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Fresno parkway expansion creates gem

The San Joaquin River Parkway provides a relaxing setting for community members to spend time with family or friends. Hawks circle above in the sky, while cyclists and joggers gaze at the beauty of the surrounding countryside.

This hidden gem of Fresno draws hundreds of people to journey on the paved trail.

The approximately five-mile Lewis S. Eaton Trail begins at the corner of Woodward Park at Friant Road and Audubn Drive and continues on the river bluff towards Friant Dam to Cooper Road.

Bill Cowin, ?08, and sister Jackie, ?10, visit the trail numerous times on outings with their family.

?I have been on the trail countless times since it was built,? Cowin said. ?It is a great bonding experience for my family.?

Lewis S. Eaton, whom the trail is named after, became the founding director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.

He was an influential leader who established Woodward Park and also helped to preserve the San Joaquin River from development.

Sarah Cairns works as the Communications Associate of the River Parkway Trust.

?We were formed in 1988,? Cairns said. ?We are the land trust and we work with other organizations to help restore the river.?

The River Parkway Trust partners with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP). They desire to restore the salmon runs and also to maintain a more even flow of water in the river.

A side dirt trail makes a loop connecting the San Joaquin River to Woodward Park. Hikers can view the river with a backdrop of the setting sun and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Sydney Carlson, ?11, enjoys riding on the bike trail and walking down to the river?s edge.

?It was a nice view and it was really relaxing,? Carlson said. ?It would be a nice place to have a picnic. It was interesting to see all the different types of birds flying around.?

Many different types of wildlife live at the river, including egrets, hawks and small rodents.

The river center on the trail provides education on for travelers on in the trail. In an old Victorian house, the river center contains rooms with history on the river and wildlife along with informational videos.

Canoe adventures, nature walks and fishing areas are available to the public to experience the river.

The river center is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 11 A.M. ? 3 P.M.

?It is something to do,? Carlson said, ?that way you are not sitting around at home being bored. It is a good way to use up energy.?

Cairns encourages community members to experience the beauty of the San Joaquin River.

?It is a paved trial available to hikers, cyclists, and those with disabilities,? Cairns said. ?The community is growing, and the greenbelt we are creating will benefit the quality of life.?

Other parks along the river include Lost Lake Park and Sycamore Island Ranch.

Future plans for the trail include extending it from Friant Dam to Highway 99, a total of 22 miles along the river. Currently the parkway includes 3,600 acres.

Students interested in participating in a nature walk or other activities along the San Joaquin River contact Sarah Cairns at 248-8480 X 107.

For those who cannot get the the parkway, spring in the San Joaquin Valley also is a good time to travel along the Blossom Trail.

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