Parklands Begins $3 Million Conservation Initiative Funded by Helmsley Charitable Trust
With the ceremonial planting of the first of tens of thousands of new trees, The Parklands of Floyds Fork today announced one of the largest conservation initiatives in the state and the region, aimed at restoring natural ecosystems, improving habitat for native plants and wildlife, and improving air and water quality.
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted $3 million to 21st Century Parks, developers and operators of The Parklands, a donor-supported public park system. The nearly 4,000-acre Parklands, Louisville’s newest park system, will apply the funds to restore the natural mosaic of native Upper South/Midwest ecosystems, thereby enhancing plant and wildlife habitats, while creating outdoor educational experiences for park visitors. The grant will also fund the development of a long-term plan for the management and sustainability of native Kentucky resources within The Parklands—ranging from mature forests, oak savannas and meadows, to streams and riparian corridors.
“This grant will ensure our ability to restore and sustain the diversity of native Kentucky landscapes and wildlife communities within The Parklands,“ said Dan Jones, 21st Century Parks’ chief executive officer. “The past few years we’ve focused on acquiring, permanently protecting, and building park infrastructure. Thanks to the generous support of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, we’re ready to implement a new model for habitat and wildlife conservation in a fast growing urban setting.”
The Helmsley Charitable Trust has funded other major conservation and ecological sustainability efforts in Galápagos, Ecuador, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Madagascar and Myanmar. The Trust works to resolve environmental threats in ways that ensure the well-being of local communities while sustaining natural resources and protecting biodiversity. The Trust has a long standing commitment to the Louisville community through its Basic Medical Research Program, which has supported a range of pioneering health sciences projects at the University of Louisville.
“The Parklands of Floyds Fork embodies the fundamental approach of the Trust’s grantmaking strategy in conservation: work with local partners to develop solutions that collectively benefit the livelihoods of communities, wildlife and the environment together,” said John Codey, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “We are delighted to help support this groundbreaking ecological restoration project that will benefit Louisville’s residents and visitors for many generations to come.”
Over the first 12 to 18 months of the urban conservation initiative, The Parklands will:
- plant more than 32,000 native trees in Beckley Creek, Broad Run and Turkey Run parks
- develop a world-class, 15-acre Woodland Garden in Broad Run Park to showcase an abundance of native trees including dogwood, redbud, viburnum and giant oaks
- install approximately 80 acres of native meadows and prairie
- create a Watchable Wildlife Program that integrates the park user experience with native wildlife through site enhancements, signage and educational programming
- remove invasive plant species that are damaging native flora that local wildlife depends on for survival
- Implement a habitat conservation initiative for the endangered Kentucky Glade Cress plant community native only to Jefferson County
“Theodore Roosevelt once described the Kentucky landscape of Daniel Boone’s time as, ‘one of the fairest in the world.’ While the vast majority of Kentucky’s natural landscapes have been reduced over the past 200 years due to settlement, this grant will help re-establish a variety of these native wild spaces in The Parklands,” Jones said. “You won’t have to go to some remote, undeveloped place to experience natural wonders like salamanders, spring wildflowers or paw paw groves. Visitors will be able to enjoy these ‘wild experiences’ right here, just 20 minutes from the downtown of a major metropolitan area.”
The projects also will enhance the habitat, migration, food and water sources for a variety of native wildlife, including raptors, salamanders, turkeys, river otter, quail, mink, migratory birds and butterflies.
The Parklands will partner with Eco-Tech Consultants of Louisville, specializing in biological assessment and ecosystem analysis, to assist in the initiative. Eco-Tech plans to add five or more employees and contract with a dozen or more specialists for the effort.
“The Parklands initiative has been world-class and exceptional in every aspect and this urban conservation partnership with the Helmsley Trust is the latest example,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “It helps define Louisville as an innovative and progressive 21st century city, which in turn helps us retain and attract top talent, businesses and jobs.”
About The Parklands of Floyds Fork
The Parklands of Floyds Fork is a nearly 4,000-acre donor-supported public park system under development within the Floyds Fork watershed in eastern and southeastern Louisville. One of the largest and most ambitious metropolitan park projects in the nation, The Parklands is a dream realized by 21st Century Parks, a nonprofit organization established to create and preserve new unexcelled parks that serve as city-shaping infrastructure. The Parklands project is now 35 percent open, currently operating and programming the first two of four parks in Eastern Jefferson County. The entire system is on schedule to be completed in 2015. 21st Century Parks is responsible for fundraising, land acquisition, construction, and long-term operations of the new park system. Community members may contribute to the annual fund by becoming a Parklands Member. Learn more at www.TheParklands.org.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust’s Conservation Program works to resolve environmental threats through an approach that ensures the well-being of local communities while sustaining natural resources and protecting biodiversity. For more information on the Trust and its programs, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.