State award recognizes Haddock Lane Trail
By Samantha Jones
The Holiday Island Hikers have been recognized for their hard work building Haddock Lane Trail.
In October, the group received an award from the Arkansas Recreation & Parks Association recognizing the newly build trails. HISID district manager Lawrence Blood said Holiday Island got involved with the association recently, saying he never expected for the community to be recognized so quickly.
"We joined that organization just to try to open our sights and learn how we can develop more amenities and more recreational opportunities for people in Holiday Island," Blood said. "It was kind of an outreach opportunity, and we had the chance to apply for recognition on the trail."
Dan Kees, a member of the Holiday Island Hikers, said the group built the trail almost entirely by hand.
"Everybody that worked on the trail belongs to the Holiday Island Hikers," Kees said, "and we have a working relationship with the suburban improvement district here where we build and maintain hiking trails and the green spaces in Holiday Island and they let us do it."
Blood said the Holiday Island community received a grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to build the trail.
"Along with the volunteer effort and their equipment," Blood said, "that pretty much paid for the entire development of the trail."
The $25,000 matching grant helped the hikers bring on a construction company to develop parts of the trail that could not be built by hand, Kees said.
"Then we spent a lot of money on signage," Kees said. "I think we had a total of 380 volunteer hours or something like that."
"And that's with people that are 60 or older," Blood added.
Kees said there were around 25 volunteers who helped out, saying 10 of those volunteers did the majority of the work on the trail. It took about a year and a half to finish constructing the trail, Kees said.
"We didn't work on it in the summertime when it was 100 degrees and the bugs and snakes were out," Kees said. "We completed the trail in early September and had our first official club hike on it two weeks ago."
The moderate hiking trail is 2.7 miles long, Kees said.
"It follows the hillsides and down into the valley along the creek, so it's kind of special to us from the standpoint that it has nice scenery," Kees said. "It's certainly not the fanciest trail in Arkansas not the most technical but it was built primarily with volunteers."
Around 45 people showed up for the inaugural hike in October, Kees said, which is more than double the number of people who participate in regular hikes.
"People loved it," Kees said. "People of all physical abilities were able to do it. We consider it a moderate hike because there is some elevation change to it, but I was pleased that none of our hikers on the hike that day had any issues at all traversing the trail. Just about anybody should be able to do it."
This isn't the first trail the hikers have built. Kees said the hikers built the Starlite Trail a couple of years ago.
"We had built about a 1.5-mile trail once before, but it was basically just clearing out brush and stuff," Kees said. "It didn't require the kind of dirt work we did on the Haddock Lane Trail."
The reason the trail received the award, Blood said, has everything to do with the volunteers who helped build it.
"Nationwide, every organization that depends on volunteers is really suffering," Blood said. "In Holiday Island, we have a tremendous amount of volunteers and people who are willing to get out and help the community. I think this project was seen as a shining example that volunteerism is still alive."
Blood said Holiday Island wouldn't be what it is without volunteers. Volunteers are active in every part of the community, Blood said, including the HISID administrative office.
"Our fire department is all volunteers. A lot of the maintenance on the golf course is all volunteers," Blood said. "We have a very dedicated group of volunteers that helps us with office tasks. The list just goes on and one. Volunteerism is very healthy and active in Holiday Island."
Kees said the hikers are dedicated to building and maintaining trails. Many trails don't have that kind of maintenance, Kees said, and hikers are forced to work over trees and brush.
"Maintenance is the long-term commitment part of it," Kees said. "If a tree falls in the woods, it will definitely fall across a trail."
So what's next for the Holiday Island Hikers?
"We're going to enjoy life," Kees said. "There's the potential for at least two more trails in Holiday Island, but we have to see how much the existing ones are used before we can get to that point."
Kees encouraged the community to get involved with the group, saying it's just plain fun.
"I like being out in the woods. I'm not much for sitting around the house not doing anything," Kees said. "If we see something that needs to be done on the trails, we can' trust ignore it."
He continued, "We have to pitch in and try to do something. That's the attitude of most of the volunteers in Holiday Island. They see the need. They jump right in there and do it."