City’s parks department encourages trail use with assistance program

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
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Nick Hillemann

Junior Rodemeyer, the Hot Springs Parks and Recreation Department superintendent, also heads up the agency’s Trail Watch, a program that was just launched by the department and is designed to provide and model proper trail etiquette and safety. Volunteers man the the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail, offering assistance with directions, minor bike repairs and first aid.

A sprained ankle. A flat tire. A scraped knee. A broken chain. For those who hike or bike, such maladies have befallen them if they’ve logged very many hours on the trail. Hikers and bikers who have previously been weary of such trouble on the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail have nothing to fear these days, thanks to the Hot Springs Parks and Recreation Department.

On May 4, the department launched Trail Watch, a volunteer-based program designed to provide and model proper trail etiquette and safety, and to assist users in trail navigation.

Junior Rodemeyer, recreation superintendent for the Hot Springs Parks and Recreation Department, said the program kicked off with three volunteers.

“Volunteers come in and can either walk or ride bikes on our trails,” Rodemeyer said. “They can provide minor first aid, [make] minor bike repairs and have cellphones available.”

This new program is developed to encourage parkgoers to hike and bike the Greenway Trail without fear of getting hurt or lost along the way.

“At the end of their ride or walk, volunteers go online and fill out a form for us,” Forehand said. “It asks how many people they saw, what parts of the trail they rode/walked and if there were any maintenance issues along the way.”

Right now, Greenway Trail is the only trail in the Hot Springs area with Trail Watch volunteers.

“We’re still in the process of getting volunteers right now,” Rodemeyer said.

He said the parks department has four bikes and fanny packs for volunteers to use when they are watching the trails.

“In those fanny packs, there is minor-bike-repair equipment, like a spare tire and a spare pump, and first-aid [supplies],” Rodemeyer said.

Along with the bikes and fanny packs, the department will provide volunteers with helmets, gloves, lights, maps, high-visibility safety vests and emergency contact numbers.

Trail volunteers can use bikes issued by the parks and recreation department or can use their own, but if they use park-issued bikes, volunteers must watch the trails during business hours, Rodemeyer said.

Rodemeyer said he is excited about the new program and what it will do for the trails.

“I think it’s a good addition to our trails, and it shows people that we’re out on our trails,” Rodemeyer said. “We’re there to help out if needed.”

Rodemeyer said the parks department is looking to possibly expand the program to other trails in the future.

People who want to volunteer are asked to contact the Hot Springs Parks and Recreation department at (501)321-6871 or sign up at www.cityhs.net/departments_parks_

volunteer_signup.html.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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