VOLUNTEERS MAKE OUTDOORS BETTER FOR ALL

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Volunteers gathering at Fayettteville's Gregory Park to build new multi-use trail Volunteers gathering at Fayettteville's Gregory Park to build new multi-use trail

VOLUNTEERS MAKE OUTDOORS BETTER FOR ALL

Story by Flip Putthoff w/NWA Democrat Gazette

A tip of the hat today to the legions of volunteers who donate their time, muscle and sweat on dozens of projects that make our outdoors better for everyone.

We all benefit from their work on trails, at cleanups, leading hikes and presenting nature programs. It makes a heart glad to see these willing volunteers doing so much good and asking nothing in return.

That thought was unanimous among our little group visiting the Beaver Lake Nursery Pond, on the eastern shore of the lake north of Horseshoe Bend park. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission raises fish in the 30-acre pond, but visitors enjoy seeing and photographing the rich bird life on the water, in the fields and woods around the pond.

We were having a grand time when we spotted Ken Leonard of Bentonville peeking into bluebird houses that ring the oval-shaped pond. Here was Ken, a Northwest Arkansas master naturalist, donating his morning to make sure the houses are ship shape and ready for bluebirds. Leonard jotted down activity he saw at the houses and noted any nesting activity.

That's just one of a long list of projects these master naturalist volunteer to do around the region. Who could visit the nursery pond and not delight at seeing colorful bluebirds flitting about during a pleasant one-mile stroll around the pond? We all benefit from their fine work.

As Northwest Arkansas has grown, so has hiking and mountain biking. It would be hard to walk or bike a trail that the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists haven't been a part of building or improving. No telling how many people circle the dirt trail at Lake Fayetteville on a pretty spring day. These mountain biking volunteers have logged hundreds of hours transforming a rough and rutted route into a first-class woodlands trail for hiking, running and mountain biking.

Trail building is hard work. It's pick, shovel and rake work. From Fayetteville to Eureka Springs and points beyond, the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists have made mountain biking and hiking better for all trail users.

Building trail at Gregory Park in Fayetteville is among their current projects. You can see them on a lot of weekends, giving up a Saturday morning or afternoon to work at the park.

These are just two groups we've seen in action lately. We could fill a whole newspaper recognizing and thanking every organization, every family and individual who gives their time for the good of all. Look at the hundreds of people who show up every September for the Beaver Lake Cleanup. They're couples, families, individuals and groups who just want to help. Our hats are off to everyone who picks up litter along their street, at the boat ramp or river access without waiting for someone else to clean it up.

Does picking up trash mean catching more fish? You bet. We never start a fishing trip without doing a quick litter cleanup first to increase our karma with the fish. We always seem to catch more.

Sometimes we collect a trash bag of litter. Other trips we have to look hard for any litter to pick up. We always leave the river or lake a better place than when we arrived.

Next time you see volunteers working near the water, fixing up a trail or giving a nature program, tell them thanks. They don't want any credit, but a kind word may make them smile. Just as we smile when we see these helpers hard at work.

Orginally published April 4, 2017

Flip Putthoff can be reached at or on Twitter @NWAFlip

Last modified onWednesday, 12 April 2017 07:47