Describe each element of this project and how it will provide a trail /facilities located and designed so that they are optimally attractive for wildlife observation. Completed in 2010, the almost 10,000 square foot Audubon Center, located 7 minutes from downtown Little Rock, provides a hands-on learning environment for young students from nearby schools as well as the general public. Currently, 4 miles of rough trails constructed by Audubon staff and volunteers exist within Gillam Park, part of the almost 400-acre Audubon Center campus. The proposed trail will provide a new amenity to the campus: a one-mile ADA accessible trail immediately behind the Audubon Center. The trail traverses a 68-acre tract immediately behind the Audubon Center and next to a new 40unit senior housing facility, Legacy Homes, that is under construction by the Little Rock Housing Authority. Eventually, the proposed trail will link to Gillam Park with a connecting, finished trail. At present, a rough trail connects the two tracts. The trailhead is at the Audubon Center’s north side. An inviting and attractive gate and entry feature will provide security and welcome vistors to the trailhead. A nearby kiosk will showcase the area’s wildife, especially birds, indicating the type of habitat where the visitor should look for particular species. The proposed trail will provide access to the area immediately behind the Audubon Center, which provides services to about 500 students a year. It will be the only ADA trail on the property. Because the trail traverses an open savannah, people who normally may not be comfortable in the woods can walk a trail and enjoy wildlife, especially birds, in an open area where people are nearby (the Audubon Center staff and Legacy Home neighbors) but do not intrude on the nature experience. The location of the trail itself is a hill, the highest point of which dramatically overlooks Fourche Creek Bottoms and the City of Little Rock. A boardwalk, essentially a level platform with benches, will be built at the highest point, allowing visitors to comfortably watch birds with binoculars and scopes midway up the trail. Audubon will loan binoculars and birding books at the Audubon Center to visitors wishing to ascend the boardwalk for viewing and birding. (A deposit such as a driver’s license may be required to “borrow” the binoculars.) Many large birds, including hawks of all kinds, vultures and other birds can often be observed overhead. The woods and bushes that edge the trail, also the enormous old trees in the open savannah provide habitat for many other kinds of bird species, (see Attachment: “Birds Documented at Audubon Center.”) The open grasslands through which the trail will run provide habitat for a number of interesting species, including Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting, and Savannah Sparrow. The kiosk at the trail’s head will feature information that will help viewers understand what they are seeing. For example, one panel might feature “Migration” and discuss and list the many birds that stop over in the Fourche Creek Watershed in spring and fall as they journey to the Southern or Northern Hemisphere. 1

Four or more signs along the trail will illustrate the bird species characteristic of a particular habitat, so the visitor will know what to look for where. The trail will give walkers and hikers a number of opportunties to enjoy viewing birds, butterflies, and other wildife on the Audubon Center property. Audubon’s existing native plant gardens behind the center as well as gardens being cultivated on the banks of the rain garden will attract birds and butterflies at the trailhead. Immediately behind the Center, an elaborate feeder setup attracts a great diversity of smaller birds in all seasons, as well as the hawks and other large birds that prey on them. Specifically, 134 bird species have been documented on the Audubon Center campus, including the elusive Merlin and disappearing Bewick’s Wren, a once –common species in Arkansas. (The kiosk will also discuss the threats to Arkansas birds.) The Audubon Center itself boasts two towers (chimney swift habitat) that flank the front doors. Audubon staff have cataloged 292 insect species on the property as well. Audubon’s ongoing efforts to restore native plant habitat will continue to enhance the trail and attract more birds, butterflies and wildlife over the next decade. Audubon staff and volunteers have already erected and will erect more bat houses, bluebird houses, and Purple Martin houses; create brush piles for birds; and at some point, restore the grassland-oak savannah habitat to its original condition. During construction of the trail and afterwards, erosion control will ensure that the grassland habitat is kept intact. Older trees also will be shielded from trail construction and heavy equipment, ensuring that they will continue to offer nesting and roosting sites for birds. Youth will find the site particularly appealing because the ADA trail will allow them to walk or bicycle with ease up the gentle slope. Benches scattered throughout the site will give children and older folks a chance to sit and watch wildlife comfortably. Additionally, a brightly colored kiosk at the trailhead will delight youth and acquaint them with the wildlife to be seen on the site. The entry gate will be a special and distinctive feature, attracting young and old to the birding adventure awaiting them beyond the trailhead. Elderly people will enjoy the trail because of its easy maneuverability. We anticipate the residents of next-door Legacy Homes at Granite Mountain, a “green” senior-living complex adjacent to the Audubon Center will be frequent users of the trail and volunteers who will assist with all types of trail maintenance. The trail’s close-to-home location, proximity to the airport and to the Audubon Center will appeal to all residents of the greater metropolitan area of Little Rock. There is something for everyone on this trail -- for birders of all ages and experience , runners, walkers, tourists wanting a view of local flora and fauna, photographers eager to capture a vista of the city – all will delight in the trail. It will be an outstanding amenity for Granite Mountain, one of the 2

most underserved areas of Little Rock, the greater Little Rock area itself and indeed, all of Arkansas. I. Describe in detail the impact this project will have on tourism and economic development in the area in which the trail is located. With the proposed trail only one exit west of the Little Rock National Airport exit on I-440, this site is perfect for visitors and Arkansas families who want an introduction to “The Natural State.” Because of the diverse habitats caused by the convergence of three natural divisions and the proximity of the Arkansas River Valley and nearby tributaries, wildlife viewing, especially of birds, is at a premium at this site. The entry kiosk will elaborate on these points. Audubon’s Teaching Garden, featuring native plants along with a new rain garden located at the trail’s head, attracts birds and butterflies for easy viewing. The trail leads up the hillside and overlooks downtown Little Rock, providing a spectacular vista and opportunities for photography and enjoying the view. The Audubon Center campus, which includes the proposed trail site, offers a wealth of biological diversity that supports many animal species. Dr. Dan Scheiman, Audubon’s director for Bird Conservation, and other biologists have detected 134 bird species on the property, a high number considering Little Rock’s metropolis is only 3.5 miles away. The different birds and their associated habitats will be highlighted on signs situated along the trail. The trail site itself harbors grassland birds such as Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting, Savannah Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebird. Additionally, an extensive bird feeder setup near the proposed trailhead attracts common backyard birds. As mentioned, visitors will be able to check out binoculars and birding books from the Audubon Center by leaving their driver’s license with us as a deposit until they are finished with their walk. A variety of butterfly species like Southern Dogface, Sleepy Orange, and Eastern-tailed Blue have also been documented on the Audubon campus, included among 292 insect species. A complete insect list is attached to this application. See “Insects Collected from Gillam Park in 2008.” Moreover, a globally rare nepheline syenite glade ecosystem is adjacent to the proposed trail site, augmenting the land’s ecological worth. At some time in the near future, Audubon will construct a trail that will lead hikers past the rare-glades site and connect to the Wildlife Observation trail. The Nature Conservancy in an ecological survey completed in 1990 deemed this ecosystem a “globally critically imperiled [community] with fewer than five known occurrences.” Additionally, Pulaski County, in its 1990 ecological survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy, declared the area the number one priority for preservation in the county.


Economically, the trail will have a positive impact on the historical AfricanAmerican community of Granite Mountain, a designated Economic Empowerment Zone. With increased traffic due to the trail’s popularity, demand for groceries and food services will boost nearby eateries and groceries. According to the 2000 census, 51% of residents within the 72206 zip code have an average household income of less than $29,000 per year. However, investment in the community is growing with the addition of the Audubon Center (which houses an office that supports 10- 12 professional staff) and the addition of the 40-unit Legacy Homes senior housing next door. The attractive, unusual and safe trail will add to the desirability of the community and the economic value of homes and the area in general. Ultimately, the trail is an amenity for the Audubon Center itself, which is a state convener for environmental education and related activities. The Audubon Center is expected to bring in up to 1,000 visitors (including students) this year, all of whom will be introduced to the Granite Mountain community and gain exposure to its assets and needs. The Audubon Center itself has brought 10-12 new employees and an office building into the neighborhood. Further amenities to the Center, such as the trail, will strengthen our program and give the Granite Mountain community a higher, more positive profile in Little Rock. An attractive and stable community with wonderful parks and hiking trails will attract people to move back to this neighborhood. The first green housing for seniors in the state is being constructed next to the Audubon Center. The 40-unit, energy-efficient senior living complex , Legacy Homes at Granite Mountain, will be equipped with solar panels on the roofs, rain cisterns, recycled metal and composite siding, LED exterior lighting and energy-saving appliances. Residents and their visitors will benefit from the trail which can be accessed immediately out their back doors. In addition, newly constructed apartments and duplexes are attracting families to the area. The history of the trail site is unique and important. The Audubon Center site was the nation’s first public housing for returning African-American veterans after World War II. Gillam Park was the first African-American park in the city. Activist Daisy Bates fought for soccer fields and a baseball field for the park. In the 1950’s and before integration, the park provided the only city swimming pool open to African Americans. As a result, African Americans from all over the country return to Granite Mountain for reunions and to recall their history. The trail will add an outstanding and welcome new amenity to the area for these returning citizens to enjoy. J. Describe how the proposed improvements will appeal to Arkansas's youth. 4

The primary audience for the Audubon Center and its trails are upper elementary, middle, and high school students who come here as part of Common Ground, an Audubon education initiative that links students with science and service learning projects. Youth across Arkansas have volunteered or studied at the Center and in so doing have had the opportunity to explore wetlands, forests and glades on its 370-acre campus. These young people have worked to remove trash and invasive plants, and to build features like benches and bridges. There will be many opportunities for these young people to enhance the new trail with creative learning projects led by Audubon’s Education Director. Because the proposed trail is both ADA accessible and close to the Audubon Center, the new trail will enable parents with younger children to see and access the site. Picnic tables on the south side of the trail will also allow families to enjoy meals in a scenic locale, while a water fountain at the trailhead will ensure that visitors stay adequately hydrated on hot days. The proposed trail will expand opportunities to identify and study wildlife in the grassland habitat, which at present is inaccessible to children. Students from Carver Elementary School, Washington Elementary School, Mann Middle School, Central High School, and Bryant High School are currently engaged in projects linked to the proposed trail. At present, these include maintaining the rain garden and native-plant butterfly garden at the trailhead. For specific examples of how Audubon Arkansas has kindled an eco-awareness in teens, see the attached newspaper article, “Teens Take Wing,” and the “Audubon Adventures,” a nationally distributed nature education publication for school children. This summer, the Audubon Center will host after-school programs two days each week for the City of Little Rock. The program, “Little Rock Rocks,” will engage 200 students from all of the Little Rock School District secondary schools. The Little Rock Rocks program will include: nature exploration, STEM skills, fitness and service hours being provided toward graduation. Participants will also be trained as volunteers for the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department, Audubon’s site partner (see Lease Agreement). Audubon will also partner with the Pulaski County Youth Services and Greater Friendship Missionary Church, located very near the Center in Granite Mountain, to provide weekly nature activities at Audubon for after-school nature programs for 30 neighborhood elementary students. Audubon has few places outdoors on its site as yet accessible to young children. The trail will fill a big need in that regard. The physical accessibility of the site; the beautiful open view (68 unhampered acres); the opportunity to observe many different kinds of birds and other 5

wildlife; the proximity to the heart of Little Rock; the opportunity for service learning on site in connection with Audubon Center mentors; opportunities for Boy Scout, church or other projects; study opportunities for young people seeking degrees in botany, ornithology and other areas of study at UALR , UCA, Philander Smith, and UAPB, all make the Audubon Center Wildlife Observation Trail very attractive for young people. K. Does the proposed project provide improved access to hunting or fishing? If yes, explain. The proposed trail is adjacent to Gillam Park, which harbors an extensive oxbow lake system, connected to Fourche Creek that harbors 50 or more native species of fish. Neighbors fish in these lakes at present. A trail will provide the lake site a higher profile and the Center would welcome more fishers and fishing programs. The following sport fish have been documented in an 11-acre oxbow lake on the Audubon campus where fishing is allowed and marked trails provide access to the lakes: • • • • • • • • • • • • Spotted Gar Bowfin Spotted Sucker Chain Pickerel Green Sunfish Warmouth Sunfish Bluegill Sunfish Dollar Sunfish Redear Sunfish Redspotted Sunfish Bantam Sunfish Largemouth Bass

Hunting, however, is not allowed on the site because of the educational programs with children and the Little Rock City Parks regulation against hunting on this property. L Operating and maintaining these facilities will take people and financial resources. Who will provide maintenance for this project? Will the city or county budget contain a line item specifically for this project? If not, how will the operation and maintenance be paid for? Audubon staff will perform all trail maintenance. A maintenance schedule that includes inspection and a checklist will be prepared and implemented by designated Audubon staff. Audubon staff has the experience and equipment to perform maintenance properly. Two trash cans will facilitate trail cleanup. The prominence of the trail to the Center and the prospect of its frequent use 6

will deter any slowness in maintaining the facility. Local citizens and volunteers will be incorporated into all aspects of the trail construction and maintenance. Master Naturalist volunteers will erect and maintain Eastern Bluebird nest boxes; Boy Scouts will clean the fire pit and gathering area; and Together Green volunteers will tend the native-plant butterfly garden and rain garden. In short, Audubon is responsible for and has the financial and staff capacity to maintain and enhance the trail with volunteer assistance. Additionally, the City of Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department is always supportive and helps with any major cleanup or other problems associated with the park and its trails whenever Audubon asks. M. Attach a copy of any proposed or current contractual agreement with any committee, club, organization, group, or individual that will perform maintenance or maintain the proposed trail facilities. Please see the attached contractual agreements for volunteer labor and materials. N. Describe any site preparations made prior to making this application. The proposed trail generally follows the contours of an old street in the former Booker Homes federal housing project, which was razed in 2000. At that time the area was restored to open grasslands. This street bed, which is intermittent, was left by persons rehabilitating the site in anticipation of a trail being constructed on the street bed. The following have already been built or donated for trail enhancement: • • • • • • • 6 small Leopold benches (built by volunteers) Dutch oven fire pit (constructed by Boy Scouts) Large rocks for resting and gathering, installed at trailhead Rain garden at trailhead Bird and Butterfly garden behind Audubon Center Elaborate feeder system for birds behind Audubon Center Rock patio for enjoying bird feeders and hillside behind Audubon Center

O. List additional local cash funds or project elements that the local sponsor will construct at their expense, or that will be donated or be included as a part of this project. Examples might include benches, large trail sign, additional parking, trail lights, etc. (If none, state “none”). • Interpretive signs especially related to wildlife habitat and birds (Audubon


• • • • • • • •

donors) Bat houses (volunteers, especially Audubon chapters) Habitat enhancements such as brush piles for birds (Audubon staff and volunteers) Purple Martin houses (volunteers, especially Audubon chapters) Audubon plans to restore the grassland-savannah habitat to its original condition (long-term project planned in collaboration with ANHC and others) The development of landscaping adjacent to the trail with native plants attractive to wildlife and educational for youth will be added by Audubon Arkansas and its donors (volunteer labor through school projects, ongoing) Benches for the fire pit (volunteers, especially Audubon chapters) Planting of rain garden with native plants (Monsanto grant) McGeorge Construction gravel donation

P. Describe what local labor the sponsor will contractually contribute to the project. (If none, state “none”) Sources for local labor detailed in paragraph above next to project elements. Q. Describe what programs the local sponsor presently has or will establish to make use of the project facilities. Start up dates and program specifics must be described in detail. (If none, state “none”) The following programs are already established at the Audubon center and will utilize the trail: • Audubon Common Ground Field Science projects (over 30 projects with Arkansas schools) - Teams learn native plants and animals in forest, grassland, glade and wetland habitats. More information is found in the “Common Ground” attachment. o Training is at the center throughout the school year for school partners (2011- 2012) o After- school projects are on Mondays, each week, with student interns. Students work on the trails, rain garden, and video projects. o Little Rock School District teachers undergo teacher training. (November and February) o Family science event occurs with Washington and Carver Elementary. (October 2011) STEM Leadership Academy – (June 28-30 and July 12-14, 2011) Intensive training at the Audubon Center with educators across the state in geology, botany, ornithology, limnology, and GIS/GPS. Audubon Bio-Blitz with Central Arkansas schools – (April 28, 2011) Central Arkansas high schools will participate in a daylong event that includes collecting water samples, soil samples, and 8

specimens (plant/animal); photography; and service projects. Audubon Summer Camp with urban under-served teens – (June 2024, 2011) Teens will participate in hiking, birding, drawing, journaling, kayaking, and using field tools like microscopes, binoculars, etc.

R. A staff person will be visiting your proposed project site. Please provide a map and detailed instructions on how to get to the site from the nearest major highway. Please see the attached map and accompanying directions. S. The Wildlife Observation Trail Grants Advisory Board may recommend funding the full amount requested, or a partial amount. Clearly describe in priority order of your proposed project elements and the minimum you consider necessary to complete a viable project. In priority order, the following budget elements are necessary to complete a viable trail: 1. Hauling and placing of donated crushed rock for trail bed 2. ADA and other regulatory signage 3. Drainage structures 4. Steel edging 5. Erosion control/seeding 6. Tree protection 7. Drainage pipes 8. 1 kiosk, 4 smaller signs 9. 1 drinking fountain/water supply 10. 2 trash cans 11. 4 picnic tables 12. Entry gate (for security) and signage T. Verify that the trail in this proposed project will be open to the public. Please see the letter entitled, “Verification that the trail will be open to the public.”


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