Headwater Highlights, July, 2015

Can't Talk. 2 Busy Hydrating!

IT'S HOT! Watch the weeds grow.

Every Monday this long hot summer volunteers bring fun and a keen eye to conditions along the hot Meadow Loop Trail south of Lindbergh Drive. 

Today the Johnson grass was out of control. We tugged out the high blades between the shorter milkweed and were rewarded with a few butterflies. Hot, wet and glorious work. I'd tell you more but I'm hydrating!  -- Sally Sears

Meanwhile Facebook friend Michael Williams reminds us the Monarch Butterflies will be thick on their migration route over Atlanta very soon. Our milkweed should be ready.

Monarch Butterflies require milkweed for laying eggs. Photo by NatGeo. 

Monarch Butterflies require milkweed for laying eggs. Photo by NatGeo. 

Late summer (late Aug/mid Sept) monarch butterflies migrate from USA down to Mexico...passing right over Atlanta. This spot should be very active with them during that time. - Michael Williams

South Fork & Partners Win Prestigious Grant 

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced July 22 that 64 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects across the nation have been awarded more than $2.3 million in grants. In addition, the grantees have committed an additional $4.8 million in local project support, creating a total investment of more than $7 million in projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters and will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in community-based environmental stewardship projects.

South Fork Board Chairman Bob Kerr acknowledged the importance of the two-year $28,900 grant and thanked the Five Star leaders funding the work. 

"We appreciate every supporter helping this critical work. The Southern Company, EPA, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service,  FedEx, Alcoa Foundation, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company."

The South Fork Conservancy will partner with Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta Audubon Society, Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Georgia Aquarium, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to promote community education and recreational enjoyment of the urban watershed. The partnership will bring scientists and trained volunteers together to establish protocols for monitoring and recording population data on birds, fish, frogs and invertebrates at the Confluence. The data will be shared through newsletters, field trips, and school and youth group activities, increasing awareness and support for conservation and improved biodiversity along the creek.

The Grit of Young Professionals

Four of a dozen volunteers organized a Young Leadership Council to help guide work along the South Fork and the Olmsted Linear Park. 

Nathan Shannon and Ian Karra share a hike with  Druid Hills High School alumns Allie Brown and Katie Bleau. Join them with regular hikes & events. See calendar here

So, What's in YOUR pocket?

I'm washing my jeans after a day working with volunteers along the South Fork Trails.
And when I clean out the lint trap, ouch! Something sticks into my finger.

Sucking out the thorn, I examine a truly astonishing variety of stuff fluffed into the dryer lint. Flower seed heads, slivers of vine bark and a crunchy plastic wrapper from a strawberry cigarillo.

I remembered putting the cigar wrapper in my pocket when we overflowed our trash sacks picking up litter along the trail. For new volunteers, it's an eye opener, seeing the traces of the people who are learning to love the trail

Today, nine months after the Cheshire Farm trail opened, the litter is mostly beer cans, some fast food wrappers, and light weight paper blown down from the Georgia 400 ramp high over head.
The leaf litter is something else. Every Monday morning since June began, we are clearing the meadow downstream of Lindbergh.

Every day makes the opening more inviting.

On the first Monday, the neighbors in Lindridge Martin Manor came to weed the weed garden. (Love that idea.Weed the Weeds.) Together they won a fat grant from Atlanta's Love Your Block program, and spent it on critical milkweed, the host plant required to entice monarch butterflies to return. Now we get to keep the kudzu and honeysuckle from eating the new milkweed plants. 
On the second Monday, Whole Foods Briarcliff led by manager Marisol Maldonado poured and Mark Lawrence raked mulch to define the walking trails around the oval.
The third Monday Georgia Conservancy brought Johanna McCrehan and Monica Thornton plus a half dozen other people to yank vines. 

Two blue herons flew above us as we worked.

Johanna McCreahan & Leah Barnett make Ga. Conservancy greener.

Johanna McCreahan & Leah Barnett make Ga. Conservancy greener.

The fourth Monday belonged to Boy Scout Kai Mehra, his mom Lisa Ohno and neighborhood president Carey Sherrell. Barb Tucker led the vine pulling from trees bowed over with the weight of seasons of invasive vine growth.
Every week I worry we will need to borrow the watering pump and hose offered by Park Pride. Every week I wonder where we'll get the extra volunteer in case we need it to get the hose to the creek, the gas in the pump, and the heavy lifting to move it around to our baby plantings. 
On Saturday or Sunday, when it rains, I breathe relief. We will need to water one day. But not this Monday. 
July is seething hot. August is always a challenge. But then there's September, and the gorgeous October in Atlanta is in view. 
We are building a nest of committed volunteers caring for the creek and the trail. Maybe not so much the strawberry cigarillos.

--- Sally Sears

Who is Home at the Confluence?

Tamara Johnson is finding all kinds of surprising wildlife in the creek. She's an Atlanta born scientist with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Monthly, she and science students including Gabby Griffin are researching which species and how many are able to thrive in the urban waters.

Long-neglected urban waterways like the South and North Forks of Peachtree Creek are often assumed to be lifeless. But new interest by biologists looking at restoring city creeks means Tamara's work has important potential. Sampling and documenting what wildlife is already here will offer a base line of populations to against which progress in restoring more life can be measured.

This white tuberculed crayfish seems happy and healthy.

This white tuberculed crayfish seems happy and healthy.

What's Next?

Thanks for generous volunteers supporting the South Fork trails this summer.  We are planning regular workdays every Monday , 9 a.m. to N oon,  now through the growing season in October.

It's exciting to see so many people helping crate a new urban meadow for pollinating birds and bees along the creek at Lindbergh.  

The jobs include mulching, trimming tree branches, pulling vines, installing signs and other light-and medium-weight tasks. 

Neighbors in the Lindridge Martin Manor Association agreed to volunteer on the first Monday of every month.

Whole Foods Briarcliff is already engaged for the second Mondays.

The Georgia Conservancy volunteers will be up to their elbows on the third Mondays.

The Fourth Mondays and the two fifth Mondays will see other neighborhoods and organizations working hard to keep the trails attractive, walkable and sustained.  

See the pics on our South Fork Facebook page. Join us and let us put your picture there, too!

Posted on July 29, 2015 .