senior Jordan Miller.

Jay Miller said he and his daughter spent time in The Village at Hendrix, “always admiring that work and so forth.

“That led me, and this is the crazy thing, to just knock on the door of their offices to look around and visit, and I made the suggestion … that educational exhibits would be a real valuable addition,” he said.

Miller’s one-man business is Interpretive Communications, which designs exhibits and special interpretive history and nature programs for schools, he said.

“We really want people to understand the value of this small greenspace — that the drainage from the community and the shopping centers and Walmart flows right into this area, and this is designed to capture this water, slow it down and let it absorb back into soil,” he said, adding that plants from marshes naturally filter the water.

“This whole area, instead of a creek that the water runs through it, is now a natural wetland that filters and cleans the water and protects the area,” Miller said.

The signage is important to the trail’s education mission, Nash said, and the signs will be tailored for all age groups.

She said the signs will help students better understand how the system works, “what type of species live here, the seasons and how it cleanses the water as it goes in,” she said.

“It will include the story of the Hendrix Creek Preserve and why it’s important to deal with our drainage and water responsibly,” Nash said.

The new trails will also include nearly $7,000 of pecan trees, a gift from the Class of 2007, Nash said.

Miller said he has had several planning meetings with Hendrix officials and has been waiting for funding to start work on the signage. On Friday, he said he was notified that funding had been received.

The preserve is a collaborative project of The Village at Hendrix, Southwestern Energy Co., environmental studies and biology faculty, environmental engineers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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