Walking along the Linear Park will soon take on an educational bent.
The Brewery Arts Center and the Carson City Parks and Recreation Department are working to add interpretive signs along the path to explain the environment and wildlife of Eagle Valley.
The path, which runs about a mile from Governor's Field east past Fremont Elementary, draws walkers and bikers including children going to school and recreational users. The traffic on the trail will give "great exposure to these interpretive signs," Park Planner Vern Krahn.
The signs, with art by Carol Foldvary-Anderson, feature descriptions of the region's climate and geography -- touching on topics such as living in a watershed -- as well as plants, weeds and wildlife.
Each panel has drawings of animals one might see while traveling the Linear Trail from mallards and muskrats to sowbugs and sagebrush voles. Willows, whitetop and sagebrush make top the list of plants featured on the panels.
"One of the things we feel here is recreation and education go hand in hand," Krahn said. "It's an opportunity to educate people using your park system in a very fun way."
The Linear Trail, which skirts a ditch full of cattails and wildlife, wasn't the first choice for the arts center's environmental project.
Joe McCarthy, arts center executive director, received a grant for $20,000 from the U.S. Forest Service about two years ago to enhance an interpretive trail at Mount Rose. However, the plan fell through, leaving him with money to improve environmental education and no place to spend it.
Enter the parks department with a one-mile trail skirting two schools and one major recreation point, Governor's Field. The money the city had put into the trail counted as a match to the federal funds, and city and BAC officials have worked for more than a year on the artwork and sign content
While the arts center is more known for supporting plays and concerts rather than walking and biking, McCarthy said the interpretive trail is a natural match for the center.
"Our goal is to provide an artistic and cultural element in the community," he said. "One of the things we've done is put this in a location where the impact is going to be the greatest on the community. This enhances the linear trail and ... will add that extra element of interest to the trail that's educational and artistic."
Both Krahn and McCarthy said the signs could enhance science programs from nearby schools.
Krahn said so far, the city has spent about $500,000 improving the Linear Park. The park/trail ends near the freeway right-of-way east of Saliman Road, and will eventually run north to Fifth Street and then under the freeway. Sections east of the freeway corridor near the Nevada State Prison are under construction, and a section between Edmonds Drive and the Mexican Ditch Trail was recently finished.