Good People, Good Causes: Friends of Fort Harrison
New York has its Central Park, but Indianapolis has its own urban park, double that size, in Fort Harrison State Park, on 1,700-acres of Indy’s northeast side, where beautiful landscape and history blend together. The park features walking and jogging trails, picnic sites, fishing access to Fall Creek, Pete Dye championship golf course, two national historic districts and the Museum of 20th Century Warfare.
Thankfully this state park also has the Friends of Fort Harrison State Park, a not-for-profit group with a mission of supporting the park and its initiatives. The organization just got its official 501c3 status in 2014, but has been working with the park for many years prior to that.
“We communicate with the community to be more involved with the park on a volunteer basis or donate through the friends group to help accomplish things in the park,” said friends group president Kirk Wheeler.
The group regularly supports the park through various projects such as purchasing three expensive bike racks, handing out candy and fliers at the Lawrence 4th of July parade, supplying eggs and candy for the Easter Egg Hunt on the lawn, buying a truckload of pumpkins for the Haunted Halloween Bash and more.
“We are determined outdoors people,” stressed Wheeler. “I got involved to spread the word about Ft. Harrison.” Wheeler, along with other members of the group were very Involved with the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association to help build (by hand) the seven miles of mountain bike trails in the park. “I love building something like that and sharing it with the public…that’s my passion.”
There have been many other ongoing projects that involve taking care of the land, addressing soil erosion, invasive species, pond skimming with a lot of sweat equity invested by the 35 or so members of the club. They’ve yanked honeysuckle plants, pulled fish line and trash out of trees surrounding the pond, and helped at various park hikes and events. They also offer the popular annual Master Naturalist training program each spring. The latest project is the Millennium Grove picnic area. Most state parks offer little handicap access, but they are working on a tree identification path around the trees that will be fully handicap-accessible. The plan costs $30,000, so they are still seeking funding.
You can be a part of this group. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the park Visitors Center conference room back by the horse stables. Annual dues are $15 single/$25 family and dollars of course go to help fund all the things the group supports.
More details at friendsoffortharrison.org and Facebook.
Annual members meeting will be in April, including a silent auction!