The LOR Foundation and JHLT partnered in 2011 to purchase the 41-acre property located to the north and west of the Highway 22 Bridge over the Snake River. It includes the Wilson boat launch, a popular community access point for boating, angling, swimming, and pedestrian paths along the levee.
Over the past five years, R Park has been reclaimed from a private commercial gravel pit into a public-access natural park visited by over 5,000 people a year. The new grant from the LOR Foundation will allow JHLT to complete the park’s transformation, providing visitors with a park experience that includes a welcome pavilion, connected pathways and bridges, permanent restroom facilities, trail signage, a picnic shelter, bike racks, benches and additional landscaping and reclamation.
“As a foundation that is founded on the idea that small, rural communities ought to have the resources, tools, and support they need to create thriving, beautiful places to live, we are proud to help usher the transformation of R Park into an invaluable community asset,” said LaMonte Guillory, chief communications officer at the LOR Foundation. “We are confident in having JHLT manage the completion of the construction for R Park as we believe in their commitment to the park’s success for the benefit of the community.”
The park will be completed in three phases over the next 24 months and will remain open as construction is occurring, but portions of the property may be closed or inaccessible during certain phases. The community is welcome and encouraged to regularly visit R Park during construction, and JHLT will focus on gathering feedback from users regarding future park programming and activities for visitors of all ages.
Pete Lawton, board chair of JHLT said, “We are honored to accept this grant from the LOR Foundation and excited to take on the task of creating a community space that is designed to connect people to land and nature. Conservation is our primary focus, and we are thankful to the LOR Foundation for understanding that protecting public access lands is integral to livability and that open spaces contribute significantly to our quality of life.”
The Land Trust currently holds a conservation easement on the property, which guarantees public access to open spaces, riverfront trails and other recreational amenities in a natural setting, and preserves the possibility for boat launch and pathway improvements, including the Snake River pathway bridge landing that was completed in 2014.