Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High-Flying Adventure Coming Soon to Creve Coeur Park

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High-Flying Adventure Coming Soon to Creve Coeur Park

Article excerpt

MARYLAND HEIGHTS * County parks official Anne Klein admitted to being a bit skeptical when a developer from Maryland pledged to seamlessly integrate recreation and nature at a tree-line adventure course in Creve Coeur Park.

Klein, assistant director of the St. Louis County Parks system, said she was reassured after a visit to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, one of five courses the developer, Go Ape!, operates at publicly funded U.S. recreational areas.

Zipping across a canopy of Indiana trees, Klein said, "I knew it would be an asset to the St. Louis County parks and also the community."

In mid-June a team of French designers and builders began assembling the 2,600-foot Creve Coeur Park course across approximately 10 acres of deeply ravined forest in the Uplands section of the park, overlooking Creve Coeur Lake.

Weather permitting, the course will open by the end of this month .

The first group of 10 locally hired employees were on site last week reviewing training videos, exploring the course and learning the ropes.

The developer backed away from its first choice, Greensfelder Park in West County, after equestrians questioned the compatibility of horses on trails and people zipping overhead through the trees.

A February announcement that Go Ape! had selected Creve Coeur Park as an alternative site, meanwhile, drew fire from bird watchers concerned that the facility would disrupt the nesting and migratory patterns of the 425 species inhabiting woods near the lake.

Mitch Leachman, executive director of the St. Louis Audubon Society, said he was encouraged that a third of the course was situated outside the bird sanctuaries in a heavily forested area of the park.

He also said he's pleased that the design team barely disturbed the underbrush beneath the course that also serves as a bird habitat.

"It makes me feel a little less anxious that the overall degradation of the habitat is less than we thought it would be," Leachman said, adding that concerns still remained about the potential environmental impact on the bird population.

Dan D'Agostino, a Go Ape! managing director, said Audubon representatives had received a promise that the company would place signs in several of the 39 staging areas highlighting the birds and other wildlife found along the course. …

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