Scott Martin September

From right to left, Scott Martin, executive director of River Heritage Conservancy, met Friday morning with Mexican parks leaders German Enriquez and Luis Romahn and with Kent Lanum, president and CEO of the Ogle Foundation. The team is working on conservation efforts to help support the wildlife that travels between their parks.

CLARKSVILLE — It was a Warbler that caught the attention of the men gathered Friday morning at the George Rogers Clark home site in Clarksville, as they marveled at the way nature connects us all.

Scott Martin, the man behind the 600-acre Origin Park project in Southern Indiana, was visiting the site with guests German Enriquez, who oversees the parks system in San Pedro, Mexico and Luis Romahn, president of the National Association of Parks and Recreation of Mexico. The three met in 2018 as members of World Urban Parks, and “what the three of us have been intrigued about for years is how much we have in common,” Martin said.

Now, they are teaming up to see how they can support one another and the wildlife that travel the continent between their urban parks. For instance, the bird they saw move through the tree overhead “is probably going to be in Luis’s town in probably a week or two,” Martin said. “That little bird lives if he and I do our job right.”

At Origin Park, Martin said this will include things like planting many different kinds of trees that draw bugs to sustain birds on their migratory path, rather than only the red maples and spruce so often seen in parks. He said that in checking the local pattern, it’s estimated that 16 million to 18 million birds have flown over Louisville since Thursday en route to warmer climates. The team will also help foster education among their staff and communities.

“Don’t think of conservation necessarily as Yellowstone and Big Ben,” Martin said. “It’s very easy to do that. The game-changers are these spaces.”

He envisions having signage around that helps tell the story of the migrating wildlife, and by talking with his friends down South, he can predict when birds will arrive in this area. A local student could see the sign and get intrigued about learning more about other areas, like San Pedro.

“We’re all part of the bigger picture,” Enriquez said. “Somehow all the boundaries and the frontiers are manmade. Nature is the best way to remind us that this is bigger than us and we should take care of it in a good way.”

He said the partnership is to build networks and to learn best practices from one another as they “think bigger [and] be more responsible,” he said. “Because those are not your birds. There are no American or Mexican [birds.] There are birds.”

The Mexican parks leaders said they have been impressed with plans for Origin Park — sustainable recreation unique to this area, the history involved with the Northwest Expansion and the indigenous inhabitants. Romahn also noted that it’s an equity issue, as the park will be accessible to people from multiple neighborhoods.

“It’s going to serve a lot of the neighborhoods who maybe [don’t] have any chance to have this kind of facility,” he said.

“I am really intrigued that there is a lot of history under this,” Enriquez said. “I think this is one of the best parks I have seen in recent years.”

As part of their visit, the group also planned to tour other area parks, including the Falls of the Ohio and Waterfront Park in Louisville.

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