Arkansas has long staked its claim as the Natural State, with plenty of jaw-dropping vistas, scenic back roads and the beautiful Buffalo River. Developing those public assets into a national destination by building hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails is the very definition of placemaking.
This example, from an area so familiar to Missourians who venture south of the border for floating, hiking and visits to Crystal Bridges Museum, resonated with donors and community leaders who attended the CFO’s quarterly Donor Education lunch meeting on March 2.
Gary Vernon, program officer at the Walton Family Foundation, recounted how northwest Arkansas’ system of mountain bike trails grew from five miles in 2007 to about 150 miles today. Those trails, along with other projects that are nearing 1,000 miles statewide, make up a network that puts Arkansas on footing with areas like Moab, Utah, and Whistler, British Columbia, for mountain bike enthusiasts — the benefits of which will last into perpetuity.
“When we build trails, that greenspace is preserved forever,” Vernon says.