Desoto County NewsMississippi News

Walking trail gets grant for County Agri-Educational Center and Arena

Photo: From left, Supervisor Lee Caldwell explains the DeSoto County Agri-Educational Center and Arena construction progress to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and County Road Manager Robert Jarman on Friday, March 1. (Courtesy photo)

A walking trail for the DeSoto County Agri-Educational Center and Arena on Starlanding Road  is receiving a grant of more than $1 million from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (MOSTF). Gov. Tate Reeves’ office made the announcement in a news release Friday morning.  

The funding will assist the County Board of Supervisors in constructing the 0.8 mile trail. The total amount of the funding is $1,021,836 and the grant is one of 33 grants announced by the Governor’s office. The entire list is found here and the awards amount to about $14.5 million. 

“As DeSoto County grows more housetops, we need to make sure we also preserve tree tops and the county’s rural areas,” said Supervisor Lee Caldwell.  “The Agri-Educational Center Walking Trail will help to restore some of the area’s natural habitat while providing the community with a safe and scenic space to observe wildlife and experience nature. The walking trail is an integral part of the 200-acre Agri-Education Center and Arena complex.”

The walking trail is within 200 county-owned acres and bordered by a recreational grassy area and recreational ball fields. The trail itself will provide a restored fully stocked pond, boardwalk with observation and will be aligned with benches as well as signage of the scientific and Native American names for plant and animal species. On-site partnerships with Northwest Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University 4-H Extension have committed to including the trail as a critical component of regularly scheduled curriculum that will afford students the ability of live, hands-on experience.

The grants were approved by the MOSTF Board of Trustees. According to Reeves’ office, this initial allocation of funding will be matched with nearly $30 million from other sources.

“This is another round of great projects,” said Reeves. “The Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund is making an incredibly positive impact on our state. We’ll continue to do everything we can to preserve our state’s natural beauty for the next generation of Mississippians.”  

State Rep. Bill Kinkade (R-Byhalia), who is the chairman of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee said, “This program, in its second year of inception has proven to be a wonderful resource for the state of Mississippi and the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should be applauded for their leadership and vision. We thank all our coalition members for their invaluable input.”

County Supervisor Lee Caldwell (left) and U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith review the Agri-Educational Center and Arena construction progress. (Courtesy photo)

Caldwell was able to show U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith the progress on the Agri-Educational Center and Arena construction during the Senator’s visit to DeSoto County on Friday.  

“I was excited to show Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith the progress being made on the Agri-Ed Center,” Caldwell said. “She expressed her excitement for the facility, and pledged her full support for the project.”

The MOSTF was created and funded by the Legislature and later signed into law by Gov. Reeves in 2022. The Legislature’s first round of $10M in funding was allocated last year. This most recent funding will utilize the Legislature’s appropriation of $15M in 2023. The Board of Trustees, appointed by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, oversees project selection and disbursement of funding.