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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— When it comes to hiking, sailing, fishing, bird watching, zip lining and even lifting weights on a Fitness Trail, Eagle Creek Park is one of Indianapolis’ top destinations to embrace nature.

With a wide range of sites, activities and programs, the park’s nonprofit, the Eagle Creek Park Foundation, is looking for outdoor enthusiasts to join its membership to help preserve, protect and enhance one of the nation’s largest city-owned parks.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a significant decline in membership and revenue due to the economic downturn,” says Michael Davis, Eagle Creek Park Foundation president. “Most people don’t understand that the park receives very limited funding from the government, and that’s why we rely on our members as the primary force to help shape the future of the park.”

A minimum donation of $85 (for both Marion and non-Marion county residents) includes annual membership to the Foundation and one gate pass, which waives the $5 daily entrance fee to Eagle Creek Park, and provides unlimited visits to the park for a calendar year. Foundation gate pass holders can enter the park via motorized vehicles, hiking or biking, and can bring up to five guests.

“Frequent park users save a lot of money with Foundation gate passes, even if they come to the park as little as two times a month throughout the year,” Davis said. “It’s also great for schools or clubs who want to utilize the park for exercises outside.”

Twenty dollars from every Foundation gate pass also benefits environmental initiatives solely within Eagle Creek Park. Whereas, proceeds from gate passes purchased outside of the Foundation support a general city park fund.

For every additional $50 donation, members can purchase an extra gate pass on, or at the park office, 7840 W. 56th St.

Davis says membership into the Foundation alone is just a $35 minimum donation per calendar year, which is a great option for people who want to contribute to a great cause, but don’t live close to the park or have the opportunity to visit regularly.

The tax-deductible membership includes a subscription to Foundation newsletters, invitations to special events, and can take advantage of exclusive discounts at the park’s Marina, Go Ape’s Treetop Adventure, Earth Discovery Center gift shop, as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Robert’s Camera.

In 2013, with generous contributions from Foundation supporters, the nonprofit was able to fund: updates to directional signage throughout the park, the new Earth Discovery Center gift shop, and a four-day raptor continuing education program for ornithologists at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.

In the past decade, the Foundation has put more than $2.4 million back into Eagle Creek Park between the building of the Earth Discovery Center and Ornithology Center, as well as art programs, concerts, trail maintenance, Marina improvements and much more.

To make a donation, become a member or purchase a 2014 Foundation gate pass, call 327.7116, or log on, and click “Give/Join.” Donations also accepted at the park office located at 7840 W. 56th St. Foundation gate passes are not sold at the park entrance gates.

© 2015 Eagle Creek Park Foundation