Hattiesburg’s outdoor recreation gets a little greener with the Gordon’s Creek trails

Hattiesburg has experienced significant growth in recent years, and that includes the addition of recreational opportunities that add to the atmosphere of life in the Hub City.

Mayor Toby Barker announced during a news conference Monday that the city would invest approximately $3 million in building trails along Gordon’s Creek.

More than $2 million of the money will come from a grant from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund, which “encourages investments in outdoor recreation and conservation projects,” according to the state website. The remaining money will come from the city’s 1-cent sales tax on hotels and restaurants and any remaining money from the general fund. The $2.2 million grant was the largest awarded in the state this year by the Outdoor Stewardship Trust, Barker said.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker will talk at a news conference Monday about the grant that will help fund new trails along Gordon's Creek.Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker will talk at a news conference Monday about the grant that will help fund new trails along Gordon's Creek.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker will talk at a news conference Monday about the grant that will help fund new trails along Gordon’s Creek.

The route through downtown connects Buschman Street with Chain Park and the Longleaf Trace. It includes an 8-foot well-lit path, an outdoor classroom and a view of the Leaf River.

“For the first time, we are seeing an activity that is going to happen in this area that we envisioned many years ago,” said Ward 2 Councilor Deborah Delgado. “It’s a beautiful, natural environment as it is, but it needs that attention and it needs proper management, so I’m so grateful that the city of Hattiesburg took this opportunity.”

Barker said the idea for the nature trail came from the late landscape architect Edward Blake, who envisioned making green spaces accessible to everyone so they could enjoy the natural environment Hattiesburg has to offer.

“He was someone who dreamed of things,” Barker said. “He just had a real vision for the natural landscape as it was, and he tried to get people to see it for themselves.”

Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Mercier looks at a map of the new trails that will be added along Gordon's Creek during a press conference Monday.Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Mercier looks at a map of the new trails that will be added along Gordon's Creek during a press conference Monday.

Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Mercier looks at a map of the new trails that will be added along Gordon’s Creek during a press conference Monday.

Blake, of Hattiesburg, died in 2010. He designed a number of locations where people can connect with nature, including Crosby Arboretum in Picayune and the Catfish Row Children’s Art Park in Vicksburg. He also designed the wetland and trail area behind the Lake Terrace Convention Center.

“Blake was internationally known for his work in ecological planning and design, focused on creating environmentally sustainable places,” according to his biography on The Cultural Landscape Foundation website.

His work also includes the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park in Indianapolis.

“We appreciate someone of that caliber having a hand in what we’re developing now,” Barker said. “That is the true testament of a visionary: to dream things he could never enjoy.”

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This article originally appeared on Hattiesburg American: Hattiesburg to expand trails to Gordon’s Creek