Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who will maintain the Pumpkinvine?

The following is a version of the article I wrote for the March 2011 Pumpkinvine Trail Talk regarding trail maintenance. It is just as relevant today.

 Even though the creation of the trail has taken 20 years from purchase to settling legal issues to funding the development, we have always known that managing it once it is done would be as large a challenge as creating it. Management and maintenance is a day-to-day, month-to-month, indeed year-to-year proposition. There’s no vacation for park managers.
            There are trail projects that have the good fortune to be near enough to a population base that there are enough volunteers to staff a trail without professional help. The Cardinal Greenway from Muncie to Richmond, Ind. is one of those trails, but most trails eventually end up as city or county parks. Although we have wonderful volunteers who give generously for trail work and the Pumpkinvine Bike Ride, we do not have enough to do all the work needed to perform maintenance on a 17-mile trail.
            The park departments have the expertise to manage a park that we lack. The problem in 2011 is that in these tough economic times, parks are some of the first government agencies to have their budgets cuts. Legislators don’t see parks as essential services. It is, to my way of thinking, a shortsighted viewpoint, but it’s the reality.
            What does trail maintenance involve? Here’s a partial list. 
§  Mowing the shoulders.
§  Surface cleaning to remove fallen branches and leaves.
§  Planting wildflowers and native grasses.
§  Tree pruning and removal
§  Invasive species removal
§  Empty trash cans
§  Repairing cracks and potholes in the asphalt or ruts in the limestone.
§  Patrolling the trail.
§  Removal of illegal dumping
§  Repairing fences,
§  Inspecting bridges
§  Fixing signs, benches, fences and gates.
            How do the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc. and our supporters fit into this phase of the trail’s life? What will our role be? How can we make the best contribution?
            That’s part of what our board and the Pumpkinvine Advisory Committee will help clarify in the next few years. In my mind, the creation of this trail is not like a relay race in which we (the Friends) hand to baton off to the next runner (the four local agencies) to manage the trail. Instead, it is a partnership in which we work alongside these agencies.
         How might that work? We can supply some volunteers, like we did last year after the June 17, 2009 storm that toppled dozens of trees onto the trail. We could also help fund a staff position that would greatly enable management of the trail and take pressure off the local managing agencies. 
But questions remain: Will our supporters be willing to “tax” themselves through membership dues toward such a goal? Will the annual bike ride continue to flourish and provide income above expenses to the Friends? Will sponsors be as generous five and 10 years after the trail is open?
            It is our responsibility to make the case for that continuing support.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You can support trail health

Many of you have commented on Facebook about how much you enjoy the trail. Some of you have asked how you can help support it, and others have wondered if it needs financial support.
The answer is yes, it needs financial support. The Friends of the Pumpkinvine are working with Goshen Parks, Elkhart County Parks, and the towns of Middlebury and Shipshewana to create a financial partnership that will support trail maintenance. In essence, the Friends are becoming an organization that provides grants to these local public agencies for trail upkeep. No, repairing a mower isn’t as glamorous as building a trail or decking a bridge, but it’s a very necessary part of keeping the trail useable, safe and attractive.
            Please join us in our efforts to keep the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail a first-class greenway by making a tax-deductable donation online or through the mail.
Mail:  Friends of the Pumpkinvine, Box 392, Goshen, IN 46527
Online:  Donate online
John D. Yoder,  president , Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Greenways support diversity

Early in the history of the Pumpkinvine Natural Trail, geneticist and naturalist Dr. Merle Jacobs emphasized that greenbelts like the Pumpkinvine are important corridors that connect plant and animal communities. On November 12, 2011, I attended the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society annual conference at Indianapolis that reinforced Jacob’s point.  

The conference theme, “Connectivity & Corridors, “ illustrated the importance of greenway corridors from different contexts, e.g. Amazon and Indiana forests and Golden Lion Tamarins and local bumble bees. If fragments of forests remain isolated from each other, the diversity of plants and animals decreases over time in each fragment. See the greenway dimension of the Pumpkinvine on Google maps: Pumpkinvine from CR 1100 W to 900 W

But green corridors, even a corridor only 80 feet wide, like the Pumpkinvine,  make it more likely that diverse plants and animals thrive in each fragment. Pollinating insects, ants and small rodents that disperse seeds, and birds that need the protection of tree canopy can travel from one small forest fragment to another. The next time you bike or hike our lovely Pumpkinvine you may want to think on all the living things besides us bipeds that profit from this crucial corridor.   (Submitted by John J. Smith, November 14, 2011)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A better way to run

Since many users of the Pumpkinvine are runners, I'm linking an article from the New York Times magazine about an interesting approach to running that claims to cause many fewer or no injuries, something the article claims is a problem for the vast majority (79%) of all runners.  The Once and Future Way to Run

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Elkhart County Parks annual photo contest

One of the contest categories in this year's photo contest is "Focus on the Pumpkinvine"

Photos in this category should capture the character of this blossoming county park. Photos in this category must be taken within the boundaries of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.

Any photographer can submit pictures for display; however, Elkhart County Parks and Recreation Department staff, their immediate families, and professionals may not compete for awards. The Elkhart County Parks and/or Concord Mall reserve the right to reject entries which might be deemed in poor taste.

Forms are available at the Elkhart County Parks office and other sponsor locations and must accompany each pictureattached to the back. Entries may be color or black and white 5" x 7" minimum, to 11" x 14" maximum, and mounted flush or matted (no glass frames or picture hooks). Three entries in each category are allowed per person. Persons wishing to enter the “Best Special Effects Award” must indicate the special effect techniques that were used (ie special processing, multiple exposure, computer enhancement, etc.)

Entry Deadline
Each entry complete with attached form on back must be submitted to the Elkhart County Park and Recreation Department at 211 West Lincoln Ave., Goshen, Indiana or the Concord Mall Information Desk by 4:00 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2012. For additional information, you may contact the park office at 574-535-6458.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friends of the Pumpkinvine on Facebook

We are nearing 600 fans on our Friends of the Pumpkinvine Facebook page. Friends of the Pumpkinvine on Facebook. Most of the People I don't know. It's an entirely new set of connections to this project. Will they become supporters? That's the question.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family moved to Goshen in part because of Pumpkinvine

A letter in today's Goshen News from Valerie Collins mentions the fact that one of the reasons she and her husband moved to Goshen was because of the bike trails, and one of the reasons they checked out Goshen was that they heard of "The Pumpkinvine Trail."  So it is true, at least for this family, that people make major choices in life, like where to live, based on things like the presence of trails. As he says, it indicates that "this was a community that cared for the residents who lived here." Here's the whole article:  Letter to Goshen News, Nov. 1, 2011