During the spring 2014 semester, students enrolled in the forestry program's capstone course, Forest Resource Management, produced four versions of a recreation management plan for the trail corridor extending from north Stallings Drive to Main Street, including the SFA Recreational Trails and Gardens east of University Drive. The students divided the study area into recreation management zones and conducted a comprehensive resource inventory, mapping existing resources, activity areas and facilities.

During their inventory, students also identified trail management issues and generated a series of management recommendations for consideration by city managers and the larger trail community. The plan was presented May 7 in the Nacogdoches City Council chambers.

Hollis Gregory, a senior majoring in forest recreation management, said the most challenging aspect of the project was considering the many interworking components and regulations that guide the process.

The primary trail management issues noted by the students include trail erosion and vandalism to park structures. The students also brought the lack of consistent signage along the trail corridor to the attention of city staff.

"We've struggled to make sure we have adequate signage on the trail, and then they showed us how different all of the signage was and how it sometimes was conflicting," said Nacogdoches City Planner Larissa Philpot. "That made a real impact on us. I think that was something we had never even thought of before, so that was really helpful."

Philpot and City Engineer Steve Bartlett expressed the city's long-held desire to expand the trail system in a manner which provides safe, accessible recreation for residents. This goal, however, is greatly limited by a lack of funding for park maintenance and development.

"We don't currently have a budget to hire some outside master planning of this, so we decided to take this task on internally with planners, engineers, and parks and recreation guys," Bartlett said. "This kind of help is great. It gives us data, and it gives us feedback, so all the way around this is helpful."

Based on the amount of data and resources imparted by the management plan, Philpot said she is eager to foster a relationship with students enrolled in the Forest Resource Management course, using their expertise to augment and improve the trail system.

"We want to keep working with the students and growing the plan so that we can look at the future sections of the trail and how we can improve the issues that we have with the trail," she said.

For information on other related topics, visit the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture's website at www.atcofa.sfasu.edu.