Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – If you enjoy walking the trails of Fort Wayne’s Greenways and tidying up a bit, you could become a Greenway Ranger. Ken Silkworth has been riding along the trails for years. For the last three years he’s been a Greenway Ranger. “I noticed that there were a few trashy areas that needed to be cleaned up,” said Silkworth. “Then I found out about the ranger program and volunteered and I’ve been cleaning up trails ever since.”
The 71-year old and others like Steve Newbauer and Gary Williams are among 92 volunteers who patrol the trails.”These citizen volunteers, these Greenway Rangers are very vital and essential to a well maintained trail system,” said Dawn Ritchie, Greenways Manager with the City of Fort Wayne. “We’ve got 92 rangers and they’re spread out on our trail system and they check the trails on a regular basis from April through October. They go through special training with our Greenways and Trails Department and Fort Wayne Police Department. They’re issued a Greenway Ranger vest so they’re identifiable on the trails. They’re also issued an ID from our police department.”
Before volunteers are sent out to clean up trash and other eyesores, they also get bags, gloves and litter pickup sticks. Each covers about a mile of the city’s 99 miles of trails. “They’re our eyes and ears out there,” said Ritchie. “My assistant and I can’t be out there on the trails 99 miles all the time.”
“It keeps the trails clean and safe,” said Silkworth. “When we have storms and stuff and the limbs get blown down we always go through and pick up the pieces of wood and debris to get them off the trails before somebody runs over them.” The rangers have been patrolling since 2005. As the greenway and trails system grows so does the number of volunteers.
“We have thousands of hours of volunteer hours each year from our volunteer rangers and I believe with the volunteer hours you look at about 12 to 15 dollars an hour so that saves tens of thousands for maintenance responsibilities along our trail system.”
For more information about the Greenway Rangers Program go to the Greenway Rangers page on the City of Fort Wayne website or call the Greenways Department at 427-6228.