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Taming the Wolf

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Dirt trails have been used along the Wolf River for years. Now the Wolf River Conservancy wants to pave the trails for a 22-mile greenway.

A greenway is open space adjacent to a river or stream with pedestrian and/or bicycle paths and areas for wildlife conservation. It can connect rivers, utility corridors, or abandoned railways.

Once complete, the Wolf River Greenway will allow hikers and bikers to go from the Mississippi River to Collierville without ever crossing a street.

"Memphis is really behind other cities when it comes to greenways," says Tom Roehm, president of the WRC. "People need long trails that take them places rather than going to the park and running in circles."

Building Bridges: The Wolf River Greenway would begin at the Mississippi River and run to Houston-Levee Road. Along the way, it would link the Mississippi River Greenbelt Park, Mud Island, and the Riverwalk with parks and neighborhoods from North Memphis, Frayser, Raleigh, and East Memphis.

Almost half of the proposed 4,614 acres for the trail were placed into easements when I-240 North was built, so they're already owned by the city.

"Mostly, we'd be putting in some man-made bridges over tributaries and creeks, similar to what they have on the trails in Germantown," says Roehm.

Finding the Money: The WRC estimates the project will cost about $25 million for land acquisition and construction and will be implemented over a 10- to 15-year time frame. Roehm says the city has slated about $500,000 in next year's budget for land acquisition.

At a recent meeting on the project, Bob Fouche, director of parks services for the city, said Memphis' already-strapped budget couldn't handle the project alone. He recommended the WRC seek money from private sources. Fouche will present the complete plan to the City Council in April.

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