The following organizations have been awarded Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian and coastal conservation initiatives:
Stream Bank Restoration at Turkey Creek Preserve
Recipient: Freshwater Land Trust
To remove a small poured concrete dam within a 226-acre preserve on Turkey Creek and restore and stabilize the streambanks. The creek in Pinson, Ala., is home to the endangered vermilion darter, which faces a major threat from impoundments that limit its habitat. After the dam is removed, one-quarter acre will be revegetated with 500 native trees, shrubs and grass plugs to stabilize the streambanks and provide important riparian and forestsed habitat. Additional partners include Birmingham-Southern College, the Turkey Creek Advisory Board, Father Nature Landscapes, the Turkey Creek Environmental Education Center and the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center.
Dog River Watershed Habitat Restoration & Education
Recipient: Dog River Watershed Clear Water Revival
To remove debris affecting the water quality and native habitats in the Dog River Watershed. About 12,000 native plants will be planted to increase riparian buffers, ultimately restoring two acres of emergent fresh and saltwater wetlands. In addition, the project will remove about 5,000 pounds of trash and transplant aquatic vegetation to revitalize red-bellied turtle and West Indian manatee habitats. Additional partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mobile Bay Estuary Program, Dr. Miriam Fearn, Boys Scouts of America, Murphy High School, Alabama Water Watch, Alabama River Alliance, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama Muddy Waters and Mobile Baykeepers.
Bayou Texar Oyster Reef and Marsh Grass Restoration
Recipient: Pensacola Escambia Clean Community Commission Inc.
To use 84 tons of oyster shells collected from local restaurants to restore oyster reef and intertidal marsh habitat along 1,200 feet of Bayou Texar in the Florida Pensacola Bay System. Marsh grasses will be planted and 79 reefs will be built with the recycled shells. The project will help to increase oyster populations, provide nursery and foraging grounds for finfish, shellfish and wading birds, and aid in filtration of stormwater runoff into the bayou. In addition, recycling the shell will reduce the amount going into the local waste stream. Additional partners include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Restoration Program, Bayou Texar Shoreline Property Owners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, University of West Florida/Community Volunteers, Bayou Texar Foundation, the Marina Oyster Bar, Peg Leg Pete's and the Grand Marlin.
Water Conservation and Native Habitat Restoration in Atlanta
Recipient: Atlanta BeltLine Inc.
To implement a drainage and stormwater retention plan at a formerly contaminated industrial site located along the Atlanta BeltLine. This is part of a multi-phase project to turn a once-blighted property into an urban organic farm and sustainable habitat for native flora and fauna. At least four acres will be cleaned and treated to support rainwater storage and recycling, soil stabilization and healthy plant growth. Invasive species will be replaced with native plants - including berries (such as blueberries), grasses, shrubs and trees -- to support local birds. Citizens will have opportunities to learn organic land care best practices.
Peachtree Creek Confluence Restoration
Recipient: The South Fork Conservancy
To reclaim 31 miles of urban creeks by restoring, conserving and protecting the watershed and building low-impact trails. This is a continuation of a successful urban riparian recovery program begun by the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This project will fence off highway trash, control non-native invasives, restore three bioswales to catch highway stormwater and re-establish a biodiverse buffer along the creek, making the area more accessible and protecting water quality. Additional partners include Garden Hills Elementary School, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Trees Atlanta, Park Pride, Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, Perkins+Will, the City of Atlanta and CH2M HILL.
Dunwoody Nature Center Meadow Restoration
Recipient: Dunwoody Nature Center
To regrade 1.5 acres of the meadow and develop a linked system of rain gardens for stormwater collection in Dunwoody Park. The topography of the area currently causes stormwater to run down from the parking lot, neighboring baseball fields and subdivisions into Wildcat Creek, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River, causing erosion and pollution in the 11.5-acre drainage basin.The project also includes developing a facility to teach elementary through college-level students about the effects and prevention of erosion. Additional partners include the City of Dunwoody, Doosan Infracore, Lowe Engineering, Dunwoody High School, Design Seven, Hands on Atlanta, the Rotary Club, the City of Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, Boy Scout Troop 494, the Dunwoody Women's Club and DeKalb County Master Gardeners.
Alcovy River Greenway Restoration and Education
Recipient: Georgia Wildlife Federation Inc.
To remove exotic invasive species and plant 200 native species on approximately one mile of the riparian zone of Cornish Creek. Two rain gardens will be constructed to be both functional and educational examples of runoff control. In addition, a registry of landowners along the Alcovy River in Newton County will be updated. Designed to help connect, educate and assist landowners in making private conservation impacts, the registry will include current conservation commitments, land management options and available incentives. The project will seek to add at least 20 acres for conservation. Additional partners include Boy Scout Troop 222, The Conservation Fund, Newton County, Eco South, Oxford College of Emory University, Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Walnut Creek Invasive Plant Control & Native Reintroduction
Recipient: Elachee Nature Science Center
To control 27 acres of microstegium, an invasive annual grass, in the floodplains of the upper Walnut Creek Watershed. The project will monitor and map occurrences of microstegium, control infestation in riparian forests and plant 480 native seedlings over 516 square feet of test plots.The project also will include educational initiatives to help citizens control exotic invasive plants on their properties. Additional partners include Gainesville State College, Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, Hall County Environmental Management Systems and Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Invasives Eradication on Wet Pine Savanna Habitat
Recipient: Southeastern Wildlife Conservation Group
To remove invasive and unwanted species from 80 acres of savanna. Less than 5 percent of the original acreage of wet pine savanna habitat remain in the Atlantic/Gulf Coastal Plain, making it one of the most endangered habitats in the country. The project also will provide educational experiences for visitors to the Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center, the headquarters for the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Additional partners include the Mississippi State University Master Naturalist Program, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources/Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grand Bay and Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Heritage Trails Partnership, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, AmeriCorps and K-12 students and teachers from area schools.
Restoration of Henderson Point Greenway/Blueway
Recipient: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain
To restore at least 5.9 acres of coastal wetland and upland forest to a pristine natural environment and improve accessibility in the Henderson Point area for low-impact recreation, where native vegetation was destroyed and invasives prevailed following Hurricane Katrina. The project will employ 77 volunteers to remove debris and invasive species, plant 250 native trees, construct a quarter-mile trail and install benches and a bicycle rack. Students will monitor the land for one year after the work is complete. Additional partners include the United Way of South Mississippi Day of Caring, Keesler Air Force Base, Habitat Stewards, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, United Way Alternative Spring Break, Boy Scout Troop 316, Pass Christian High School and Harrison County Master Naturalists/Master Gardeners.
Bayou Auguste Restoration
Recipient: Mississippi State University
To enhance nearly one-half acre of tidal marsh habitat along Bayou Auguste in the Hope VI neighborhood of East Biloxi, Miss. Residents and public agencies have identified restoring bayous as important for ecological, economic, social and environmental health. An existing partnership will undertake restoration and outreach work with the following goals: improve habitat and water quality; enhance visual appeal; and increase citizen stewardship through education and outreach activities. Additional partners include the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the City of Biloxi, the Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public School District, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and Moore Community House.