Scoop – Clarks Run

Published 5:06 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2021

BY SUSAN JONAS

Garden Club of Danville

On a wet morning in early September, members of the Garden Club of Danville donned raincoats and umbrellas to join Preston Miles for a tour of the nature trail along Clark’s Run near downtown Danville.

The Garden Club has been supporting the Clark’s Run Trail through financial grants and volunteer help for several years.

The group first gathered to inspect the trailhead rain garden near the Village Apartments on Stanford Road and McClure Drive.

The trailhead project included a new parking area. The rain garden there was designed to capture, absorb, and filter storm water runoff from the paved area, allowing the water to slowly soak into the soil around a selection of native plants.

This garden was planted in 2019 with a grant from the Garden Club. Plants for the garden were chosen by the club’s Linda Porter and Alexis Sheffield, Boyle County Extension Agent for Horticulture. Club members also volunteered to help with plant installation and mulching.

As light rain began falling, the group moved to Michael E. Smith Park off Second Street for a quick walk to see the streamside restoration project currently underway there, supported by grants from the Garden Club of Danville, Bluegrass Greensource and others.

Volunteers have cleared invasive shrubs and vines along the creek in this area and prepared the ground for new native plants to be installed this fall.

Miles explained that plants naturally grow in succession along waterways, stabilizing the bank and protecting the water. Large trees grow closest to the creek, understory trees next, then flowers and grasses. The water should be shaded, with patches of sun, to avoid overheating.

To duplicate this pattern, native plants were again selected by Alexis Sheffield and Linda Porter.

Miles is chairperson of CREEC, Clark’s Run Environmental and Educational Corporation. The organization was formed in 2005 to preserve and protect the Clarks Run watershed by improving water quality and educating the public.

Those objectives line up nicely with goals of Garden Clubs at the local, state and national levels, which encourage appreciation, conservation and protection of our natural resources.

Part of that mission is to show the people of Danville and Boyle County what a treasure they have running through the town. People will support and protect what they love. Clark’s Run hasn’t always been very lovable.

The stream originates near Alum Springs and flows approximately 12 miles into the Dix River at Herrington Lake. It serves as a habitat corridor for plants and wildlife as it passes through the city of Danville.

The town’s first residents and businesses settled along this creek in the late 1700s. In the years since then, Clark’s Run has suffered from industrial and agricultural runoff, sewage, trash, and improper bank maintenance. Walking along the creek has not always been a pleasure.

What could potentially be an asset to Danville became an eyesore. Worse, it was a detriment to the health of the plants and creatures that live in or around it and drink its water. That includes residents of Boyle, Mercer, and Garrard Counties whose drinking water supply source is Herrington Lake.

All that is changing now, thanks to efforts led by CREEC and helped by a collaborative army of civic and community organizations and dedicated citizen volunteers.

Thanks to a paved 1.2 mile trail along the creek, walkers are now able to admire the water in many spots, as invasive plants are cleared from the banks and trash is removed.

The winding trail is flat and shaded, making it an easy walk at any speed. It is also becoming a beautiful walk. The restoration of Clark’s Run is still a work in progress, but the people of Danville are learning to love our creek.