After more than 20 years of trying, nature trail on Verde campus remains primitive and undeveloped
The difference in treatment afforded the Verde campus in Clarkdale and the Prescott campus comes sharply into focus when you compare the effort at developing a nature trail on the two 100 acre facilities.
Planning for a nature trail on the Prescott campus began in 2004. Prescott administrators moved ahead with the plans and today the nature trail is fully developed and is 1.5 miles long.
In contrast, the idea of a nature trail began on the 100 acre Verde campus eleven years earlier, in 1993, with a grant to a Verde faculty member. Despite this start, after twenty years of student, faculty, and Verde community members efforts to persuade the Community College administrators in Prescott, the Verde trail remains as it is described in the ten year $119 million dollar development plan: It is “poorly defined” and has “safety concerns.” Nothing in the 10 year proposal addresses this fundamental need expressed by the community over a 20 year period as a part of the development of the Verde campus.
The purpose of the Verde campus trail system was described by Verde faculty in the following manner:
Preservation: To promote the conservation of a natural area with the city of Clarkdale for the edification and enjoyment of the community.
Education: To promote community education about the biological and cultural aspects of the Valley.
Recreation: To provide a natural environment with clearly marked trails where community member can enjoy opportunities via foot, bicycle.
Community Connectivity: To provide safe and convenient access to, from and through the Verde Valley campus and link the trail to other planned and existing trails. To promote the conservation of a natural area with the city of Clarkdale for the edification and enjoyment of the community.
The following is a time-line showing the efforts of faculty and the community to develop a nature trail on the Verde campus:
- 1993: Instructors Jon Freriks and Jim Bostwick, with help from students, fellow instructors, and members of community, carve out primitive walking trail. Goals are to use the walking trail as a living laboratory for various science labs such as a survey of plants, insects and identification of such.
- 1993-2004: Privative trail used by community, students, faculty.
- 2004: Instructor Chris Breitmeyer applies for grant to enhance walking trail.
- 2005: Instructor Chris Breitmeyer receives grant to further enhance and develop the primitive nature walking trail. (College did not match the funding.)
- 2005: Instructor Chris Breitmeyer orders and receives 52 varieties of trees and plants to be planted on the nature trail.
- 2005-06: With help of fellow instructors, students and community members, Breitmeyer plants the trees and plants he received as a part of the grant.
- 2006: Breitmeyer places placards/standards describing the history and flora in several spots along the nature trail he is developing.
- 2006-2007: Breitmeyer leaves Verde campus.
- 2007-08: College Administration refuses to water plants or to otherwise maintain and/or encourage further development of trail. 10. 2008: The 52 varieties of plants and trees are dying because of lack of water and care. Watering hoses crack and are not replaced. College Administration takes no action—says the trail is dangerous and not ADA compliant. Plants die; trail is not maintained.
- 2008: Cultural walking trail is included in the “Principles of Land Use” document prepared by the Greater Verde Valley Chapter of the Yavapai College Foundation. The cultural walking trail is endorsed by the communities and their officials adjacent the campus, who worked with the Chapter in the development of the plan.
- Working with local officials, it was determined that: “Principle: The campus cultural trail should reflect the heritage of the land and its people. Goal: Pursue development of a cultural trail that circumvents the campus. Policy: Prior to development, cultural trail, trail development standards should be created to implement protection goals and ensure pedestrian safety. It was noted that a shared bikeway from north to south was also included in this plan.”
- 2008-09: Final draft (approved by various communities) of “Land Use Plan” circulated to local governments, the College Administration, and College Governing Board.
- Nothing happens.
- 2013 (spring): Local Clarkdale architect agrees to draft a trail plan without charge in attempt to resurrect walking path on the Verde campus but needs a scale drawing of campus to proceed.
- 2013 (spring): College asked for scale drawing.
- 2013 (spring) College responds to request for scale drawing to design walking path with “it’s not time yet.”
- October, 2013: In the ten year Master Plan for the College, the path on the Verde campus is described as “appreciated, but poorly defined and has caused safety problems.”
- October, 2013 Open Meetings where College explains ten year development plan. No reference to developing/maintaining/improving the nature trail on the Verde campus.
Present status: As it was years ago: primitive and in places dangerous.