Wildlife abounds along WM walking trail
Nature thrives amidst suburban sprawl
firstname.lastname@example.org More than seven years ago, I was working as the West Memphis beat reporter for the Times. One Tuesday afternoon back in 2012, I found myself attending a West Memphis Public Works Committee meeting. At the meeting, I heard reports of a beaver dam problem that was plaguing the city’s drainage ditches. Honestly, at the time, I had no idea beavers were even present in this part of the state, let alone right in the middle of the city.
“Oh, yes, they’re here,” assured then-City Engineer Phillip Sorrell. My interest piqued, I asked where one might find a beaver dam for photographic purposes and was instructed to check out the walking trail.
Sounded great — with only one problem.
“Cool,” I said. “Where’s that?”
Maybe I was the last one to know, but in case some of you out there are also unaware, it turns out there’s a pretty neat walking trail in West Memphis. And in last Friday’s paper, John Rech, who now works that same West Memphis beat that I was on back then, wrote a story about how the city is preparing to spend more than three-quarters of a million dollars to rehab and renovate Ten Mile Bayou. While I’m sure someone will make the argument that there are more important things to spend that much money on around here, it’s important to remember that this isn’t really about the walking trail. The bayou is a vital waterway in the city for drainage and runoff, so it’s a pretty important project and I’m glad the city is doing it.
Reading John’s story reminded me of the time I took a tour of the walking trail back then, so I decided to see if I could find it in the archives. And I did!
So, just to give you an idea what sort of outdoors adventure you can go on right here in town, here is a reprint of my story from May of 2012 that appeared in the Times…
Heading west on Broadway, just before you get to MSCC, there’s a little single-space parking spot and the beginnings of a narrow asphalt-paved trail.
Finding the trail, I parked and began wandering down the trail in search of beaver dams.
The trail, it turns out, runs from Broadway, behind MSCC, behind Tilden Rodgers Park, bends eastward and comes out on Clement Road a few yards from the I-40 Service Road.
If you’re familiar with that particular geographic configuration, you might have already realized that the trail pretty closely follows the bayou. So, with camera in hand I crept down to the big ditch to see what there was to see.
I was able to locate a couple of beaver dams — or at least what I’m pretty sure were beaver dams — but sadly no actual beavers.
There was, however, a virtual cornucopia of other creatures.
The first critter I stumbled upon was one of those long-necked, long-legged birds that love to take rest stops in area ditches and ponds. Unsure of the species, I declared it longneckus waterbirdicus and snapped a couple of shots of it. It eyed me warily but held its perch.
I ventured onward and happened upon a fellow traveler. I watched him curiously as he pointed a few times toward the ditch.
“Whatca doin’?” I asked.
“Counting snakes,” he replied.
I headed quickly in the opposite direction. I did after all, have a job to do.
Snakes, it turns out, are pretty easy to count along the bayou. I even ventured up close (okay, zoomed in) to one and took a picture.
It was black and sinister- looking. I can’t give any more information than that.
I collected a few more pictures, including the aforementioned beaver dams, and a variety of turtles, one of whom was easily two feet long and of the snapping variety.
So while I didn’t locate any beavers, I did uncover a world of natural wonder just a short jaunt away.
Anyone looking for a neat little walk and the chance