Friends of the Wissahickon: You Can Help Reduce the Hefty Cost of Caring For the Park

by 
Maura McCarthy, Executive Director, Friends of the Wissahickon
photos by Charles Uniatowski
Horseback riding.

Join FOW on Saturday, Nov. 10 for Fall Love Your Park Day

FOW could use your help on this super Saturday service day. We’re working on the Mt. Airy Avenue and Summit Avenue trails. Planting starts at 9 a.m.; meet at the Wissahickon Environmental Center House.

Registration is recommended in case of cancellation at fow.org/event/19-fall-love-your-park/. For more information contact FOW Volunteer Coordinator Shawn Green at green@fow.org.

What price can you put on the value of Wissahickon Valley Park to the environment, to history, to tranquility? The Wissahickon, a National Natural Landmark, is a treasured resource to our community. Whether you’re exploring the park with your family, walking your dog, running, cycling, horseback riding, or observing the park’s wide variety of bird, mammal, and plant species, it’s your destination. That’s priceless. 

But keeping the Wissahickon flourishing comes with a price. There are tremendous costs associated with conserving all that our beloved park has to offer. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration invested $850,000 in the Wissahickon to build picnic shelters, guard houses, toilets, and trails, but today, such significant public funding is dwindling. Now more than ever, we must look to other sources to keep our programs and operations going. 

Communities grow stronger when they unite around a common passion. Friends of the Wissahickon is a vibrant, engaged community of more than 2,500 households. Last year, our nearly 1,200 volunteers donated 12,617 hours of time in service to Wissahickon Valley Park. They, along with our generous corporate and civic partners, share a love for the Wissahickon and a commitment to conserving its many gifts. There truly is strength in numbers. 

Whether support comes from reaching into pockets or for a rake to clear trails, it counts toward making FOW’s work possible. In 2018 alone, FOW improved 10.33 miles of trails, cleared 122 fallen trees, replaced more than 90 fence rails, controlled 8.56 acres of invasive plants, and planted 657 native trees and shrubs. And, this doesn’t include our massive Forbidden Drive Streambank Stabilization Project. 

Here’s what donations of the following amounts can provide:

  • $75 installs and monitors four bird boxes. These boxes attract species such as the Eastern bluebird, threatened by invasive nest competitors and disappearing habitat, that thrive in areas like our Andorra and Houston meadows. A $1,000 donation funds the bluebird box program for six months. 
  • $100 supports the training of one Trail Ambassador or Crew Leader. Our TAs host public hikes and provide knowledge about and assistance in the park, while crew leaders improve trails and restore the natural habitat. 
  • $500 provides the materials needed to remove graffiti for one day, to help keep the Wissahickon clean and beautiful for visitors. 
  • $2,500 funds the materials needed for one acre of sustainable habitat restoration by replacing invasive plants with native species, which are vital to the natural balance of the Wissahickon. 

On behalf of FOW, thank you for showing how much you value where you live. Know that every time you volunteer or make a gift to support the park, you have made a direct, lasting investment in the future of the Wissahickon for future generations.