Gary Kirk lives by a simple creed: “If I see something that needs to be done, I want to get it done. I want to do it. I want to fix it. I want to make it better.”
Kirk applies that motto to trails all over Newark and the surrounding area. He can often be found cleaning up fallen trees, building a new bridge or rerouting trails that get washed out or otherwise damaged.
The Christine Manor resident has long enjoyed local trails as a hiker, but he got involved in trail projects after retiring from the trucking industry in 2012.
His first project was working on the Tri-State Marker Trail, which leads to the Mason and Dixon stone located where Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania meet. He credits the late Wendel Cassel, who spearheaded that effort, with inspiring him to get involved.
“Anything that deals with history and the trails, I really enjoy that, so it's something I fully embraced,” he said. “And that got me going.”
A member of the Wilmington Trails Club, he routinely helps with trail maintenance in White Clay Creek State Park and its Pennsylvania counterpart, White Clay Creek Preserve.
Along with others, he also maintains Newark’s portion of the Mason-Dixon Trail, which runs from Rittenhouse Park to Church Road.
“The first year we took it over, we built at least one bridge and rerouted a big section of trail away from the creek because it was getting washed out. That's constantly a problem we've got to watch out for.”
Most recently, he replaced a bridge behind Christina Mill Apartments that was knocked off its moorings during Hurricane Ida earlier this year.