Atlanta (May 2016) – The Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Cynthia Martinez, and other top U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials visited Cheshire Farm Trail in Buckhead on May 13. They reviewed the successes of the South Fork Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership and discussed future goals. There are only 17 such partnerships in the entire country; they are designed to boost opportunities for city residents to connect with nature and restore local environments.
Chief Martinez explained that preserving urban greenspace for wildlife is a key priority. "We’re working closely with neighbors and other partners, and today is an excellent on-the-ground example of exactly what that vision was,” Martinez said. “Thank you for what you’re doing. It's not only the community that’s going to benefit, but our nation as a whole."
South Fork board members and partners showed the extensive progress made in removing invasive species, engaging volunteers, planting native shrubs and trees, and creating access to the trails. They also demonstrated the “Animal Olympics” activity, which features signs in English and Spanish teaching children about animals and encouraging them to emulate their poses.
“Atlanta’s a fabulous town but one thing we can work on is more greenspace –particularly for the people in the cities who live a little more closely than people in the suburbs,” said South Fork board member and Founding Director Sally Sears. “We’ll build more public investment in connecting all these pieces and building a marvelous refuge for us, when we need sanctuary (and) for the animals, when they want to return to the urban setting where they used to thrive.”
South Fork’s partnership includes a USFWS Five Star grant for a project called “Who’s Home on the Confluence?” The project involves collecting and analyzing data on plant and animal populations and water quality at Peachtree Creek. It also includes building creek access and engaging underserved communities in monitoring and sustaining current restoration and green infrastructure efforts.
Regional USFWS representatives also attended, as well as many nonprofit friends and partners of South Fork. These included Greening Youth Foundation, Atlanta Audubon Society, Trees Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Latin American Association.
About South Fork Conservancy
South Fork Conservancy is actively developing walking trails along Atlanta’s Peachtree Creek. Designated as an Urban Wildlife Refuge by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the nonprofit organization is named for the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, where many of the trails are located. Its goal is to conserve the urban waterway, connect existing and future trails, and restore the area’s natural beauty. The trail system will eventually connect Buckhead, Atlanta’s upscale business and residential center, with the Emory University campus and beyond. Active trails include The Confluence, Cheshire Farm and Meadow Loop trails in Buckhead, and Zonolite Park in DeKalb County. For more information, visit www.SouthForkConservancy.org.