National Park Service and National Park Trust Select Wilderness Louisville as a 2020 Challenge Cost Share Award Recipient

October 19, 2020

Today the National Park Service and National Park Trust announced recipients of the 2020 Challenge Cost Share Program, which supports projects that promote improved access and opportunities for outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship, and education in our National Parks, National Trails and / or Wild and Scenic Rivers. The partners selected 19 projects from 74 applications and will award $380,000 that will be matched by an estimated $750,825 in direct and in-kind contributions from recipients. More than 12,400 youth are expected to be engaged through the program.

 

Wilderness Louisville received a $5,000 award to support our Louisville ECHO program to engage approximately 300 fourth graders in partnership with Mammoth Cave National Park. Louisville ECHO’s mission is to improve equitable access to nature in Louisville by providing a continuum of outdoor opportunities for youth ages 3 to 21.  Louisville ECHO works with local title one schools as well as Louisville Parks and Recreation community centers to provide outdoor education/recreation opportunities throughout the school year. These activities introduce youth to the outdoors beginning with their school yards and local parks gradually building to the forest and Mammoth Cave National Park. This allows students to gain a more immersive experience with each trip. Specific activities included in the cost share funding are: tree planting service-learning projects; field trips to Jefferson Memorial Forest to develop a deeper connection to nature and promote free play; virtual programs with Mammoth Cave National Park to give students an introduction and overview of their trip; and day trips to Mammoth Cave National Park to introduce students to awe-inspiring environments.

Louisville ECHO is the programming component of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative that is creating infrastructure improvements to provide “nearby nature” opportunities for west Louisville youth and families. These improvements include the Shawnee Boat Ramp currently under construction, restoration of Chickasaw Pond, and the Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center, both currently in the design phase.

 

“The Louisville ECHO program has been sustained over the years through robust partnerships among organizations that share the overriding goal of connecting people to the outdoors, particularly youth who may otherwise lack easy access”, says Wilderness Louisville Board Chair, Andy Reynolds.  “This funding from the National Park Trust helps establish an additional partnership with Mammoth Cave National Park that will ensure youth from Louisville’s urban core have an opportunity to experience one of the world’s natural wonders.”

 

"We are so excited to collaborate with Louisville ECHO to bring students to the park.  One of my favorite things about being a park ranger is sharing the mission of the NPS with students.  Mammoth Cave is such an amazing place and it's exciting to know that students from four Louisville schools will be visiting thanks to the NPS Challenge Cost Share Program administered by the National Park Trust."

Jennifer Shackelford, Education Specialist at Mammoth Cave National Park

 

The initiative requires a 1:1 financial or in-kind match by the local non-profit recipient — resulting in greater financial leverage and impact. The goals of the program will:

Improve recreation opportunities, access and infrastructure;
Provide on-water youth education, recreation and/or stewardship opportunities;
Protect and restore trails or rivers/riverside lands;
Steward through public engagement; or
Increase public use and awareness.

 

“National Park Trust is thrilled to partner with the National Park Service and many local partners across the country to connect all people to national parks and engage a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Grace Lee, executive director of National Park Trust. “The Challenge Cost Share program is one of the most effective initiatives that leverages public and private funds and invests in local partnerships that deliver results.”

 

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 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 provided over $131,500 to sustain and grow the Louisville ECHO program and enhance opportunities in the community.  Find out more at www.wildernesslouisville.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/wildernesslouisville/

 

ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST

National Park Trust is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. The Park Trust is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of preserving national parks through land protection and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by connecting kids to parks. Since 1983, National Park Trust has benefitted 48 national park sites across 28 states, one U.S. Territory, and Washington, D.C. Annually, the Park Trust provides an estimated 20,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support nearly 300 Title I schools. Find out more at www.parktrust.org.

 

ABOUT NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

 

ABOUT JEFFERSON MEMORIAL FOREST/NATURAL AREAS

The 6,800 acre Jefferson Memorial Forest, a woodland tribute to those Kentucky veterans who have served our nation during times of war, is Jefferson County’s largest nature preserve and one of the largest municipal urban forests in the nation.  The Forest is the headquarters of Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Areas Division which is entrusted with providing stewardship, nature-based educational programming, and outdoor recreation within 7,228 acres of forest, meadow, and riparian habitat across Louisville Metro. The Forest is responsible for implementing the Louisville ECHO Program. Find out more at www.memorialforest.com, www.louisvilleecho.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/jmfnaturalareas/, YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCdBSwN-YPtHYH7rQJ54I0UA, Instagram: @jeffersonmemorialforest