The Walton Family Foundation has announced a $20 million matching grant in support of a park development project in the Arkansas Delta.
The one-to-one match will help Arkansas State Parks raise the funds needed to complete an 84.5-mile biking and pedestrian trail from Lexa to Arkansas City; the agency is applying for federal grants to fulfill the match. The Delta Heritage Trail State Park currently includes 44.4 miles of trails and, when completed, will be one of the longest dedicated pedestrian and bicycle routes in the state.
The grant includes support for a plan to publicly recognize the life and accomplishments of John Harold Johnson (1918-2005), who was born in Arkansas City and overcame abject poverty and racial discrimination to build Johnson Publishing Company, the largest African American-owned and -operated publishing company in the world and the publisher of such iconic titles as Ebony and Jet.
"The original Delta Heritage Trail Master Plan was approved in 1997, and in 2020 it’s still not complete," said Arkansas Department of Parks' heritage and tourism secretary Stacy Hurst. "Because of this generous matching gift, we'll be able to complete the Delta Heritage Trail in five years providing an enhanced recreational opportunity for residents, bringing more visitors to the area and increased economic growth to local communities. The completed trail will provide users a unique glimpse into the rich history and natural beauty of the Arkansas Delta."
(Photo credit: Arkansas State Parks)