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Ozark Greenways, Recent Recipient of Environmental Award, Turns 25 This Year

Scott Harvey

At 25 years and counting, the trails of Ozark Greenways in and around Springfield have and will continue to grow.

That’s according to executive director Terry Whaley, whose organization was one of 12 to receive a Choose Environmental Excellence Award Friday.

“We’re really appreciative of the award, it’s really nice to be recognized for work that’s been done, but as much as we’ve done, we’ve got a lot left to do.”

Ozark Greenways was created in 1991, and is made up of a group of citizens who wanted to build more walkways around Springfield. Whaley says that “over the last 25 years, Ozark Greenways has built some 68 miles of linear parks, greenways, and trails in the Springfield area.”

The organization has continued development along the Frisco Highland trail, which is the second longest rail trail in the state of Missouri. In the future, it has plans for a major trail connection in the community, and improvements to existing trails.

Ozark Greenways also has a focus on helping the environment. Whaley says “The idea that a person can get around Springfield without the use of a car is probably the greatest environmental impact that we could have.”

He adds that “We have trails that people can use for community purposes” which includes getting to work, school, or back home, and by using these trails people don’t have to use their cars, which in turn improves air quality.

According to Whaley, there are more people doing that and across the country the rate of people owning a car between the ages of 16-22 is decreasing. This indicates that “they’re looking for alternative ways to travel.”

Not only that, Whaley says the trails increase the health and fitness of citizen who use them.

Presented by the Springfield-Greene County Environmental Services Department, a total of 21 Choose Environmental Excellence awards were presented in total to 12 organizations Friday.

Other recipients include Springfield City Utilities, the Ozarks Clean Air Alliance, the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. See a full list of recipients and why they were chosen here.