Officials with Texas A&M University-Texarkana, the City of Texarkana, Texas, and Partnership for the Pathway today announced a $199,500 Wilderness Trails Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to complete the Bringle Lake wilderness trail system. A $50,000 grant from the Partnership for the Pathway provided the necessary matching funds to make the initiative possible.

Last summer, the university received $199,500 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and a $50,000 matching grant from the Partnership for the Pathway to fund the first phase of the project, which covered approximately 2.5 miles of upgrades to the existing wilderness trail surface – from the newly constructed Bringle Lake East Park to the Bringle Lake dam. The second phase of the project is intended to complete the almost 7-mile loop of the wilderness trail system.

Dr. Emily Cutrer, president of A&M-Texarkana, thanked a host of individuals involved in the grant initiative, including the Partnership for the Pathway, the local legislative delegation, mayors and city managers, and Bowie County officials.

“Community engagement is a key component of the university’s mission,” Dr. Cutrer said. “We are excited about this educational partnership and look forward to many more collaborative initiatives in the years to come.”

“Trails are a vital part of our parks system,” Mayor Bob Bruggeman of Texarkana, Texas, said. “It is our hope that the Bringle Lake Park wilderness trail system contributes to a healthier and more physically fit community. We envision this trail being used by individuals, as well as groups, for activities and recreation.”

Robby Robertson, City of Texarkana, Texas, Parks and Recreation director, said the trail will be available to groups such as the Caddo Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas to experience a true wilderness experience within the Texarkana city limits.

Dr. Bill McHenry, dean of graduate studies and research at the university, praised the efforts of Robertson and Dr. Angela Sikorski, associate professor of psychology, who served as lead grant writer.

Dr. McHenry said the trail route will include a kiosk that will provide information about current environmental issues, as well as signage at every 1/10 of a mile that will educate users about plants, animals and the environment.

Dr. McHenry also shared an update on the construction of an environmental education pavilion in Spring Lake Park.

“The City of Texarkana Parks and Recreation Department and A&M-Texarkana are in the final stages of completing the construction of an Environmental Education Pavilion located in Spring Lake Park,” Dr. McHenry said.

“Once the final step is completed in the next month, the pavilion (located directly behind the Bramlett Ball Field) will serve as an outdoor classroom with environmentally themed signage and educational information. Local school districts can use the pavilion for field trips while individuals and families can stop by and engage in meaningful thoughts and discussions related to environmental themes.”

The pavilion was sponsored in part by a grant from the Horace C. Cabe Foundation and the Friends of Texarkana Parks.

John and Julie-Ray Harrison with Partnership for the Pathway said the organization is dedicated to the development of safe trail systems that increase the quality of life of all citizens in the Texarkana region.

“The Bringle Lake Park wilderness trail system will be a wonderful addition to the trails of the Texarkana area,” Julie-Ray Harrison said. “It is our hope that the wilderness trail offers everyone the opportunity to slow down and take in the beauty around us.”

Construction of the Bringle Lake Park wilderness trail system is scheduled to begin this fall.

For updates on the trail, like the A&M-Texarkana Facebook page at Facebook/TAMUT.edu. For more information about Texarkana Parks and Recreation Department, visit http://www.ci.texarkana.tx.us/227/Parks-Recreation.

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