Thomas Hill, Wayne County District Coordinator for the Cardinal Greenway

Forward Wayne County is focused on the Environment this month. We asked Thomas Hill, the Wayne County District Coordinator for the Cardinal Greenway, to talk about the trails.

About the Greenway

The Cardinal Greenway is a 62 mile rail-trail that spans from Marion to Richmond. Thomas Hill coordinates fundraising and volunteer efforts for the trail in Wayne County, which runs from Richmond to Losantville. Two maintenance workers, and many volunteers, upkeep the trails to make them appealing for the residents of Wayne County

Removing Invasive Plants

Among the countless benefits that the trail provides to our area, the Cardinal Greenway serves our environment in many ways. For example: Thomas is currently working on an invasive species removal plan. This summer, a group of volunteers will remove invasives from a test plot on the trail, with the hopes of expanding along the Greenway.

The Greenway is about 670 acres, with forest on a large portion of that land. However, due to the design, the forests are only 40 feet deep on either side of the path. Invasive plants target the edges of a forest with the most direct sunlight. This makes the Greenway a perfect environment for invasives like honeysuckle, garlic mustard, and the like.

Fostering Wildlife and Getting Active

In removing invasive plant species and replanting native plants in their place, areas along the trail will be easier to maintain while also benefitting the area wildlife. And, on the topic of wildlife, they also find a lot of benefit from the Greenway!

Many animals recognize the trail as a safe place due to the lack of motorized vehicles. This encourages animal populations and creates an ideal environment for them to thrive. It also serves as a teachable environment for our residents. “Members in our community who don’t necessarily go out into places like forests can get unique wildlife experiences on the trail, right here in town,” Thomas says excitedly.

Observing animals in the wild is just one benefit offered to individuals on the trail. The Greenway is free to use and is open 24/7, making it an ideal environment to exercise and decompress after a long day. You can even utilize one of the many free exercise stops along the route for an additional workout!

An exercise station with balance beams, pull-up bars, and more

If you’re a biker, there are bike maintenance stations with tools available to use at any time! You can bring your own bike or rent one just a few blocks from the trailhead on D Street in Richmond at the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse. Created in partnership with Reid Community Foundation in 2017, the bike rental program rents out bicycles for free for use on the Cardinal Greenway. Each year, the number of individuals who use this program doubles!

Stations with air pumps and common tools are located along the trail for bikers to use!

A Look Ahead

Since stepping into this role in January, Thomas has hit the ground running. He’s been hard at work on grants and programs designed to enhance the Cardinal Greenway. Besides the aforementioned invasive removal plans, Thomas is coordinating with area partners to bring engaging programs to Wayne County. These programs cover topics ranging from a bat-centric hike to a Couch to 5k program, with more on the horizon.

The Cardinal Greenway staff are also preparing for their 10th annual BikeTOURberfest, which is held on October 1st. This event, which will be in-person for the first time in two years, is the Cardinal Greenway’s only fundraiser for the year. Bikers from around the state come together for a ride and help raise funds that go right back into the trail.

The Cardinal Greenway is a local gem that benefits us all; from red-tailed hawks to you and your family and everyone (and everything!) in between. This 62-mile oasis provides a safe place to engage with nature, nurture your mental and physical health, and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. If you are interested in volunteering your time to help maintain the trails, or want to contribute in any other way, Thomas can be reached at (765) 716-3619 or by email.

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