In 2009, Louisville Park and Recreation undertook the public process of updating the planning documents guiding improvement and development of Jefferson Memorial Forest. This new master plan benefitted from successful implementation of many recommendations from the previous planning process, the 1995 Jefferson Memorial Forest Resource Management Plan. These included the successful acquisition of certain key parcels such that the 2009 planning process could realistically envision the Forest as a connected whole.
The timing of this planning process coincided with early planning for the Louisville Loop, and thus, the JMF Master Plan envisions how the Louisville Loop pass through the Forest and allow residents from Fairdale to Valley Station to west and east Louisville to better access this, Louisville’s community forest. Other key recommendations include gateway entrances at both the eastern and western ends, complementary investments in the Forest various public use area, and concentrating any new park development in areas closest to existing neighborhoods and infrastructure while preserving the interior of the Forest for passive recreation and nature itself. Of course, the plan recognized the critical need for continued land acquisition to advance the important goals of preserving habitat and further enhancing the Forest ecological and environmental benefits.
Currently, the focus on physical improvements at the Forest involve enhancements to its main recreation area, the Tom Wallace Recreation Area. In honor of former Jefferson County Judge and Louisville Mayor, David L. Armstrong, phased planning has been developed for upgrades to this beloved recreation area that has not seen significant investments since the mid-1980s. Construction documentation has been prepared for the first phase of these improvements involving path, parking and lake area improvements. Funding for this shovel-ready $2.25 million project is only partially secured.
In terms of the status of other JMF Master Plan recommendations, the first phase of recommended enhancements to the Scott’s Gap Section of the Forest were completed in 2020. Construction documentation has been prepared for trailhead improvements in Paul Yost Recreation Area (see resources at right). In addition, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has committed to significant stream restoration activities along Wolf Run and its tributaries that will support future enhancements to the Forest’s planned new environmental education area. Finally, planning for the Louisville Loop passage through the western end of of the Forest continues to advance form conceptual planning to design final design phase.