Fostering the Development and Preservation of Trails and Greenways in the Greater Fox Cities Region!
“Area residents seized the brief opportunity to ride bikes, in-line-skate,
and enjoy a hike on the newly constructed Hwy 441 prior to its opening to vehicular traffic.
This event prompted citizens, municipalities and counties to begin addressing
the need for urban trails and greenways in the summer of 1993”
Appleton Post Crescent, 1993
The Greenways Committee, which had been championed by Ron VanderVelden (Kaukauna environmental teacher and supervisor for the Outagamie County Board), impacted the trail and greenway system in the Fox Cities region by communicating, coordinating, and encouraging trail linkages with state and local governments. The community support and funding for trails increased and the jump-start excitement offered by the CE Trail led to further trail expansion. This along with the steady work by the county park, planning and highway departments, other committees, and support from citizens highlighted the need for a nonprofit that could consistently advocate and foster trail development in the Fox Cities.
On June 8 of 1994, Fox Cities Greenways met for the first time. Val Wylie, Jim Duncan and Sue Kinde were instrumental in the formation of Fox Cities Greenways Inc. (FCGI). They saw the need for a regional non-profit which could advocate and coordinate trail development. Sue Kinde, who was the Natural Resources Committee Chairperson for League of Women Voters, brought vision and the capacity for doing the time consuming work required in establishing Fox Cities Greenway as a 501c3 nonprofit. Her positive energy, enthusiasm, and gift for bringing people together to accomplish impressive goals gave life to Fox Cities Greenways as well as other organizations in the Fox Cities. Val Wylie, Executive Director of the Fox Cities Visitors Bureau, and her organization provided start-up support for establishing Fox Cities Greenways as a nonprofit. Jim Duncan, FCGIs’ first president, who had traveled widely cross-country by bike, advocated on behalf of development of greenways and trails in the Fox Cities. FCGI would facilitate the development and linking of area trails through fundraising, fostering public support and efforts to educate officials on the benefits of trails.
Fox Cities Greenways, Inc. incorporated January 23, 1995 and is funded by annual membership dues, grants, and donations. Its mission to foster the development and preservations of trails and greenways in the greater Fox Cities region of Wisconsin. FCGI would partner, share resources and information, and facilitate planner meetings with municipalities developing trails and greenspaces. The initial board was comprised of a twenty member board of directors who were eligible to serve two consecutive three-year terms. This group of incredible people from a variety of backgrounds brought great energy and much talent to the organization. The charter board of directors included James Duncan (President), Sue Kinde (Vice-President), Vickie Milde (Secretary) Teri Marx (Treasurer), Frank Church, John Jerow, Kurt Barnes, Ron VanderVelden, Bob Stadel, Linda Stoll, Fred Scharnke, among others. Initially, according to Sue Kinde, past president, “This group thought they would be the ones with the shovels and wheelbarrows building the trails. We learned what was really needed were people to advocate for the trails, push hard when necessary, and keep at it until the trails were built.”
Fox Cities Greenways Inc. may have as many as 18 Board of Directors who serve a maximum of two consecutive three year terms. FCGI currently has twelve Board of Directors from communities throughout the Fox Cities region. Typically, the Board of Directors come from diverse backgrounds including community officials, recreation enthusiasts, trail users, and others interested in connecting and preserving recreational resources in the Fox Cities region.
In 1995, the Fox Cities region had two established trails totaling 21.6 miles, the Wiouwash Trail, a 20.6 mile trail from Oshkosh to Hortonville and the 1 mile NewBerry trail in Appleton. Since 2005, the Fox Cities region has expanded the existing trail system from 55 miles of public recreation trails to 90 miles. Work by Fox Cities Greenways Inc., local and county governments, City Park and Recreation Departments, DNR, and other nonprofits continue the expansion of trails in the Fox Cities.
FCGI has played an important role in developing and supporting projects, events, and programs which encourage the use of green spaces and trails. A summary of current and past projects initiated or supported by FCGI includes:
- Creation of the Fox Cities Paper Trail and continued support for development and linkages of the Fox Cities Paper Trail, a 43-mile trail loop linking the Fox Cities.
- Rack & Roll-Valley Transit Bus/bike rack program.
- The Friendship Trail from the City of Menasha to High Cliff State Park.
- The CE Trail along County Highway CE to Weiler Road and toward the Fox River Trail.
- Recreational trail linking High Cliff State Park and Calumet County Park.
- Lead efforts to develop multi-modal corridor along STH 467 and USH 114 between Appleton and Neenah.
- Initiated Bike Week in the Fox Valley.
- Began promoting Safe Routes to School prior to the program’s initiation by the State of Wisconsin.
- Support for the creation of the Newton Blackmour Wildlife Trail between the cities of Seymour and New London, and formation of the Newton Blackmour Wildlife Trail Friends Group.
- FCGI hosts Trails for Tomorrow, an annual trail planning workshop.
- Collaboration with regional agencies in support of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway and related water trails, portage trails, and bicycle/pedestrian routes.
- Hosts Trails for Tomorrow, an annual trail planning workshop with the goal of inspiring community leaders to develop bike and pedestrian facilities
- FCGI along with its first-time sponsor Scheels is hosting Happy Trails, a 6k run/walk and 10k bike event which encourages health, fitness, fun, and safety.
Fox Cities Greenways Inc. continues to promote recreational trails in the greater Fox Cities region. It supports local and state government by encouraging the linkages of trails and greenways and endorses the strong economic advantages of having greenspaces and sustainable trails. Moreover, FCGI encourages health/wellness and outdoor activities in our community, provides restricted funds for specific trail and greenways, and believes in building upon our current infrastructure for the benefit of future generations.