Tuesday October 7, 2008
LOUISVILLE -- The nation’s largest municipal urban forest has a new vision that calls for continued growth, expanded facilities for education and recreation, and new nature programs to better serve the public and draw more visitors.
The 6,191-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest’s new master plan will be unveiled at a public meeting at Fairdale High School, 1001 Fairdale Road, on Wednesday, October 22, at 6 p.m. The plan was developed over the past six months with extensive input from the forest’s users and neighbors, as well as a series of focus groups.
The plan also outlines ways to connect the forest to the Louisville Loop, a paved 100-mile multi-use path, being developed through the Mayor’s City of Parks initiative to expand and improve Louisville’s parks. A section of the Louisville Loop will pass through Jefferson Memorial Forest, where it will connect to the forest’s 35-mile trail system. Those soft-surface trails will be improved and expanded.
“Jefferson Memorial Forest is one of our community’s treasures, and we want everyone to enjoy it,” said Mike Heitz, director of Metro Parks. “This new master plan will ultimately give the forest’s current visitors a better experience, while creating new facilities and amenities that will appeal to those who haven’t yet discovered the forest. The plan also fully-connects the forest’s vision to the Mayor’s City of Parks initiative.”
Bennett Knox, the forest’s administrator, noted that the plan will place an increased emphasis on environmental education for schoolchildren and families. “Part of making our community a City of Parks, and a truly green community, is making sure that all of our citizens have the opportunity to experience the wonder of nature and develop an appreciation for the outdoors,” said Knox.
The changes called for in the master plan will be implemented as funds become available. Metro Parks will seek funding from a variety of sources, including state, federal and private grants.
Citizens who can not attend the October 22 meeting will be able to review the master plan online at www.memorialforest.com within a few days of the meeting.
The Jefferson Memorial Forest master planning effort was managed by Metro Parks, with consulting services provided by Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects, LLC. The Louisville Metro Parks Foundation is providing $200,000 for the project, with an additional $80,000 from Louisville Metro Government and $20,000 from the Louisville Metro Council -- $9,000 from Vicki Welch (D-13), $5,000 from Rick Blackwell (D-12), $2,000 each from Kelly Downard (R-16) and Madonna Flood (D-24), and $1,000 each from Bob Henderson (D-14) and Dan Johnson (D-21).
Jefferson Memorial Forest is a woodland tribute to those Kentucky veterans who have served our nation during times of war. Outdoor environmental education programs are offered at the forest, providing learning opportunities for thousands of students and teachers each year. The forest offers a full range of recreational amenities, including weekend education and adventure programs, hiking trails, camping, fishing, horseback riding trails and picnic areas. For more information, go to www.memorialforest.com.