VENETA, Ore. (KMTR) -- Volunteers in Zumwalt Park are celebrating a victory and continuing to work to keep the county green space open as the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to keep the park car free.
About 10 people volunteering through Friends of Zumwalt Park took to the county area near Veneta on Saturday, July 7th, 2012, to continue efforts to do landscaping and clean-up work there.
"The Lane County Parks Department has said yes, we can keep this as a walk in park, so this still remains to be a beautiful walk in park,” says Kat Niebel, a coordinator for Friends of Zumwalt Park.
The Friends of Zumwalt Park group recently won county approval to keep the area near Veneta a “walk-in” park only, even though the park has a road in and a parking lot that used to be open to all.
About six years ago, Lane County closed Zumwalt Park to everyone, including cars and foot traffic, due to budget cuts and upkeep costs.
Friends of Zumwalt managed to save the park though, working to mow, weed and clean-up trash there for free, which allowed foot traffic to remain open at the park.
“It's a lovely place to volunteer and you feel good and its an amazing group of people,” says Niebel.
Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers, managers of the nearby Fern Ridge Reservoir, pushed to open the park to cars.
But through a petition effort and with the Lane County Parks Department’s blessing, the Army Corps went back on the idea, keeping the park “walk-in” only.
“For us to get 700 signatures in the course of several weeks was phenomenal,” says Niebel.
Volunteers say keeping the park car free will allow volunteers to keep things cleaner and more peaceful in the natural area.
“There's this constant 365 day a year kind of help from this huge community,” says Neibel.
All Lane County does to maintain the park is to supply volunteers with a few gallons of gasoline to fuel the tools. The group is looking for other people to help out as well. If you’re interested, visit the following link: http://www.friendsofzumwaltpark.org
If you’re looking to check out Zumwalt Park or any of the other Lane County Parks in the area, the county is now charging a day use fee of $3 to get in. You can also buy a year long pass for $30.