July 2016 Winner: Jed Olson
An update from Jed…
After discussions with other parents at State Road School, there was interest in improving the forest and trails behind the school. The forest has waxed and waned in student use over the years, and lately has shown the signs of neglect and lack of management. Invasive species and unsustainable trails have made the forest difficult to use and threaten the health of the forest. As we began to devise a plan to move forward, we decided to “pitch SOUP” as a way to jumpstart the fundraising efforts needed to begin developing a plan for the forest. Last summer’s SOUP crowd was receptive to the idea of the project and we walked away with $655 to start the process. We were able to partner with the Outdoor Recreation Alliance, a local nonprofit focusing on developing and protecting recreational opportunities in the area and became one of their focus programs. Some additional private fundraising allowed us to apply for, and receive, a mini grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation. The funds raised have allowed the needed time and effort to develop a partnership with the city and county, who own the land, as well as State Road School and Hillview Health Care Facility, who’s students, staff and residents will greatly benefit from the project. We have also held several forest work days and two community input sessions.
The City and County have both been receptive to the work we are doing and are thrilled to have a group willing to put in efforts needed to develop these goals. The Outdoor Recreation Alliance continues to be the clearing house for local recreation projects and has been very supportive of this particular project. We are continuing to work with the city and county to develop agreements to move forward with more detailed plans and the City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation, and Forestry department has suggested that they will be improving the pathway between State Road School and Chad Erickson Memorial Park so it can be used year-round and by a more diverse population, giving access to green spaces to more and more people.
We are continuing to raise the funds needed to develop detailed studies and plans of the area and implement improvements that will increase community health through education, conservation, and recreation on the property. If your business or organization sees the value in this type of community development, please give us a call or send an email, and we’ll work to develop a positive partnership.
If you would like to stay up to date on upcoming events and efforts, you can check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/laxcommunityforest/ or website www.laxcommunityforest.org (coming soon) where you can also make online contributions.
Thank you to all who have supported us on this project,
If you have further questions or would like to donate, you can contact us at:
La Crosse Community Forest
Outdoor Recreation Alliance
PO Box 173
La Crosse, WI 54602
(Checks can be made out to “ORA Forest”)