Let’s face it: as the stay-at-home order continues, we’re all going a little stir-crazy and want to get some fresh air and outdoor exercise, especially when the beauty of spring in the Wissahickon Valley beckons. But when too many people have the same idea, recommended social distancing is harder to achieve. And without staff and volunteer crews who typically clear trash and maintain trails, this sudden influx of visitors has a negative impact on the park’s health as well.
Obviously, public well-being is our top priority. So, while the park remains open, ongoing directives from health experts and local, state and federal agencies remind us that the best way to keep ourselves and others safe at this time is to stay home. If you need to visit in the park for a short mental health break, go. Get that relief in nature, then be safe and get home.
Even though the COVID-19 crisis prevents our nature-loving FOW community from convening at our events and on our guided hikes, we want to keep them connected to the Wissahickon. We also want to engage with new audiences who may have recently visited the park and may not know about our conservation mission and the uniqueness of the Wissahickon Valley. That’s why FOW created the online Virtual Valley, bringing the outside in with videos and resources, maps, trivia, art, interactive family fun, live-streamed events and other Wissahickon-focused activities, all to help create the next-best thing to being there.
Share your Wissahickon stories, photos and artwork; consult the “Creekside Classroom” for homeschooling material; and enjoy some much-needed moments of Zen in the “Peace in the Valley” section. Looking ahead, FOW intends to move more educational programming and events online with a series of lectures on the park’s rich history, geology, flora and fauna, starring dedicated Trail Ambassadors and other volunteer experts. Please explore the Wissahickon online with us at fow.org/virtual-valley.
Though working remotely, FOW staff are continuing to collect reports from the public on conditions in the park and share this information with partners throughout the city. You can report non-emergency park problems, donate and sign up for updates about the park by texting WISS to 267-966-2207.
And throughout this public health crisis, our mission to conserve the Wissahickon — our urban oasis, important wildlife habitat and source of drinking water for one third of Philadelphians — is unwavering. Now more than ever, FOW is grateful for the outpouring of community support we’ve seen and on which we rely to help us ensure the survival of our beloved Wissahickon. Joining our monthly Sustainer Program and contributing any amount makes the work we do possible. Learn how at fow.org/sustainerprogram (and select a free thank-you gift). Stay connected with us at fow.org and on social media (@FOWissahickon) as we expand our Virtual Valley content and continue to share ways you can support the Wissahickon Valley Park from the comfort of your own home!
Stay safe and healthy!