Work group cleans up, trailblazes at Ogletree Gap Park
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Ogletree Gap Park is the largest designated park space in the City of Copperas Cove, and boasts 218 acres, with passive hike and bike trails.
In the spring of 2018, a few community members approached Parks & Recreation Director Joe Brown about ways to get the space cleaner and define some of its trails. During the department’s April town hall meeting, Brown announced that community members wanted to hold a meeting. At that time, Brown said he was looking for volunteers with ideas looking to pitch in.
Over the summer, that’s exactly what Brown got.
This past Saturday, a handful of the work group members gathered just before dawn at Ogletree Gap with the intention to clear out some brush and also to get some trails marked.
Brown was present on Saturday morning as well to help clear and mark some of the trail in a grove of oaks on one of the hills.
“We did the meeting just for the group, and I didn’t know if one person would show up, or 100,” Brown said. “We had great participation. From there, it birthed the work group and a handful of people that were very active.”
Ray Payne has been with the group since its formation and on Saturday was there with fellow volunteers.
“There was a desire to have a place to explore inside Copperas Cove,” said Payne.
Throughout the summer, the group filled a roll-off dumpster and even removed furniture along with an old refrigerator that had been dumped in the park.
Some of the broader dirt trails have deep indentations from drivers taking vehicles into the park, and those drivers leave evidence behind them, leftover wooden boards used to help get them out of the mud.
Payne visited a recent meeting of Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful and the group agreed to come alongside the work group for a special group cleanup on Saturday, September 8, with more details to come.
“I don’t know if we’ll have much to clean up then, maybe a stray bag that’s blown in or maybe a cigarette pack,” Payne said. “One of the best things we’ll get for it, is people will be aware there’s trails out here. They’ll say, ‘Oh man, I didn’t even know this was out here.’”
Work group member Svenja Atchley, who felt it was important to get involved, agreed that most people don’t know about the park’s extensive primitive trails.
“We just wanted to have more, something in Cove,” Atchley added. “Cove already has the little parks. We went to Joe, because we didn’t know what was legal and what’s not, to help clean it up.”
Brown is happy with the outlook for Ogletree Gap, thanks to the volunteers and the progress so far.
“This will be an asset to Copperas Cove,” Brown said. “There’s simply not a lot of passive, primitive trails. Couple this with the park improvements, and it’s a really good thing.”
Atchley frequents the trails in the park regularly.
“It’s so beautiful, especially in the morning time, when the sun comes out. It’s like an outdoor cathedral,” Atchley said. “In the spring, all the wildflowers are out here. It’s beautiful.”
The work group is gathering again this Saturday in the park at 7 a.m. to continue clearing and marking the trail. Members communicate via their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/386361225201153/ .