Photos by Ron Sundquist
By Valerie Shelton, Editor
“Get Out…Get Healthy!” The slogan of the Clovis Parks Department is one many Clovis citizens followed on Saturday, April 30, during the city’s first annual Trail Fest.
The event, a brainchild of the city’s General Services Manager Shonna Halterman, was a monumental success, attracting a steady crowd of families walking their dogs, riding their bicycles and just enjoying the beautiful trails in Clovis.
“It is going so well,” Halterman said halfway through the event. “There are people everywhere on the trail and lots of families just having a great time. It is much better than I anticipated it would be.”
The aim of Trail Fest was to get people in the community out on the trails, interacting with one another.
Parks Manager Eric Aller said that goal was met, as many people stopped by the Parks Department booth to pick up maps of the trails, interacting with their city staff and then moving up along the trail, interacting with others and getting exercise.
Aller said there are currently 25 miles of trails in Clovis and plans for more and the northwest and eastern areas of the city develop.
“This trail [in Cottonwood Park] goes up to Sheppard at the Dry Creek Trailhead,” Aller said. “As the northwest develops, which is probably going to be in a couple years, we’re going to continue the trail out to International Avenue, by the college. There is a little section in the county that connects along the canal and it is just a quarter mile so we are working on that and once you get past that, the trail goes all the way out toward the Clovis Community Medical Center. [The trail by Cottonwood Park] was the first trail built and it was in 1995. I remember I worked on it. It was my first overtime project. I had just started with the city in 1995 and I remember the irrigation tanks were right next to the trees and the trees were small and now the trees have swallowed up all the irrigation so we don’t even water them anymore; the trees are finding their own water now. This was the first section of trail and it was John Wright, the retired planning director, who was instrumental in doing this and having the vision and we’ve just been carrying on the vision ever since and Dwight Kroll has done a fantastic job and the whole city really.”
Kroll, the city’s planning director, said Trail Fest was all Halterman’s idea, but he is glad to see such a good turnout and hopes it will encourage more residents to use the trails.
“It is neat to see this happen and to see people interact,” Kroll said. “The vision was to try and get trails in the community and people outside of car doors, actually looking at each other and talking to each other and interacting.”
It has taken 15 years to get the trail system in Clovis where it is today, Kroll said, and it isn’t fully built out yet.
“Loma Vista has 22 miles of trails that will build out when it is all done and the northwest urban village will have some very unique trails to it that are maybe more academic minded since we have Clovis North and Buchanan and Clovis Community College out there,” Kroll said. “It is growing some legs and it is so collaborative. We have Luke, the public utilities director, and Shonna, doing recreation and the senior center, and we all just come together. We’re working on plans to connect the trail up to McKinley Avenue into Central Fresno, which is huge because this is a metro thing, not just a City of Clovis thing. If we get a loop around the whole metro area, you can spend a day biking with the kids and how cool would that be?”
Aller said that having such nice trails and outdoor spaces in Clovis just make the city more inviting for families.
“This is such a great asset for Clovis and I think it brings a lot of people to our community,” Aller said. “Clovis has been voted the number one place to raise a family for the last two years in a row by Nerd Wallet and that is kind of about economics but it is also about opportunity. If you have a young family, they need to get out and do stuff.”