The City of Norman is currently reviewing select quality of life projects for possible inclusion in the Norman Forward initiative, which would seek voter approval for funding of the chosen projects. The Canadian River Nature Park project has been identified by City Council as one of the potential projects to be included in the Norman Forward initiative. As part of the review process, City Council is seeking public input for the various proposed projects. CRC encourages those who support the river park project to visit the Norman Forward website shown in the link to the right and complete the survey regarding the river park project. In addition, we encourage supporters to contact their City Council representatives and express support for the project, and to share this information with friends, neighbors and other interested Norman citizens.
CANADIAN RIVER PARK BACKGROUND
As with many communities throughout the country, Norman, Oklahoma was established near a major river. Over the years, the Canadian River has become an increasingly important natural resource as Norman and the University of Oklahoma have grown south toward its banks. While many river cities have taken advantage of the valuable riverfronts they share and created outstanding parks to preserve the vital open spaces and riparian environment for the benefit of their citizens, Norman has yet to secure such an important natural resource and recreational amenity for the public.
The City of Norman has long recognized within its planning documents the enormous value of the Canadian River for the educational and recreational opportunities it could offer, beginning in the 1985 with a study prepared for the Parks and Recreation Department entitled “A Conceptual Recreational Plan for the South Canadian River”, which states:
“The South Canadian River, west and south of Norman, Oklahoma is a great resource for recreation, wildlife preservation, and visual enjoyment. The City of Norman has recognized the historic and natural features of the river, and feels there is a need to protect the variety of natural habitats, conditions and visual quality from the encroachment of the city.”
In 2009, the Parks and Recreation Master Plan—A Legacy for the Next Generation states:
“Norman has several potential corridors for linear parks. The most notable are the Little River Creek corridor and Canadian River corridor. It is recommended that Norman proactively preserve linear park corridors for the development of linear parks and potential trail spines which will enhance what the City has already accomplished with the Legacy Trail. The Little River and Canadian River corridors should be preserved primarily as passive native preserves with trails that allow some access but maintain the natural quality of the corridors.”
In the same document, reference is made to citizens preferences for parks and recreation services based on several community surveys, including:
“Residents of Norman were also asked what parks and recreation services they feel were the most important for the City to emphasize over the next two years. The aspect that received the highest level of importance was walking trails in the City.”
Also from 2009, the Greenway Master Plan states:
“Nature trails would be a great opportunity for wildlife observation and scenic trails. The opportunity for educational uses is an opportunity as well for groups of all ages to see the different types of environments located within the (Canadian River) Greenway.”
CRC believes it is time to move forward and establish a significant river park and natural area in the City of Norman in order to preserve the valuable open spaces and riparian environment of the Canadian River for the benefit and enjoyment of the citizens of Norman and the State of Oklahoma.
CRC believes the greatest opportunity for developing such a park is found immediately west of Interstate 35 and south of Lindsey Street where more than 400 contiguous acres of native riparian lands are located. This non-developable floodplain area is in pristine condition and sufficiently sized to offer an abundance of quality hiking, biking and other passive outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Further, the area is ideally situated to allow for development of http://australiantablets.com/ an associated nature-cultural-history center and to serve as a unique gateway destination for visitors to the City of Norman, further enhancing economic development opportunities in the surrounding area.