The Oklahoma City Community Foundation recently completed a major tree-planting project along the Oklahoma River’s north shore, officially opening the Oklahoma City Community Foundation River Trail with a May 15 dedication ceremony.
The landscaping project and the river trail dedication was part of the Community Foundation’s 50-year anniversary celebration.
“Through the years, the Community Foundation has helped donors impact the quality of life in our community, and this project is another example of how those generous gifts can make a difference,” said Nancy Anthony, Oklahoma City Community Foundation president.
Starting last November, the organization has worked with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority to plant 800 trees, along with wildflowers and native grasses on the stretch of river trail between Harvey and Portland avenues. The trail project also included several rest stops with seating.
The dedication event featured a ceremonial tree planting near Wheeler Park as well as dozens of runners, cyclists and walkers who took the first excursions onto the newly named trail. Golf carts also carried guests on tours of the wildflower patches and tree groves that are beginning to bloom.
“We are proud of our expanding system of trails along the river and across Oklahoma City,” said Doug Kupper, director of the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department. “These enhancements will create shade glades, improve aesthetics on the river and provide cooling places for trail users.”
The trail project helps accomplish several long-term objectives outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan and its master plan for parks. In addition to encouraging more trail usage by increasing shade with a tree canopy, the project provides a transition from the western half of the Oklahoma River Trail to Scissortail Park and the Boathouse District.
“This project is a prototype,” said Brian Dougherty, horticulturist and landscape architect for the Community Foundation. “We will look for other landscaping enhancement opportunities along Oklahoma City’s 100 miles of trail and throughout the parks system.”
Through its Parks and Public Space Initiative, the Community Foundation has awarded nearly $3.5 million in public beautification and landscape enhancement projects throughout Central Oklahoma. The initiative grew out of a $1.5 million gift from the estate of Oklahoma City school teacher Margaret Annis Boys, who had a passion for Oklahoma native landscapes.