St. Louis County approves treetop adventure course in Creve Coeur Park
By: Sarah Wilson
Despite considerable opposition, the St. Louis County Council on Feb. 19 approved with a vote of 5-1 an outdoor treetop activities course with a zip line, swings and hanging obstacles into Creve Coeur Park.
“It’s unfortunate from our (St. Louis Audubon Society) perspective since we were opposed to it in that location due to our concerns of the impact it may have on bird populations and their habitat,” said Mitch Leachman, executive director for the St. Louis Audubon Society.
He said the organization attended every County Council meeting where the activities course was discussed and expressed its opposition each time.
“But I want to emphasize that we were opposed to it in that location,” Leachman said. “We made no particular judgment about the activity itself. We just felt pretty optimistic that there are other places where this activity could be done.”
Resident opposition in December 2012 triggered St. Louis County to rethink its proposed plan of bringing the activities course into its Greensfelder Park in Wildwood. Instead, it moved on to Creve Coeur Park with a similar plan.
Leachman said the area identified in Creve Coeur Park is within something that the Audubon Society designated as an important bird area, a site that provides an essential habitat for one or more species of bird. There are a total of four parks within the St. Louis County system that are within these IBAs.
“There is a time and place for everything, and everything is not warranted or appropriate in every location,” Leachman said. “And so that was the basis of our objections and our concerns.”
However, Tom Ott, acting director for the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation, said, “we were very hopeful that it would go through and were very pleased that it went through.”
Ott said Go Ape!, the company that proposed the course, would design, build and staff it. He also said it would bring 12 new jobs to the St. Louis area.
“Go Ape! will work with St. Louis County Parks and any park partners in the project,” Ott said. “Here in the U.S., Go Ape! has worked with other park partners to ensure environmental impacts are mitigated, and we’re going to do the same here. There’s no heavy equipment used to construct the course. They’re also going to have to go through and get any kind of permits that are required.
“County Parks is committed to providing recreational programs that are going to get people outdoors, and this is a very physically challenging and rewarding recreational experience. St. Louis County Parks has already provided a variety of recreational programming and this just further goes along that line. Go Ape! will do that for the citizens of this county.”