Greenway Half Marathon Scheduled for Leaf Season

Sign up for the 2nd Annual Black Bear Half Marathon, a 13.1 & 4.97 mile running event presented by Hunter Subaru and Morris Broadband, on Saturday, Oct. 9th. These races offer a scenic, mostly flat course along the Oklawaha Greenway and through Hendersonville city streets. The fall scenery will be showing off its colors during leaf season! The organizer of the event, Idaph Inc, supports our Friends group because we help them with supplying volunteers.

As Idaph says, “Our boutique-style running events are where you can skip the crowds, and have an amazing, world-class running experience throughout the entire race!” SIGN UP to be a part of this special event:

Greenways, Multi-use Paths, and Nature Trails Top the List

In the fall of 2019, a consulting firm, ETC Institute, was hired by Henderson County to conduct a needs assessment as part of an effort to determine the priorities for parks, recreation facilities, programing, and events. A survey packet was mailed to a random sample of households, and the returned surveys were analyzed. However, because of Covid 19 a presentation of the results to the County Commissioners was postponed until this fall.

On September 15th ETC reported that the facilities most asked for by households were a greenway trail system, multi-use paved trails, and natural trails. All three of these ranked higher than 28 other facilities like dog parks, playgrounds, community gardens, rec centers, and tennis courts, to name a few.

We hope this needs assessment will be a strong indicator to our county leaders that greenways are a much-wanted and much-needed investment.

IRONWEED: Native Plant of the Month

The Greenway boasts a wealth of native plants, including those newly planted around the red kiosk. To help Greenway users identify native plants, Rachel Meriwether, head of the Horticulture program at Blue Ridge Community College, will introduce us to a native plant each month. A photo of the plant, along with basic information about it, will be posted both on the kiosk and on the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway website each month. Ironweed is our native plant for September. Be looking for them (hopefully blooming!) as you walk along the greenway. A special thank-you to Rachel, a new Friends member.

Have you seen Ironweed on the Greenway? Visit:

HOORAY! The Ecusta Trail Is Becoming a Reality!

A shout out to Conserving Carolina and Friends of the Ecusta Trail for working together to purchase the rail corridor from Hendersonville to Brevard! Their dream of creating a 19-mile greenway connecting Hendersonville and Brevard is moving one step ahead with the removal of the old tracks and ties from the rail bed. When completed, the trail will pass through Laurel Park, Etowah, Horseshoe, Penrose and Pisgah Forest. Long range plans call for links to other greenway and trail systems in Western North Carolina.

On August 12, EcustaRails2Trails, LLC, a subsidiary of Conserving Carolina, purchased the Rail corridor for $7.7 million. This is only the first step to make this dream a reality. Funds have to be raised to build the trail. Find out how you can contribute and be a part of this inspirational project:

Henderson County Plans for Future Growth and Development

Henderson County has begun a 14-month comprehensive planning process that will guide anticipated growth and development for the next 25 years. This is an opportunity for citizens to participate and encourage the adoption of a plan that plots a path toward sustainable growth. Throughout the process, your thoughts, ideas and participation will be vital.

Some of the survey questions relate to the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway's mission, and we recommend choosing answers that promote healthy communities, those that have increased sidewalks, bike lanes, greenway connections, and public transportation - methods of transportation that are equitable and serve all communities. We encourage long-range plans and land-use controls for more housing choice, and climate resilience — especially those that protect ecologically sensitive areas.

As a first step, please take the community survey and let the county know your priorities and concerns.

Burlingame Memorial Garden Taking Shape 

You may have noticed a native plant garden taking shape around the red kiosk on the Oklawaha Greenway. The garden is in memory of Wes Burlingame, a native plant lover, whose nursery, Laurel Springs, provided us with beauty and knowledge about the value of landscaping with natives. Wes’ legacy can be seen all around Hendersonville, in yards and public spaces. It may take a few years for the plants in the memorial garden to mature and fill in the space, so periodic weeding is necessary. If you can help us with this, please contact us through our website:

Unwanted Plants Along the Greenway

In many places along our greenway, invasive plants are getting a foothold. In October, MountainTrue will be hosting an invasive removal event along the greenway. Volunteers are needed! Please check our website for details.

Infestations come in many forms: as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns and forbs. They typically arrive without their natural predators of insects, diseases, and animals to keep them in natural balance. In the bigger picture, they are increasingly harmful to farm and forest productivity, hinder uses and management activities, degrade diversity, and affect wildlife. As they increase across the landscape with little opposition, it’s up to landowners, managers, and governments to control and reclaim the landscape.

Some of the most problematic for Henderson and Transylvania counties are oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, English ivy, tree-of-heaven, Japanese knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, and Chinese silvergrass. For a more complete list, please visit this link on our website:

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