In our current world of uncertainty, it’s especially comforting to know the Wissahickon Valley Park is always there for you. Throughout this difficult year, you’ve sought its beauty and solace in record numbers. At the same time, the pandemic and necessary safety protocols have severely limited FOW’s usual volunteer and outreach operations, requiring us to think outside of the box about different ways to stay connected and improve your park experience.
With that in mind, we’re excited to introduce our new Map App! Instead of having FOW information tables just at popular trailheads, our app is like a virtual welcome table throughout the Wissahickon. It allows visitors to access an interactive map of the entire park simply by downloading a free app on their mobile phones. At the touch of a button, information on trails, parking, restrooms and park amenities is available in English and Spanish, as well as tips for an enjoyable park visit.
Although Trail Ambassadors are not leading full-scale Walks and Talks right now, you can still benefit from their expert knowledge on the Wissahickon’s habit, geology, early history, and more. They have curated information for us on dozens of points of interest that you can listen to in the app as you explore the park.
FOW’s digital transformation offers valuable information to our field staff as well. Over the summer, they created effective digital maps of our trails, structures, plantings and projects to be able to log reports of damages, volunteer activity and stewardship needs in all areas of the park. By collecting several years’ worth of data from park damage reporting and zone assessments, FOW can understand the flow of users at our most popular trailheads and allocate resources more effectively to improve areas of the park in the upcoming winter and spring seasons.
Applying technology to FOW’s outreach, development and stewardship enables us to more efficiently use our resources and connect with more park visitors than ever before.
The free app is available to download on iOS (Apple devices) at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/wissahickon-valley-park-map/id1533810252. While an Android-capable version of the app is still in development, for now, Android users can access a web version on their phone’s browser at https://web-app.cuseum.com/?friends-of-wissahickon.
FOW’s year-round work is to keep the park a sustainable, robust urban forests while protecting it from climate change, invasive plants and even its own popularity, which impacts the health of the trails and the watershed. Just as the Wissahickon is there for you, we ask that you be there for the Wissahickon so that together, we can foster a cleaner, greener and more equitable park. During this season of giving, please consider a gift of general or sustainer membership to yourself or someone else. Thank you, and may you and yours have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.