A short story about enjoying and maintaining the trails at Southfork Nature Center: Leaf removal
“…Many people wouldn’t understand why, on my only day off, would I be out working away my afternoon. In many cases if people ask that question, they wouldn’t understand the answer. For me, I can think ahead, all the young children who will be walking these paths, they won’t know who or even think about somebody who blew all the leave off the trails, but I know…”
To get to the nature Center, Larry Price and I drove I-40 to Morrilton and took the hwy 9 north exit. For me this has always been a very scenic drive, through many twists and turns. We made our way through the town of Solgohachia, I have wanted to stop here many times and take photos. We arrived at Choctaw and crossed over hwy 65 onto hwy 330. Before we knew it, we were parked by the cabin at the Nature Center.
We quickly unloaded a bacpac blower and one handheld blower. In the cabin we got out another bacpac blower Larry was going to use. We decided to start on the most used trail, he went one way, I went the other. It was slow going at times with very deep layers of leaves that took many attempts to blow off the trail. Also at the bottom of some piles was a heavy mat that resisted being blown away. Other places it was much quicker going.
I soon met up with Larry, with the lake on one side and a pretty glade on the other. I saw Larry had his handheld blower, he said the other one quit working, bummer I thought. We shut down both blowers and started back towards the cabin and more gas. I asked Larry, do you hear that high pitched noise, or I’m going crazy. He told me he heard it also, whew I thought. Back at the cabin I suggested we pour out the old gas in the bacpac blower that quit and try it with new gas, presto, it worked. We had to search for a suitable container for the old gas, we finally found an old glass container with a working lid. I realized I still heard the noise, it was coming from me, what the, turns out it was my camera. Larry suggested to take out the battery and of course the noise stopped.
Another note I want to bring up, Larry forgot any type hearing protection. I was happy to tell him I brought two ear muffs. Me, I wore ear plugs plus the ear muffs. If you attend a event such at this, bring ear protection for yourself and maybe extra. if you have it, for others. I try to always have extra gloves also, hats, water etc…
We got both blowers going again and started up another trail, this time he was in the lead, I followed. I was able all during this to admire the many beautiful sights. All this time rain was wanting to fall but held off (it drizzled on us driving to the center.) I ran out of gas while Larry pushed on. We got back to the road, turned off Larry’s blower. I joked that he got better mpg with his then the one I had. Mine was pushing out at 40 mph while his somewhat less. As we walked back to the cabin we talked of many things.
One was how many people wouldn’t understand why, on my only day off, would I be out working away my afternoon. In many cases if people ask that question, they wouldn’t understand the answer. For me, I can think ahead, all the young children who will be walking these paths, they won’t know who or even think about somebody who blew all the leave off the trails, but I know, and that is the key to the understanding of why.
As we packed up, secured the cabin, a drizzle started which on the drive home turned into heavy rain. We had to very carefully pack that glass container, Larry joked it was like packing nitro, yikes I thought, wouldn’t want that in the back of his truck. He got it tied in and boxed-in so it wouldn’t move. As we started back the day was beginning to fade. We made our way through Solgohachia in the dark. Back on the great I-40, it quickly got us home. I know Larry will agree with me, a great time it was, good fellowship and we can pat ourselves on the back for a deed well done.
A look inside our efforts…
• Public walking trails (2 mi.)
• Nature appreciation programs & Docent-Guided Tours, Spring-Fall
• Historic conservation (Almeda Riddle cabin)
• Habitat initiatives (Pollinator meadows & Milkweed cultivation)
• Data collection for plant & animal species & climate records
• Outdoor Classrooms & Field-Based Education Framework
• Regional school outreach
• Annual Greers Ferry Lake shoreline cleanup (Sept)
• Annual Butterfly release (Spring)
• Building partnerships with regional conservation initiatives
• So much more!
Interested in pitching in? Get a little exercise & fresh air, get to know more about the nature programs in action, and help the trails & facilities in tip-top shape! Ask about docent & volunteer opportunities.