The city of Franklin, Tenn. found a unique way to blend a parks sports facility with urban forestry by incorporating a low-impact disc-golf course into an underutilized area within a park.
Located on the east side of town, Liberty Park is 75 acres with heavily wooded land in the back 15 acres. With elevation changes of 100 to 200 feet and uneven terrain, the city’s parks department envisioned a disc-golf course as a great use for the area. With the help of the Williamson County Disc Golf Association, a 10-hole course was designed and construction was underway in fall 2008. The parks department saw this as a great opportunity to implement sustainable practices, employee training and public education while managing an urban forest.
A Multi-Use Venue
The city’s arborist, Todd Snackenberg, used the course-development area to conduct chainsaw safety and train park employees. As the staff gained experience, training moved toward work sessions to remove dead or dying trees throughout the course. Non-native invasive species also were targeted for removal. Great care was taken to remove as little native material as possible and to leave the area in its natural state. The fairways and access paths were lined with the large and medium trees that were removed from the course.
With assistance from the Solid Waste and Streets Departments, over 272 tons of mulch was used to fill in the fairways and access paths. The mulch–which contained tree clippings and recycled Christmas trees from homeowners–was processed at the Solid Waste Department before being transported to the disc course. In doing this, the city saved more than $55,000 in transportation and landfill costs. The city will continue to re-mulch on a yearly basis in an effort to continue the savings.
As residents and visitors use this addition to the park system, it is hoped that it will show that urban forestry and development can coexist in a positive and educational way.
Though we are not in the business of camp operations, this setting is very similar to what one would find at a camp facility. These “green” ideas or models can be incorporated in many ways for use in developing camp trails and facilities, adding alternative uses and programs, community service projects, scouting projects, and demonstrates an alternative method to save money, recycle, and add usable features to a facility or program. The concept of installing a low-impact activity, such as disc-golf course, within a wooded environment creates a variety of programming and revenue-generating opportunities within a cost-effective framework.