FOW works in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR), the Philadelphia Water Department, and dozens of other regional partners on a wide range of programs. Guided by our 2023 Strategic Blueprint, we are committed to conserving Wissahickon Valley Park through advancing three areas of strategic priority: infrastructure, habitat, and engagement.
Friends of the Wissahickon plans, funds, and oversees trail construction, habitat restoration, and infrastructure improvement projects to increase access and sustainability throughout Wissahickon Valley Park. Ongoing capital projects include the Valley Green Road Pedestrian Bridge to improve access to the much-used park gateway, and Restroom Master Plan to expand restroom facilities for the public.
Sustainable Trails Initiative:
Active since 2006, the Sustainable Trails Initiative (STI) is a multi-year campaign to create a sustainable trail network that limits erosion and protects the fragile forest habitat while enhancing recreational experiences throughout the park. Recent projects include the “Monster” section of the yellow trail and Quarry Loop trail projects.
Friends of the Wissahickon plans for the proper management of the park’s resources by leading and participating in planning efforts designed to prioritize conservation actions. FOW has led and participated in various local and regional planning efforts on wayfinding and signage, trail construction, water quality, and forest management.
Ecological Land Management:
In 2020, Friends of the Wissahickon completed the Ecological Land Management (ELM) Plan in cooperation with researchers from the Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences, a comprehensive survey of the various ecosystems in Wissahickon Valley park that will inform future FOW habitat restoration projects. Data collection gaps in the ELM Plan will be addressed in future by volunteer habitat monitoring efforts.
The Joint Easement Program:
Jointly managed by Friends of the Wissahickon and the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, the program provides a means for landowners can voluntarily limit future development of their property to protect important conservation values.
Friends of the Wissahickon supports a wide variety of volunteer programming and training opportunities. FOW volunteers rebuild trails, plant trees, remove vines, eliminate invasive plants and replace them with native species, clean up trash and debris, remove graffiti, control erosion, and repair structures; additionally, FOW offers annual trainings to volunteers specializing in education, trail construction, and repairing historic park structures.
Friends of the Wissahickon hosts free public lectures, guided walks, special events, and installs interpretive signage in the park to educate the public about important current environmental topics. We additionally partner with the Wissahickon Environmental Center, Let’s Go Outdoors, and the Philadelphia School District on the Little Friends of the Wissahickon Program.
Advocacy and Policy Making:
Friends of the Wissahickon and our partners work to ensure that local and state policies continue to support FOW’s mission and our longstanding commitment to environmental protection.
Strategic Blueprint 2018-2020
FOW’s Strategic Blueprint 2018-2020 confirms FOW’s commitment to preserving all that the Wissahickon is and outlines the work FOW will execute in Wissahickon Valley Park over the next three years. It took more than two years for FOW’s Board of Directors and staff to complete the strategic planning process—an undertaking characterized by actively sought community input. We invited comments at a large public meeting, held two focus groups of park stakeholders, and conducted an online survey. We also conducted dozens of interviews with park stakeholders and FOW partners.
The Blueprint shares our programmatic approach and takes you through an abbreviated version of the process FOW undertook—the topics and questions we explored—in order to arrive at our three areas of strategic priority: habitat, infrastructure, and engagement.