(Editor’s Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Diversity and Inclusion; Education/Workforce Development; Infrastructure and Water; Public Works/Environmental and Green Management; Technology and Security; and Tourism Development/Creative Culture. Below is one winner’s story. For more, click here.)
Publics Works/Environmental and Green Management
Honorable Mention • 5,000-20,000
Mayor: Jerry Martin
In 2020, Alma began constructing its new Christello Park that featured playground equipment, an astrology pad, a pavilion and a walking trail that was completed first. The city soon began dealing with standing water and mosquito problems that plagued the trail. Alma could have used chemicals or spent money on engineering to address the problem, but wanted an environmentally friendly solution that wouldn’t endanger existing habitats or harm the beauty of the natural surroundings.
In the late 1980s, Alma began calling itself “The Spinach Capital of the World” thanks to the Allen Canning Company, based in the city, that accounted for more than half of all the spinach canned in the U.S.
After researching possible solutions, Alma came up with an integrated strategy focused on improving soil structure and health, increasing biodiversity and using targeted larvicide to deal with the mosquitos. Using a diversity of wet-prairie plants helped improve soil structure while introducing natural predators like dragonflies in the mosquito larval stage, which is more effective than trying to control adult populations. The approach has saved the city money on insecticide costs and provides habitat for migrating monarch butterflies and other forms of wildlife.