Louisville Parks and Recreation and partners unveil recently completed hiking trail and new mural in Shawnee Park

August 24, 2022

Mayor Greg Fischer today joined Councilwoman Donna Purvis (D-5) and officials from Louisville Parks and Recreation, KentuckianaWorks and Wilderness Louisville Inc. to unveil a recently completed hiking trail at Shawnee Park (4501 W Broadway).

The half-mile loop hiking trail, located in the old Fontaine Ferry Amusement Park area in Shawnee Park, was brought to fruition with funding support through Wilderness Louisville Inc.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and SummerWorks participants worked for nearly 18 months to complete the trail. The portion of the trail completed by SummerWorks youths was funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and Brown-Forman Corporation.

“We have been working over the past several years to transform our historic Shawnee and Chickasaw parks into even more exciting, diverse greenspaces, providing rich environmental experiences for people from all walks of life,” said Mayor Fischer, thanking SummerWorks and the other partners for their work creating the first official hiking trail in west Louisville. “A great deal of gratitude is owed to all who worked to bring this new amenity to the community.”

"Our multi-year partnership with Louisville Parks and Recreation has been a highlight of the SummerWorks program," said Michael Gritton, Executive Director of KentuckianaWorks, which oversees SummerWorks in partnership with YouthBuild Louisville. "The SummerWorks youth at Shawnee Park have helped improve their community for the better while gaining knowledge about the outdoors and expanding their professional skills. This is what the program is all about."

This trail project is a specific infrastructure part of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative (WLORI), which is spearheaded by Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Area Division, based at Jefferson Memorial Forest and is supported financially by Wilderness Louisville Inc. WLORI’s mission is to increase equitable access to nature for Louisville children and families and is focused on expanding programming and related park amenity development to better serve the community of west Louisville.

The hiking trail serves as the most recently completed park improvement recommended by the 2016 WLORI master plan to increase equitable access to nature throughout Louisville, but more work is to come, the Mayor said, including the Chickasaw Pond Restoration/Forest Play Area and the Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center.

Most recently, Louisville Metro Government allocated $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to complete the Chickasaw Pond Restoration/Forest Play Area concept, with an additional $408,000 committed by Wilderness Louisville specifically for the Forest Play Area with support from Uliman Shutte, Herman H. Nettleroth Fund and the Cralle Foundation.

Work is set to begin for the Forest Play Area early this fall, with hopes of beginning on the Chickasaw Pond Restoration next spring. The Shawnee Outdoor Learning is partially funded and will be the last project to complete the WLORI master plan. The Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center will work to improve social cohesion with the creation of new community programming that utilizes the new infrastructure.

“Wilderness Louisville’s mission is to support enhancement of natural spaces in Louisville for the enjoyment of all Louisville citizens,” said Bennett Knox, outgoing Executive Director of Wilderness Louisville.  “We are thankful to the many partners and funders who have made this day possible. Together, these outdoor amenity improvements promise to support an expansion of nature-based programming by Metro Parks, particularly its Louisville ECHO Program, and work to create employment and leadership opportunities for west Louisville youths over time.”

Another recently completed project unveiled today in Shawnee Park is a mural designed by the STEAM Exchange – a community partner to WLORI –based on photographs captured by late Charles “Bud” Dorsey Jr., a local legend who is most known for his photojournalism documenting life in west Louisville for more than 50 years.

The mural uses photos that Dorsey took of activities within the Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors (ECHO) program, which is a component of WLORI. ECHO programming currently consists of several complementary components: school-based environmental education; ECHO out-of-school education/recreation programming; nature play with the ECHOmobile; summer job-training; and family-oriented community events.

Those interested in utilizing the hiking trail will see entrance signage near the Shawnee Boat Ramp, and the half-mile trail loop provides hikers with views of the Ohio River as well as some recreational riverfront access.

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ABOUT LOUISVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION 
Louisville Parks and Recreation, a nationally accredited parks and recreation agency, manages 120 parks and six parkways on more than 13,000 acres of land and operates recreation programs for area residents of all ages and abilities. Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Greg Fischer has been committed to ensuring equity in parks and recreation, including the start of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative, the Louisville’s Engaging Children Outdoors (ECHO) programming and most recently, becoming the third city in the country to launch an equity review of all Metro-owned parks and facilities. bestparksever.com

ABOUT WILDERNESS LOUISVILLE, INC.
Wilderness Louisville, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) non-profit that raises funds in support of the Louisville Parks and Recreation Department’s Natural Areas Division, based at the 6,800-acre Jefferson Memorial
Forest (JMF). Wilderness Louisville’s mission is to be the champion for Louisville’s natural areas, from the nation’s largest municipally-owned deciduous urban forest, Jefferson Memorial Forest, to the ones in your backyard. Since its inception in 2013, WL has raised funds to support youth programming, land conservation, and capital facility improvement, and ecological restoration activities. Wilderness Louisville’s board is committed to promoting equitable access to the outdoors and since 2015 it has raised significant funding to sustain and grow the Louisville ECHO program and enhance park infrastructure associated with the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative. Find out more at www.wildernesslouisville.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/wildernesslouisville/

ABOUT KENTUCKIANAWORKS
As the Louisville region's workforce development board, KentuckianaWorks helps local workers find jobs, education, and training, and partners with employers to connect them to skilled, qualified workers. KentuckianaWorks operates a variety of workforce programs, including Code Louisville, the area's Kentucky Career Centers, and The Spot: Young Adult Opportunity Campus. They have been helping run SummerWorks since Mayor Fischer founded the program in 2011. Learn more at KentuckianaWorks.org

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