Promoting Trails &
Greenways in Indiana

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Highlights from our 2017 luncheon

Trails Count!

The turnout for our annual Greenways Foundation Luncheon was fantastic and we want to thank all who attended.

Together, we supported Indiana blueways, greenways and trails as we enjoyed a fast-moving program. Angie Poole provided a lively virtual tour of the Cardinal Greenways (which she manages as executive director), followed by an informative report on the trail user survery now in progress, under the skilled leadership of the Eppley Institute and the IU School of Public Health. We also heard a report on the Butler, Fairman & Seufert 2017 Greenways Foundation Trails Grant Program and, lastly, honored the recipients of this year’s Indiana Greenways Awards. The awards were presented by Greenways Foundation President Karen Bohn.

Outstanding Public Official

people holding award

Kara Kish, Superintendent, Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department

Kara Kish has led efforts in designing, overseeing, and building the Griffin Bike Park in Terre Haute — a 300-acre underused and heavily wooded former coal mine which has been turned into a Disneyland for mountain biking enthusiasts.

Under Kara’s leadership, the Friends of Griffin Bike Parks raised nearly 1.6 million dollars, procured sponsors and volunteers, and managed the construction of the project. Most recently, a full-time park manager and a maintenance specialist have been hired to further maintain, develop, and program events for the Park.

Kara also help found Trips for Kids Griffin Bike Park, Indiana’s only Trips for Kids chapter. This chapter allows underserved youth a chance to get out and ride a bike in the park and learn important life lessons as well.

Because of these efforts, Kara spoke at the National Recreation and Park Association Conference on bike park design. She also has the respect and gratitude of those for whom and with whom she serves — her community, her peers in parks and recreation, and every cyclist who visits the Park.

For her accomplishments, the Greenways Foundation proudly awards Kara Kish as our Outstanding Public Official for 2017.

kids on bicycles

Trips for Kids Griffin Bike Park

Outstanding Trail Advocate

people holding award

Diane Virgil accepted on behalf of Karen Humphreys.

Karen Humphreys has taken an active role in the development of many trails in Indiana. She has been involved in promoting, organizing volunteers, rounding up materials needed for the trail projects and also rewarding the volunteers through various ways for their efforts. Karen has a way of inspiring people to help with trail development.

This is the case with the Vandalia Trail Project. Started in 2004, the length of the trail continues to grow annually as it is acquired by negotiations with land owners, grants and donations. Karen took an active role in organizing volunteers to keep the trail open when the enthusiasm wore off and people started taking the project for granted.

Karen is actively involved in the planning and implementation of the B & O trail as well. She currently is a board member of the Hendricks County Trail Development Association, and has been instrumental in getting Hendricks County to take over the responsibility of maintenance along the trail.

Karen has always been a leader in every aspect of what she accomplishes as a volunteer in other nonprofit organizations she is involved with as well. Karen is a delight to work with and an inspiration for her dedication to bettering the quality of life of Hoosiers.

For these selfless efforts, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award Karen as our Outstanding Trail Advocate for 2017.

people building a trail

Karen Humphreys (left) with other trail builders

Outstanding Trail Group

people holding award

Charles C. Andrew, Knobstone Hiking Trail Association

The Knobstone Hiking Trail Association was formed in 2013 as a nonprofit organization to work towards completing the vision of a continuous 150-mile hiking trail along the Knobstone Escarpment in Clark, Scott, Washington, Jackson, Brown, Monroe, and Morgan Counties.

The initial 32-mile segment of the Knobstone Trail was opened in Deam Lake State Recreation Area and Clark State Forest in 1980. Through the hands-on efforts of many hikers, backpackers, and trail runners over the past 20+ years, much of the envisioned 150-mile trail is now usable.

The Association now boasts more than 100 members who work with private landowners and government land management agencies. Many of the members participate in monthly work days to build the trail, and several of the members also coordinate volunteer trail construction efforts by local civic, school, and youth groups.

Over the past year, the Knobstone Hiking Trail Association has made significant progress in working with staff at Hoosier National Forest and the IDNR Division of Forestry to reach agreement on completing crucial connections utilizing existing trails.

In recognition of their continuing success, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award the Knobstone Hiking Trail Association as our Outstanding Trail Group for 2017.

people building a trail

Knobstone Hiking Trail Association

Outstanding Corporation

people holding award

Paul Jellema, General Manager, Trek Bicycle Store

The Trek Store in Schererville has represented an outstanding model of advocating for trail use in the Northwest Indiana region. They currently operate a thriving business which promotes not only bicycle transportation, but the very infrastructure for users to enjoy.

Over time, the mission of the Trek Bicycle Store became one of increasing awareness of the Northwest Indiana regional trail network — which constitutes one of their core values of developing new ways to serve the community. The store offers a number of outlets for bicycle riders to join together and experience what this network has to offer.

Probably the most significant contribution of the Trek Bicycle Store remains its ongoing sponsorship of the regional Greenways & Blueways Map, which detail all bicycle, hiking and paddling outlets in Northwest Indiana. Last year the Trek Store once again generously donated $2,000 toward the map’s creation, which remains a free publication to the public.

The Trek Bicycle Store is now looking for additional opportunities to advocate for more trails and bicycle infrastructure by partnering with South Shore Trails, a regional advocacy group, on creating a broad advocacy network, with local groups targeting improvements in their communities.

For their civic mindedness and dedication to community health and wellness, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award the Trek Bicycle Store as our Outstanding Corporation for 2017.

cyclists in front of Trek store

Trek Bicycle Store, Schererville, Indiana

Outstanding Local Government

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Bob King, Town of Sweetser community leader & Sweetser Switch Trail volunteer

Community leaders in the Town of Sweetser understand trails are an important part of the quality of life, health and economic benefit of the community. During the last 20 years, local officials in the Town of Sweetser (population 1,229) have created a multi-use trail through their jurisdictional town limits on an abandoned railroad right of way called the Sweetser Switch Trail.

The vision of the town’s leaders helped secure a number of state grants to bring the trail to reality. These grants have not only expanded the length of the trail, but significant community amenities were also developed, including three Ohio railroad cars which were moved to the downtown trailhead and converted to public restrooms with meeting space adjacent to the trail, conserving the railroad theme.

This project was completed in 2016 for a total of 3.9 miles of trail which the town constructed and now proudly maintains.

The progressive thinking of local officials within the town of Sweetser, and the trail volunteers with their foresight of what trails can do for a community, created this first-rate trail amenity. The Sweetser Switch Trail will be part of the connection between the two longest trails in the state — the Nickel Plate Trail and the Cardinal Greenway.

For its significant accomplishments in advancing trail miles now and in the future, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award the Town of Sweetser as our Outstanding Local Government for 2017.

Sweetser town sign above trail

Sweetser Switch Trail, Sweetser, Indiana

Outstanding Trail Project

people holding award

Lauren Orchard, Economic Development Coordinator, Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission and Chris Waidner, VP of Transportation, Troyer Group

Valparaiso’s newest half-mile pathway, Vale Park West, winds through forest, prairie, and wetland, connecting Campbell Street to 700 homes that previously were accessible only by car. Vale Park West is an addition to the Vale Park Pathway, and is part of Valpo Pathways, a burgeoning 16-mile trail system.

Vale Park West features six clusters of benches and trees, water fountains (dog bowl included), and GPS indicator signs to help locate trail users in an emergency. In addition, two substantial way-finding trail heads have been installed on both ends. Valparaiso has also committed to clear the pathway of snow in the winter months, making Vale Park West accessible year-round.

The most notable feature of the trail is the construction of a 220-foot long wooden trestle bridge over Beauty Creek. The bridge is located through a heavily wooded section of the creek, affording trail users a fantastic view elevated high above the creek bed.

Valparaiso’s Redevelopment Commission contributed 20% of this cost, as the pathway is an investment in developing the Northwest section of the city, and will serve as a magnet for positive growth going forward.

In recognition of the efforts of Valparaiso to establish a significant quality of life amenity for their residents, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award their Vale Park West Pathway as our Outstanding Trail Project for 2017.

aerial view of bike-ped trail

Vale Park West Pathway, Valparaiso, indiana

Special Mention Trail Projects

mountain bike race

Griffin Bike Park, Terre Haute

Midland Trace Trail

Midland Trace Trail, Westfield

Horsemans Campground

Versailles State Park, Horsemans Campground

Greenways Legacy Award

people holding award

Angie Poole accepted on behalf of the Ball Foundations.

At a time when there was a great deal of political pressure to avoid involvement with the extremely early and unpopular trail movement in Indiana, the Ball Brothers and George and Frances Ball Foundations provided far-sighted leadership and the matching funds to acquire an abandoned railroad in East Central Indiana that later became the Cardinal Greenway.

The foundations were quick to realize that the Cardinal Greenway would be connecting several major institutions of higher education, and had an understanding that quality of place would be a major attractor to residents and businesses.

These Ball Family Foundations, along with the more recently formed Ed and Virginia Ball Foundation, have given in excess of three million dollars over the last 20-25 years in support of Muncie area greenways. A significant and most recent greenway project that these foundations have supported is the development of the Kitselman Trailhead. The trailhead connects the White River and Cardinal Greenways in Muncie.

Recently, the Ball Brothers Foundation helped build a connector from the Cardinal Greenway through the Redtail Nature Preserve to Prairie Creek Reservoir. In addition, as the Cardinal Greenway nears its 25th anniversary and the trail continues to age, the Ball Foundations were the first to help with funding to maintain the trail.

Greenways are a key component of economic development, health and well-being. Without the support of the Ball Family Foundations, greenways would simply not exist in East Central Indiana.

In recognition for their many years of dedication and contributions to enhancing trail development for Hoosiers, the Greenways Foundation is proud to award all three Ball Family Foundations as our Greenways Legacy Awardees for 2017.

Trailhead next to river

Trailhead on the White River Greenway, Muncie, Indiana