First Time is a Charm
September 13, 2018
Amy Skalmusky

Principal Safety Engineer, Aaron Wright let curiosity get the best of him.

When a large section of his favorite recreational area had been closed for an extended period, he saw an opportunity in National Public Lands Day (NPLD) to find out what why. "When they (Toyota) asked anyone would be interested in sponsoring a site for NPLD," he said. "I immediately had a place in mind."

That place was the Greenbelt Corridor Park in Denton, Texas. “The site is very personal because my wife and I used to go kayaking there,” said Wright. “I didn’t even know why we couldn’t use the area anymore.” The Ray Roberts Lake/Lake Lewisville Greenbelt Corridor is a 20 mile multi-use trail system (12 miles for equestrian and 10 for hike and bike use) that begins at the Ray Roberts Dam and ends at the headwaters of Lake Lewisville. This unique trail corridor meanders along the heavily wooded banks of the Elm Fork Branch of the Trinity River.

After heavy rains in 2015, the Greenbelt Corridor was closed from the US 380 access point up to 3 miles north. Initially set to last two weeks, the closure has been in effect for over two years. “The area lies in a flood plain,” said Wright. “There was so much impact that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is putting out a bid to redo the parking area at trailheads, plus much of the trails were washed away.”

Aaron Wright of Toyota near Lake Lewisville

Though his first time as an NPLD site manager, Wright is experienced in getting people together to help the environment. He is part of the Toyota Environmental Resources for Responsible Actions (TERRA) group, which allows employees with a passion for the environment to participate in community activities that support sustainability. “We put on different events, like ones demonstrating what to do with hard to recycle items, like batteries,” he said. “Another event had people from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center come out.”

His plans for this year’s NPLD event promise to unite multiple activities. Wright worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife Unit Manager, Mark Stewart, who explained why the area had been closed and suggested many potential volunteer activities. At this site, people can either help with river cleanup using kayaks and canoes to pick up debris and trash or trail clean-up of debris and brush. “I thought river cleanup would attract a lot of people,” said Wright. “It’s a unique, outdoor event.” The park will also have a hosted nature hike especially for children. After the event, the park service is offering free admission to Isle du Bois state park on Ray Roberts Lake.

Wright expects around 100 people at the event, including a local Girl Scout troop.

As September 22 draws closer, Wright’s curiosity is turning to the outcome of his event. “People want to see that things look prettier, but they also want something quantifiable,” he said. “If they know they picked up X pounds of trash, it becomes incentive to come back next year.”