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Improvements continue at Smith Park south of Texarkana

by Greg Bischof | November 21, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Joe Stuckey, one of several volunteers who helps improve and maintain Alex Smith Park, in Miller County, stand near a walking trail identification post close to where of the trails connect. Each trail has its own color code as displayed the post. (Staff Photo By Greg Bischof)

DODDRIDGE, Ark. -- Like a vintage pearl undergoing a professional polishing, Miller County's Alex Smith Park continues to receive refurbishments.

Apart from the park recently receiving two Arkansas State Conservation grants, collectively worth $50,000, cadres of longtime volunteers have steadily assisted in the clearing of four trails made for walking or hiking, as well as in the constructing and placement of three creek bridges and six new picnic table and bench areas in the park's 320-acre site.

Though the park's gun range continues to be one if its main draws, hundreds of camp fire lovers, picnickers and fishing enthusiasts trek down to this recreational area, located about 12 miles south of Texarkana, each year.

Some of the more notable improvements to a park that has 14 natural water springs: the placement of information tags on trees so as to identify these various trees, along with continued forging and extending of four new walking and hiking trails, collectively covering about two miles.

"We started building these trails about the first of this year." said Joe Stuckey, one of the park's volunteers. "Each trail will have it own color code marked by either blue, red, yellow or orange identification decals placed on nearby trees. While all the walking trails are random, they do connect and people will also be able to learn more about the types of trees they're looking at, just by reading the identification cards placed on them."

Volunteer Deryl Jones said people from as far as New Jersey have visited.

"We've also had people from as far as North and South Dakota travel down to see us," he said.

Along with adding these new features, volunteers also continue to help maintain the park's fishing pier and boat ramp out on the park's lake, both of which were built there as far back as 1994.

The visitor amenities also include a recreational area playground and two pavilions, along with a newly added campfire wood storage rack -- supplied with wood.

One of the more recent large projects that volunteers are working on is the creation of a quail habitat.

"The quail habitat will start off with about eight acres of food plot for the quails, but the habitat will eventually be expanded into about 80 acres," Jones said. "We will first get rid of needless vegetation by controlled burning, but the habitat can start off with about eight acres."

The park itself will turn 60 years old next year.

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