What began as a concept by Rotary’s environment committee nearly a decade ago finally came to a culmination recently.
The club held a grand opening for the completed second phase of the Rotary Eco-Trail, located within the O’Neill Nature Preserve in Chatham, on Saturday.
The event took place at the one of the trail access points, located at Midwood Oxley Park on Oxley Drive.
“I know this whole area is very well used,” said Chatham Rotary (Ontaria, Canada — District 6380) president Alysson Storey.
“Judging by the regular activity on the trail, basically all year round … it’s a very popular spot for all ages. Which is exactly what we as Rotarians envisioned.”
The trail is 1.4 kilometres of constructed and manicured crushed stone pathways. They are on both sides of the Brown Drain joined by a bridge last December.
Rotary partnered with the municipality, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, Carolinian Canada, and the O’Neill family.
The club provided $25,000 in seed funding and leveraged the project with another $25,000 in volunteer labour.
The support from the Chatham-Kent Community Partnership Fund was $50,000.
The parks and horticulture departments of the municipality were also involved.
“All of our Rotarians have been keen supporters of this project,” Storey said.
The project involved the moving of more than 40 fallen trees, while taking care to minimise the impact on the ecosystem.
A small number of trees were cut to gain access for the paths and allow the construction of the bridge.
There are signs, benches, and several wood carvings from Robbins Amazing Art.
Barry Fraser, the incoming district governor for Rotary District 6380, said there have been many compliments from the public about the trail.
He credited everyone involved in the project over the years.
“It’s great to see it realised here today,” he said.
Mayor Randy Hope said there is a need to preserve valuable natural amenities in Chatham-Kent.
He called the project a long journey but believes the effort was worth it in the end.
“Everybody has played a significant role,” he said.