By Adam Ganucheau/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The newly completed Tupelo Music Bend Nature Trail has received a major face-lift thanks to a $20,000 grant and native plants along the trail.
The grant announcement was made Wednesday at the unveiling of markers placed where multiple native tree species like the Black Gum and the Oakleaf Hydrangea have recently been planted and marked.
“This grant will allow us to do such great things at this nature trail,” Tupelo Environmental Planner Sherrie Cochran said. “We plan on adding things like bridges, benches and trash cans to the trail with this money.”
The trees were planted along the two-mile trail by the Northeast Mississippi Native Plant Society in memory of two former members of the society, Louise Godwin and Leland Cook. The families of both women attended the ceremony.
“Our family is just so thrilled to see these markers and plants go up at the trail,” Godwin’s granddaughter, Louise Gable, said. “This is such a perfect reflection on what she wanted for nature and the city.”
The $20,000 grant, which was given by Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s, will provide just the beginning of the upgrades to the trail. Cochran said the city is in the application process for another $40,000 grant from Toyota and the National Audubon Society. Another $1,000 grant for trail upgrades came from the Tupelo Garden Club.
“This trail is just another amenity that we will have to offer residents and visitors of Tupelo,” Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said. “This is a convenient way to get out and be active, and it’s wonderful for the city.”
Trail visitors will be able to interact on the Internet and their phones while walking. Smartphone-readable bar codes that link users to a website will be placed on placards in front of trees. The codes will link trail visitors to websites that give more information about the tree itself. Additionally, trail visitors will be able to share their experiences at the trail on the trail’s Facebook page and website.
“This is all extremely exciting for the city and for its residents that will visit the trail often,” Cochran said. “This will be something that not many cities have.”
The Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department will be responsible for the work and upkeep of the trail, which is open to the public. Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis said plans are in the works for classes, camps and cross country tournaments to use the nature trail.