GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - As Grafenwoehr begins a new era, post 100-year birthday, plans take shape for a new recreation center. The new Grafenwoehr nature trail at Dickhaeuter Lake officially opened, June 28, during a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. Col. Chris Sorenson addressed a crowd of about 25 onlookers from the local German and American communities.

Brig. Gen. Steven L. Salazar cut the ribbon, marking the trails opening.

"The nature trail used to be over by Hyde Pond," said Sorenson. "This is compensation for some of those areas we had to actually remove."

There were biotope and some woodland areas that required a partial-compensation or replacement, he said.

Under Efficient Basing Grafenwoehr (EBG), a plan to enhance training readiness, improve force protection, and provide new or renovated facilities for Soldiers and families, the Army had to replace the older structures with upgraded or newer structures.

The outdoor recreation area, Grafenwoehr's picnic area, just beyond Gate 9 is getting a face-lift and the new nature trail is just the beginning.

The new 1.5 mile trail, in close vicinity to the location of a planned Outdoor Recreation Center (ODR), provides guests with fresh-air and a scenic view, while also providing 16 information boards that explore environmental topics, such as nature conservation, recycling, soil, butterflies and bees.

"The purpose of this trail is education," said Manfred Wick, chief of the U.S. Army Grafenwoehr's environmental division. The trail will educate school kids, as well as, adults. The location is perfect because it will be close to the ODR, and a lot of people will come to walk the trail.

The concept for the trail was planned by staff at the Environmental Division. The trail was constructed in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and German engineers at the Baudinststelle Grafenwoehr.

"During design and construction, we put emphasis on constructing the nature trail, and making it as environmentally friendly as possible,"said Margit Ranz of the Department of Public Works' Environmental Division. "The trail fits into the surrounding landscape. And, where possible we used existing trails. New parts of the trail are constructed as an "earth trail," with almost no "external materials."

"There is a green classroom, and anyone who wants to use it can. There will also be guided tours available for large groups, but they must be requested and scheduled through the environmental division," she said.

The guided tours of the nature trail will start and finish at the ODR site, said Wolfgang Schultes, ODR director. He also said there will be cabins available, as well as, a snack bar.

Construction for the new recreation center is projected to begin in 2011.

"Construction is scheduled to last approximately 15 Months," said Schultes. "The center will offer a variety of adventure and recreation features on-site at Camp Heritage, to include a high ropes course, an indoor climbing wall and various outdoor games and activities."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16