“The morning of March 23 was cold . . . well okay, Arkansas cold . . . 37 degrees and 20 mile an hour winds at the top of Trigger Gap Airfield,” RAF Arkansas Liaison Harper Goodwin reported. The airfield, 17A was built in 2016 on Arkansas’ Pension Mountain through the generosity of The Nature Conservancy, and volunteers and funding from the RAF and Fly Oz, as well as The Walton Foundation. Volunteers have completed improvements to 17A since 2016, with shade trees for camping and picnics being the latest.

In February, Goodwin had selected and arranged the planting of seven Nuttall Oaks, “substantial trees that will provide beauty and shade for a hundred years.” And the trees needed tending to ensure they’d thrive. Nine volunteers braved March’s wind chill to stake and form water wells for the new trees. They cleared thousands of rocks, smoothed and filled in low spots, spread grass seed, and generally cleaned up the grounds. A team removed a deteriorating picnic table and assembled two new metal ones. “We had a really good time doing it,” Goodwin added. 

Costs for these improvements have been shared by The Nature Conservancy, the RAF and Fly Oz, as well as The Walton Foundation. RAF Liaison Dave Powell and Goodwin continue to organize RAF and Fly Oz volunteers who maintain and improve the airfield, and Goodwin has taken on the significant task of bringing water to the new trees, now and as the weather warms.

For more information on Trigger Gap, see the Airfield Guide.

Submitted March 28, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray

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