By Nick Worth
The City of Holbrook is getting closer to beginning improvements to the Hidden Cove Petroglyph Park, located west of Holbrook by Hidden Cove Golf Course. The city has received two grants for the park and is applying for another, said Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Randy Sullivan.
According to Sullivan, the city has received a grant totaling $122,516.30 from Arizona State Parks and the Federal Highway Administration under the Recreational Trails Program.
Sullivan said the federal monies in the grant total $99,814.80. The difference of $18,701.50 will come from the city through matching in-kind work on the project.
“So no money will come from the city,” said Sullivan. “Any of the city’s labor, or use of our machinery or millings will count toward the in-kind part of the grant.”
Before the actual construction of the natural-surfaced trail can begin, environmental work will have to be completed, said Sullivan. He noted that the city is receiving help in completing the environmental portion of the project from its partners, which include the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AG&F), the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Natural Resource and Conservation District.
“Petrified Forest National Park is helping us out a lot with the environmental work,” said Sullivan. “They’ve sent an archeologist to certify that there are no issues with the proposed route of the trails.”
Sullivan said the grant money would go toward four main objectives at the park. The first would be the construction of the trail system. The city is proposing a seven-mile loop hiking and bicycle trail that may someday connect to a trail that stretches all the way into Holbrook. There will also be a shorter trail that takes visitors up near the park’s petroglyphs.
About the petroglyphs, Sullivan said, “We believe they are Hopi petroglyphs, but we don’t yet know how involved the Hopi Tribe will want to be with the park.”
The second priority for the funds is signage for the trails, including directional signs and some informational signs teaching the public about plants and other features of the park.
Another portion of the funds is earmarked for mitigation and restoration of damaged areas.
“Some trails will have natural washes going through them, so we’ll install culverts,” said Sullivan. He also said invasive plant species, such as salt cedar, would be removed and replaced with native plant species.
A biologist has been hired to research what plants are needed to replace the invasive species.
Sullivan also noted that trash receptacles would be installed along the trails, along with some picnic tables and some benches along the trail. The city will install the features as part of its in-kind contribution to the grant.
The fourth use for the grant will be to train people to guide at the park, Sullivan said. He said that training is part of the city’s partnering with the various agencies.
Even though there will be trained guides at the park during its open hours, the park will still only be open by reservation.
“The only thing we’re worried about is the petroglyphs,” said Sullivan. “Otherwise we’d keep it open to the public all the time.”
Sullivan also revealed the city has received a Heritage Grant from the AG&F for $11,250 for the production of brochures, and the purchase of a spotting scope and tripod, and 10 backpacks. Each of the packs will contain a pair of binoculars, a cleaning kit, some kids’ games and a locally-produced field guide to the park featuring 150 species of birds and animals which can be found in the park and its environs.
Sullivan said $6,150 of the grant is in money from the Heritage Fund. The remaining $5,100 is in-kind matching from the city, the USFWS, the AG&F and the NPS.
“We’re also applying for another grant for riparian restoration from the Arizona Water Protection Fund (AWPF),” Sullivan said. The grant would be used to remove the old tires that were put around the edges of the pond in an effort to stabilize the banks years ago.
The city is also partnering in that effort with the AG&F and Joe Winfield of the NPS, who is writing the grant for the city.
Sullivan said he would learn later this week how much is being requested in the AWPF grant.
The city has until December to complete the environmental phase of the project, and Sullivan said he expects actual construction of the trails to begin in the spring.
By Nick Worth