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James City County Parks & Recreation’s Freedom Park Multiuse Trail has received the Governor’s Environmental Excellence gold medal award for implementation of the 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan.This is the second time an award has been presented to a locality meeting the goals and objects of the Plan. This category is important to Environment Virginia because without personal outdoor experiences and opportunities for environmental education, many accomplished professionals, the public, and our elected officials would not prioritize environmental protection.Planning for the 1.2 mile, paved trail located in the County’s most historically significant park, began with public input meetings and citizen focus groups. The trail provides surrounding neighborhoods and schools opportunities for exercising and connecting with nature. When designed to follow the existing logging road, time and money was saved along with valuable natural habitats. The trail was designed at a slight grade to reduce runoff and control erosion. In addition, stormwater reduction strategies were incorporated into the design. The trail was surveyed for threatened plants and wildlife, and was realigned 700 feet to avoid a threatened plant. Additionally, use of a bike wash station fed with rainwater is encouraged to prevent the spread of invasive species. Parks & Recreation offers educational classes and walks to teach citizens about the ecologically sensitive areas of the park and trail, enhancing the community’s value of environmental stewardship. Mostly, Freedom Park offers opportunities for walking and biking, two of the state’s highest outdoor recreation needs. The award was presented at Environment Virginia, an annual conference held at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington in April.Participating in the award ceremony, left to right: Clyde Cristman, Department of Conservation & Recreation; Molly Joseph Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources; Alister Perkinson, Freedom Park Operations Coordinator; Barry Moses, County General Services Capital Projects Coordinator; and David Paylor, Department of Environmental Quality. For more information, visit the Department of Environmental Quality website.