The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI) is Louisville Parks and Recreation’s drive to increase equitable access to nature for Louisville children and families. It is focused on expanding programming and related park amenity development to better serve west Louisville residents.
As a result of two years of community surveys, community outreach programming, and public meetings, the WLORI master was finalized in the fall of 2016.
The WLORI master plan and its technical addendum can be found below:
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Department’s Natural Areas Division, based at Jefferson Memorial Forest (JMF). It has its roots in the JMF’s Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors (Louisville ECHO) program initiative that was launched in 2008 with seed funding from the U.S. Forest Service. (Learn more about Louisville ECHO.)
Louisville ECHO is the programmatic component of the WLORI and its expansion, along with development of complementary outdoor recreation amenities, is the heart of Metro Parks’ strategy moving forward. To facilitate expansion of engaging nature-based programming in west Louisville, WLORI proposes new and expanded outdoor recreational amenities within Chickasaw Park, Shawnee Park, and Portland Wharf Park that complement the existing master plans for those parks.
The keystone facility proposed is a satellite nature/outdoor education center, the Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center, to provide “nearby nature” access for west Louisville residents similar to what is available in other parts of town.
In September 2016, as part of the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative sponsored by the National League of Cities and the Children and Nature Network, Metro Louisville developed an Implementation Plan to guide capacity building activities for Louisville ECHO over the period from 2017 to 2020. Strategies identified included improving community outreach as well as increasing capacity for expanded nature-related out-of-school-time programming by developing a youth training component for Louisville ECHO. A third strategy included participating in development of a local nature network with other stakeholders (the growing Nature Rich Louisville Alliance). Additional funding support to advance these strategies was provided by the Aetna Foundation as part of the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.
The non-profit funding partner for this project is Wilderness Louisville, Inc. Wilderness Louisville is a champion for Louisville’s natural areas, from the nation’s largest urban forest, the Jefferson Memorial Forest, to the ones in your neighborhood. For more information on Wilderness Louisville, please visit www.wildernesslouisville.org.
*Take a virtual tour of the upcoming Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center!