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When is a match in the forest a good thing?

of-trail-startAnswer: When it’s part of ioby’s matching gift campaign–this week only!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten a little lost while walking in the Old Forest.

Or if you’ve run several loops of the limestone trail and wanted to know how far you’ve traveled.

A new Overton Park Conservancy project will make navigating the park’s trails easier and more informative.  But we’ll need your help…fast!

This week only, fundraising to improve our trail markers will get a big assist from the crowdfunding platform ioby (or “in our backyard”), which is offering $85,000 in matching funds to bring projects to life all over Memphis.  Today through Wednesday, April 15, you can double your gift to our project by donating through this link.

Our project goals are simple:

  • Add six mile markers along the 1.4-mile limestone trail.
  • Replace the worn and missing trail markers on the Old Forest Trail.
  • Update the interpretive map of the Old Forest Trail that was created by Park Friends in the 1980s, pointing out key features of the forest.
  • Add this interpretive content to our website so that it can be refreshed as needed.

For the first phase of this project, we’ll be concentrating on the Old Forest Trail, replacing the current markers with similarly natural-looking posts. This loop trail is representative of the forest as a whole, with skyscraping trees, birds and butterflies flitting through vines, and a carpet of incredible native wildflowers every spring.  The current trail markers are about 30 years old, and the ones that have survived are either broken, worn, or covered in graffiti.  It’s time for a facelift.

New mile markers on the limestone trail would follow a similar naturally-inspired template.  Runners will finally be able to track their distance on the limestone trail.

Park Friends map
This park map was created by Park Friends in the 1980s. We intend to follow the same trail when replacing the markers, while updating the content to reflect changes in the forest.

We’ll also be developing a new interpretive map that corresponds to the trail markers.  It will be available online as both an interactive map and a printable document.  The new map will call attention to particularly notable tree specimens, features like WPA bridges, and ecological phenomena like how soil is made.

Eventually, we would like to add markers to other trails in the forest, creating a unified, easy-to-navigate trail system.  As we implement our Natural Area Management Plan with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, we’ll be paying close attention to trail maintenance and navigation.

It’s all part of our larger effort to make visitors to the Old Forest feel welcome, safe, and well-informed.  Our new entrance gateways will lead you into the forest, and well-marked trails will allow you to immerse yourself in nature.  Help us kickstart this effort by making a gift of any amount today.

Click here to make your gift. The first $150 of every gift up to $1,750 will be matched by ioby, so your $50 gift becomes $100!  But hurry: the match campaign ends this week, so the deadline to give is Wednesday, April 15.