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Coping With Coronavirus

Area recreation trails remain open
to help with normalcy

Nature preserves, hiking trails offer escape from pandemic

(May 2020) – Staying healthy is on everyone’s mind, more so now than ever as individuals and families are cooped up at home due to coronavirus restrictions. The arrival of spring has made people want to get outdoors and resume a little normalcy to their schedules, and several area sites provide that opportunity.
Although the buildings are currently closed to public access, the trails remain open every day from dawn until dusk. “All of us at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve are pleased our community is taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather to take walks, enjoy family picnics, get exercise and simply enjoy our trails, gardens, creeks and ponds,” Brown said. “We have seen a spike in visitors as they choose to get outside and still practice staying apart by at least six feet.”

Photo courtesy of Tavia Brown

Schoolchildren enjoy fun and games in the natural setting at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen, Ky.


She said that “the majority of our visitors are families who are very good at adhering to CDC recommendations of keeping six feet apart from others.”
Temporary closures include the Thrive Forest School (a nature-based preschool), bathrooms, Forest Friends Playground, the nature center and sports team practices on the recreational fields. All rentals of the field house, including weddings and other gatherings, are canceled or postponed. Also located on the property and closed are the Oldham County Public Library’s Mahan branch (located in an old dairy barn) and City of Goshen’s Harmony Park.
Brown said she hopes the preserve’s popular Nature Camps and Thrive Summer Camps for ages 3-11 will still take place this year. With that said, “We will respond accordingly to best protect the health of our community, volunteers and staff.”
In an effort to stay connected with others, the preserve has launched a new “Take a Walk with Tavia” series in which Brown highlights a favorite wildflower or tree. These are posted every Wednesday and Saturday on Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve’s Internet website at www.KYNaturePreserve.org, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feed.

Brown


But there is nothing that can compare to actually walking the grounds while social distancing. “Nature is healing,” Brown said. “Getting outside is vital for our overall well-being and mental health. Especially during spring, Creasey Mahan’s two-acre Woodland Garden overflows with spring wildflowers and ferns. We invite visitors to sit on one of the benches, enjoy the songs of birds and listen to the creek, while enjoying the flowers. Once you visit, you won’t want to leave.”
As with other small businesses and non-profit organizations, now is an extremely challenging time for Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve because “all funding streams have stopped, yet we are serving more visitors than ever before. Our small staff is working hard to keep our 170-acres well maintained, safe and scenic. If our visitors donated even a small amount, such as $10 each, it would make a big difference,” she said.
A big fundraiser for the preserve, the second annual Butterfly Ball, was originally scheduled for Friday, May 29, and has been rescheduled for Friday, Sept. 18. “We hope all will be well in Kentucky at that point so this gorgeous event (featuring live butterflies) will bring us together in a joyful celebration.”
Another way to enjoy the outdoors and restore one’s mental, spiritual and physical heath is to take advantage of the Heritage Trail of Madison, said Bob Greene.
He is executive director of the Heritage Trail Conservancy, the volunteer-based organization that oversees and maintains the trail located in Madison, Ind.
A mile and a half portion of the two-mile Heritage Trail of Madison connects downtown Madison with its steep hilltop section, beginning at the intersection of Vaughn Drive and Vernon Street. “We want to make sure people have a place to go,” said Greene. “It’s the one place people can go to experience a bit of normalcy again.”
The trail is limited to hikers, walkers and bicyclists. Greene said that without a doubt there are more people using the trail since the coronavirus outbreak and they are abiding by the social distancing guidelines. There is also a police presence “which makes people feel secure and normal.”

Greene


The trail project began when the Heritage Trail Committee formed in 1995 implementing plans to put in a trail leading from the hilltop to downtown. By 2002, a paved trail existed from the Madison State Hospital (hilltop) section to the bridge.
Greene, originally from Pittsburg, became involved in 2007 when he moved to the Madison area. Two years later the committee name had changed to the Heritage Trail Conservancy. The vision was to build a linear park, said Greene. “I felt that in moving forward, we were not just building a trail but also acquiring green space.” This space has been protected from development and can now be shared by all.
There are different segments that branch off from the main trail. Crook Creek West Trail ends at Clifty Falls State Park, and the Crooked Creek East Trail ends at Dr. David Butler’s dental office, Greene said. The more remote Deer Path Trail is a rugged trail that follows the path of Crooked Creek.
In the early stages, “a significant amount of work was done through an Indiana Department of Natural Resources grant,” he said. In addition to many generous donors and volunteers, the project has been “a labor of love” to be shared with the people of Madison.
In order to turn the project into a reality, “we’ve done a lot of hard work over the years,” said Greene. Volunteers have cleaned brush and trees constantly to make sure families can enjoy the trail.
The Conservancy owns a total of 23 acres, which includes a park that will be getting some updates in the future. “We want to make it different from any other park.” The City of Madison has provided help as “a lot of the work we do is on city property.”
During the project, Greene was advised that “less is more; don’t overbuild,” he said. The trail has a natural beauty and so many different features. “Every season it turns into a different trail.”

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