by Sam Loth, Fund Drive Committee Member

Now that the March sunshine is strong enough to melt whatever the waning winter cares to toss at us and the Flower Show is stimulating thoughts of wildflowers and chirping birds, it is the time we think of our Friends of the Wissahickon.

There are trails to clean up, stream beds needing some TLC, projects to start and others to resume. Over the past 91 years – since 1924 – the FOW has organized thousands of northwest Philadelphia volunteers and professionals who have worked diligently to retain the high quality of life we all enjoy in the Wissahickon Valley and here in our community.

All 1,600 or so FOW members are dedicated to the mission of “preserving the natural beauty and wildness of the Wissahickon Valley.” All 1,800 acres and 57 miles of trails in the Wissahickon Park are owned by the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, which works in partnership with the FOW to renew historic structures, eliminate invasive species, monitor watershed issues, rehabilitate trails and additionally oversee park activities including biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, jogging and more. The FOW receives no funding to operate from the Parks Department and remains an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The Chestnut Hill Community Fund has in past years, provided grant funding to the FOW to help support several initiatives including the Safety, Outreach and Community Engagement program, which seeks to provide the public with a safe, informative and fulfilling experience when visiting the park.

In 2014 the FOW embarked upon the final planning stages of the Upper Trails Wayfinding and Signage System, which will create a standardized graphic and illustrative signage system to direct, instruct and educate visitors along the trails and at gathering places like the Northwestern Stables and the Valley Green Inn. The FOW expects to begin construction and installation in 2015.

To learn more about the FOW, visit its website or contact FOW at 215-247-0417. FOW is headquartered along with the Chestnut Hill Historical Society at 8708 Germantown Ave. across from the library.

To help the Chestnut Hill Community Fund continue to support the FOW and over 30+ deserving nonprofits in Northwest Philadelphia, make a donation today to CHCF at 8434 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118, go online and donate at, or contact Noreen at 215-248-8810. The CHCF thanks you in advance for your support.