Talks under way to build nature trail at Goodwin Lake

Goodwin Lake was named for longtime planning and zoning committee member Betty Jane Goodwin.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

When Justin Howalt was asked why Goodwin Lake was an ideal spot for a nature trail, he let a laugh slip out.
And then Clovis’ city engineer said, “You haven’t been there, have you?”
Clovis city officials, and some citizens, hope for the day nobody can answer Howalt’s query in the negative.
Preliminary talks are under way to create a nature trail on the city-owned property — giving walkers a view that seems miles away from the Prince Street businesses and the Connie Lane mobile home park bordering the site.
Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said she went with local Nature Conservancy representatives to the approximate 30 acres of land northeast of the North Plains Mall, which the city owns for drainage purposes.
With a nature trail going through the trees and around the area’s playa lake, Brumfield said, the city could have a quality of life project at a small cost.
Cost estimates haven’t been discussed yet, City Manager Joe Thomas said, but Brumfield figures an asphalt trail could run around $125,000.
“Once we got out there, (I could see) it was such a wonderful place for nature trails,” Brumfield said. “People will be really surprised we have that in the middle of town.”
For Tish McDaniel, a representative of the Nature Conservancy in Clovis, the goal is to make the area a point of education about playa lakes and their place in water matters.
“I don’t think (those goals) are mutually exclusive,” said McDaniel. “They may be combined very easily.”
A playa lake, McDaniel said, is a saucer-like piece of land that acts as a recharging station for aquifers. The floors are lined with a clay soil that acts like a sponge. During dry times, the soil is full of holes that reach the Ogallala aquifer — holes which close after a heavy rain enters the soil.
McDaniel said the Nature Conservancy, which acts as a liason to the state environmental department, has access to grants that support outreach to students.
Such a grant could be used for an outdoor classroom, similar to a tract of land adjacent to Tucumcari Elementary School, and to pay for costs relating to field trips to the area.
Grant money could not be spent on a nature trail, which Howalt estimated as a mile long from preliminary measurements. Talks are very early, but Howalt said he’d like to have a paved path so bikers and people with strollers could take in the scenery.
“It’s kind of a unique area inside of our city limits where we have the playa lake,” Howalt said. “There’s some wooded area in there, plus you’ve got your native grasses.”
McDaniel said a short walk through the area includes about 30 varieties of grass, at least four kinds of trees — and, she admits, a small sampling of weeds — surrounding the lake named for longtime planning and zoning committee member Betty Jane Goodwin. She calls the area a rest stop for birds, complete with drinking water and vegetation to graze.