Months after clear-cutting trees for the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River, the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has put its (sustainably sourced) wood where its mouth is.
In March, a 50-foot-wide area of trees near the park's BMX track was clear-cut to make way for construction vehicles working on the bridge. The construction zone crossed through the Wolf River trail system, and some trail users complained about the disturbance to the natural area.
At the time, then-Shelby Farms Park Conservancy deputy director Laura Adams promised trail users that new trees would be planted after the bridge was constructed.
The conservancy kept its word, and as of last week, all but a small strip of the trees have been planted.
"The only piece that's left is the access road from Humphreys Boulevard to the bridge," said Adams, who has since been named executive director of the conservancy. "The bridge is open, but there are still some things to be done."
Sustainably sourced pine temporarily decks the walkway of the 200-foot pedestrian bridge, which connects the new Wolf River Greenway to Shelby Farms. The bridge, along with a 1.5-mile stretch of the greenway, opened to the public in early December.
The pine walkway soon will be replaced with Brazilian hardwood, which already lines the sides of the bridge.
The Brazilan wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC guarantees worker-friendly, environmentally-conscious practices from the wood's origin to its delivery. A sign posted on the bridge explains the conservancy's dedication to completing construction with wood obtained in this way.
"We decided that it was really important to us to only use FSC-certified wood," Adams said. "The supplier wasn't able to get all of the wood to us in time to open the bridge when the Wolf River Greenway opened."
Adams said the pine that temporarily decks the bridge will be reused once the permanent hardwood is in place.
"[The pine] will be used for foot bridges that we need in other parts of the Wolf River trails, for benches in the park, and on the Shelby Farms Greenline," Adams said.
Adams expects the bridge to be dedicated in the spring and underlined that environmental concerns have been a priority throughout construction. "One hundred percent of the wood will be reused," Adams said. "None of it will go to waste."