Elizabethtown’s Green­belt network of trails is the basis for the community’s distinction as Kentucky’s first Urban Trail Town.

It’s an overnight success story 45 years in the making.

A handful of caring people interested in ensuring nature was not overwhelmed by a growing retail and industrial community came together in the 1970s to establish Greenspace. Their investment of labor, money, time and environmental concern created a network of walking, jogging and biking trails.

Some wrap around the very public recreational areas of Freeman Lake Park, pass through the ever-changing seasonal beauty at The Arboretum at Pritchard Community Center or the more isolated corners of Buffalo Lake. Others sit right in the heart of the life passing near the Justice Center and preserving a touch of nature on the edge of a retail center such as Helmwood Plaza.

Greenspace’s environmental and recreational contribution to the community were highlighted during a recent public celebration of the Urban Trail Town designation.

Kentucky’s Department of Tourism has been trying to build more attention for outdoor and adventure tourism. Trail Town designations were created as a way for towns with few attractions to bring in visitors who enjoy hiking, biking and the lovely scenery.

A local trail town advisory board was organized to get Elizabethtown on the list. The local advocates and state tourism officials saw more potential here. Instead of just adding E’town to its roster, a new classification was created.

The state thinks the variety and scope of trails here will inspire others.

It hopes the Greenbelt system here challenges similar communities — and even larger ones — to clamor for their own Urban Trail Town designation. Basically, state tourism officials are holding up Elizabethtown and Greenspace as role models.

The Urban Trail Town designation will be another means to attract visitors and overnight guests to the area and the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau, which hosted last week’s celebratory event, also will be promoting the work.

Being named an Urban Trail Town is a big step for Elizabethtown and a tribute to the vision and work of Greenspace’s local pioneers.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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