Completing a Loop and Forging a Partnership

Omaha, NE | December 2013 | By National Recreation and Park Association

Completing a Loop and Forging a Partnership 410

When the Missouri River overflowed its banks in May of 2011, a summer of unprecedented Midwest flooding followed—washing away miles-long stretches of highway and displacing thousands of people from Montana to Missouri. Omaha, Nebraska, suffered extensive damage to land and property—including the destruction of a number of trails and trail amenities.

As a result of the flood damage, the Omaha Parks Foundation (OPF), a nonprofit chartered to support special park projects outside of the city’s normal budget, was faced with a growing list of needs—in addition to the day-to-day park programming it was already supporting. Moreover, the foundation and park system were also eager to begin Phase 1 of an important two-part trail connection plan—the 2.1-mile South Omaha Trail project linking the eastern portion of the Keystone Trail to a city intersection. So, when Amber Miller, OPF’s executive director, received the Great American Trails grant, she was ecstatic.

The grant provided much needed trail seating and signage—and these amenities also set a standard for Phase 2 of the project—the extension of the trail from the city intersection to the Field Club Trail, the final step in completing Omaha’s trail loop.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the South Omaha Trail opening marked the beginning of a dynamic local partnership between LongHorn Restaurant staff and Omaha’s parks. Miller, who is used to pitching potential donors, says it was a pleasant surprise to begin getting calls from the local LongHorn management offering practical ideas for ongoing support of the city’s parks and trails.

Local residents are thrilled with the South Omaha Trail, Miller adds. She shares that when she saw a couple out riding bikes in the 100-degree heat, she asked whether it wasn’t too hot to be out on the trail. “Oh no, we love this,” came the response. “It’s a great way for us to get where we need to go—and the trail is just gorgeous.”