Early Christmas for Stringer’s Ridge

North Chattanooga resident Jim Johnson has made a $50,000 gift to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), formally initiating phase two of the Stringer’s Ridge park project, construction of a nearly 10-mile trail system. In just two short years, Mr. Johnson’s donations to TPL went from an initial gift of $50 in 2008 to his recent gift of $50,000 in 2010-11. Mr. Johnson is an avid cyclist and president of BikeToursDirect.com, which offers overseas bicycle tours. He moved to Chattanooga from New England 14 years ago and says he was “touched by the warmth and kindness” he found here. Concerning his latest donation to TPL, Mr. Johnson said he was simply following his heart when he decided to “give back to the community I love by investing in Stringer’s Ridge, and The Trust for Public Land was the way to do that. I hoped my gift would help TPL get the trail-building process off the ground.” And it has.

As the former president of the Chattanooga Bicycle Club, Mr. Johnson was familiar with the first phase of the Stringer’s Ridge project spearheaded by The Trust for Public Land -protecting 92 acres of undeveloped land for a park. Mr. Johnson spearheaded the club’s donation of $10,000 to support the Stringer’s Ridge acquisition; the Club pledged $5,000 directly and made a $5,000 challenge grant that raised an additional $5,500 through individual members’ gifts. Two years later, in the fall of 2010, he heard that TPL was interested in building new trails on the Stringer’s Ridge.

“Jim’s gifts to The Trust for Public Land are a shining example of how an individual can step forward, and through a singular act of leadership, make a lasting impact on his community,” said Rick Wood, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Tennessee office. “His generosity will enrich the lives of children and adults for generations to come as they enjoy the experience of the great outdoors on Stringer’s Ridge.”

Staff from The Trust for Public Land took the story of Johnson’s passion and generosity to local foundations. They were able to multiply his gift five-fold by leveraging support from the foundations for the Stringer’s Ridge Trail Planning and Construction project. “I wanted my gift to move dirt to create the trails, and I hoped others would support the effort to help cover the planning and design,” says Johnson. Other individuals and groups have also contributed to the trail project.

“Jim is a great guy and this was a very special gift from him to TPL. We appreciate his vision for-and dedication to-Stringer’s Ridge,” said Wood. “Christmas has indeed come early in Chattanooga,” he added.