February 2015 Headwater Highlights

Water Walking? 

DeKalb County is readying to build a connection from one side of the South Fork of Peachtree Creek to the other near Clairmont Road.

  Sketch from DeKalb plans.

Sketch from DeKalb plans.

Just don't call the connection a bridge. It will be stepping stones.  This week Facilities Project Manager Bob Sims reported the long-wanted crossing linking neighbors on the Superior Avenue side of the creek to the library and tennis center beyond the old Waterworks on the other side will be sent out for construction bids in March. 

Valerie Boss, leading the effort to add native plants and people to the Ira B. Melton park, broke the good news to the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association meeting Friday Feb. 14.

The group pushed the county for low-impact trails and a creek crossing to link hundreds of neighbors to Mason Mill Park.

The master plan on DeKalb's website  shows how it connects to the dog park and comfort facilities. How will this kind of crossing work?

Stones arranged as DeKalb  plans won't block the normal flow of water, and in flood, the steps will be underwater. 

Plans call for 14 3.5 to 4 foot boulders set in the creek bed, rising 6 inches above average water elevation. Gaps between the stones will be no more than 1.5 to 2 feet. Stairs on either bank will let creek lovers get to the stones without eroding the bank. 

Sims' email confirmed the stream crossing re-design is complete, and permitting approval anticipated within two weeks.


How do connections begin?

by Sally Sears


I gave Marianne Skeen a ride home from trail building in  Zonolite Park to her house on Superior Avenue near North Decatur Road. She stretched her limber fingers and wondered out loud "What would it be like to be able to walk to the library without having to get on Clairmont Road?  We would have to get through the privet thicket and across the creek somehow. But it could be gorgeous."

That conversation was five years ago. Today the adventurous Marianne is back from navigating the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, and reflecting on the success of her wish. 

First she invited Conservancy volunteers to tame some of the privet in Ira B. Melton park. We partnered with the neighborhood associations, led by Valerie Boss and heavy Boy Scout involvement. Dozens of work days pruned the maze of trails to an easy to follow loop. Now a native plant entrance welcomes walkers and dogs, off road bikers and children.  And finally, DeKalb County's creek crossing, on stepping stones,  is promised to be "significantly complete" within the year. What else can Marianne Skeen ask for? We're all ears!  We think a trailhead sign and a high-quality well designed trail head is next on her list.




A Day On for MLK Day

 Sage Hill Kroger's gone and done it again! They provided water, bananas, chips, and granola bars for our MLK volunteer day and fueled SIXTY wonderful volunteers as they restored the Meadow trail. Thanks Manager Bert Bohannan!

Sage Hill Kroger's gone and done it again! They provided water, bananas, chips, and granola bars for our MLK volunteer day and fueled SIXTY wonderful volunteers as they restored the Meadow trail. Thanks Manager Bert Bohannan!

How many volunteers does it take to yank a meadow's worth of invading vines? The MLK Holiday found some 70 people from middle school ages on up tossing vines to return the Meadow Loop to its open habitat. 












Hole in the Ground where a plant used to be

  Emory physics professor Jed Brody tends a sturdy new tree.

Emory physics professor Jed Brody tends a sturdy new tree.

Late on MLK afternoon, somebody snatched three trees from the ground at the North and South Forks Confluence. The news stirred volunteers to action. Trees Atlanta and two dozen helpers replaced the three lost saplings with big, heavy plants, saving the 30 gallon giant beech for the very spot where the trees were lost.







  John Wiley enjoyed the company of a beautifully colored Muscovy Duck for a month, at his home on the South Fork near Clairmont Road. He reports the duck hung out with mallards and a blue heron, dining on wildlife and John's cheerios.

John Wiley enjoyed the company of a beautifully colored Muscovy Duck for a month, at his home on the South Fork near Clairmont Road. He reports the duck hung out with mallards and a blue heron, dining on wildlife and John's cheerios.


South Fork Board Member Ruthie Taylor Norton is a Live-Work-Play fan, working in Atlanta's city office of sustainability, and playing with kayaks in whitewater everywhere in the Southeast. Last Saturday on the Chattooga she took a seven foot drop, hit a hole and broke her ankle.   We're sending fruit and best wishes for a fast recovery.

Posted on March 12, 2015 .

January 2015 Headwater Highlights

Getting Along Swimmingly With FISH

 Dekalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, U.S. Fish and Widlife Deputy Refuge Chief Shaun Sanchez, SFC Board Chairman Bob Kerr, SFC Executive Director Sally Sears, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Sallie Gentry

Dekalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, U.S. Fish and Widlife Deputy Refuge Chief Shaun Sanchez, SFC Board Chairman Bob Kerr, SFC Executive Director Sally Sears, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Sallie Gentry

This time last year, we were dreaming of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife partnership. By the end of 2014, the partnership became reality when Deputy Refuge Chief Shaun Sanchez came together with Sally and Board Chairman Bob Kerr to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). We agreed to work together to engage urban communities in an effort to connect people with nature and protect and conserve the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. The regional Refuge program is underway! First on the list is a new Emory University Environmental Studies intern, Diane Ryu. Welcome to the fold Diane!

A Cleveland Ohio native, Diane studied abroad in Namibia and Botswana, igniting a passion for conservation work. She worked with wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda and focused on environmental degradation.

 Welcome to Diane Ryu, our new intern!

Welcome to Diane Ryu, our new intern!

Diane's work with the South Fork will explore urban wildlife refuges. She'll be directed by colleagues from the US Fish and Wildlife Service plus the Greening Youth Foundation.

We are beyond thrilled by this partnership and can hardly wait to see the fantastic impact it has on restoring the creek and building trails that bring us all a little closer to nature. 

Life In An Urban Watershed
By Christine Van Roosen - volunteer

Christine at the confluence point, next to the South Fork. It was 8-10ft higher than normal due to an extended rain event

I live just up the hill from the north fork of Peachtree Creek. In 2009, I stood on a nearby bridge looking down as the creek rushed past, spreading far outside its banks as trunks and trash came spilling downstream in a seething mass. Little did I know then that just a couple of miles downstream, houses on the creek’s floodplain were almost under water.

As a river and coastal kayaker, I’m fascinated by rivers and their courses, navigability, health, and challenges.  I’ve ranged throughout the Southeast on long kayaking trips in remote and not-so-remote areas. But I never thought about what happens to the creek in my own backyard on its journey to the Chattahoochee.

My eyes were opened on a South Fork Conservancy tour this month, just after a massive rain event. As I watched the normally lazy creek flash by at 1900 cubic feet per second (a Class 2 creek), I began to fully understand how important it is to constantly battle erosion and effectively control storm water overflows via carefully engineered technique. Structures like the “upside-down bridge” on the Confluence Trail mitigate damage in major storms like this one. I was also intrigued by the archaeological sites so close to the river, the carefully planted stands of chestnut trees and indigenous plants, the signs of beavers at work and the birding opportunities that draw avid birders to the area. It was encouraging to meet neighbors and friends of the river out and about in the damp, exploring and telling stories about river-related events. Perhaps most importantly, I was happy to learn more about my “wild” neighborhood.

 Spotting something special on the South Fork. From Left to Right: Ellen Miller, Eric Bowles, Teresa Mayes, Stella Wissner, John Mayes, Sally Sears

Spotting something special on the South Fork. From Left to Right: Ellen Miller, Eric Bowles, Teresa Mayes, Stella Wissner, John Mayes, Sally Sears

Winging It With The Birders

A generous round of silent applause for my friends in the Atlanta Audubon Chapter.  Generous because you shared your affection for our downy, rufous and nutty friends up and down the South Fork. Silent so we don't scare the birds. And Applause for all your tolerance for my wild binocular swings.

My first ever bird count began in a misting sunrise at Zonolite Park January 3, 2015. Four robins waited for me on a wire above the Motorcar Studio next to the Soto Zen Center. Recognizing the first birds made me dangerously confident. By noon we had  39 different species of birds, many of them brown and small. My boots were muddy  and I was chastened by how much I did NOT know.

Favorite birds? Ellen Miller our leader spotted a brown creeper. She jumped up and down. It was a species first for Stella WissnerEric Bowles confirmed it circling a giant tree, like a barbershop pole twisting up the trunk.  Except the tree is brown, the bird is brown and it creeps.Three of our best birders were celebrating.

Teresa Mayes' favorite was the red-shouldered hawk. It flew out of the woods across the new meadow cleaned up from decades of asbestos contamination. American Crows heard the hawk and started protesting with loud caws. The pond held ten green Mallard Ducks, which joined the protest. The hawk sat like the king of all he surveyed and took the ruckus as applause.My favorite were a pair of Great Blue Herons. One flapped upstream toward Herbert Taylor Park. The other looked us over coolly and minced away.

"The most dangerous animal out here," said Eric Bowles, as cool as the heron. No kidding? Fatal?   "People trying to rescue an injured heron get a bill through their skull and die."   A shiver ran through my binoculars.   Yikes! The birds were here first. I'm the newcomer on the creek. Carol Bush liked the Kinglets, ruby and golden crowned. Big name, tiny bird, but lots of energy.

 Bird counting at Zonolite Park

Bird counting at Zonolite Park

Eric Bowles kept a wildlife tally of other species. "We ended the day with 7 deer – 5 at Zonolite and 2 at Cheshire Farm.  We also saw a sleeping raccoon high in a dead tree on the Confluence Trail.   The highlight for me was at the very end of the day on the Cheshire Farm Trail.  Not 25 feet off I-85 at Lindbergh a red shouldered hawk was carrying and feeding on a pigeon – with the Cooper’s hawk that originally caught the pigeon nearby."

Now let me ask all the Atlantans who drive on Lindbergh Drive every week. That's about a hundred thousand motorists.  Do you know what's for supper on the Creek?  Alos, a final question for the Audubon tally: If two hawks are eating a pigeon, does the pigeon count? 

Final tally for the Audubon Bird Count on the South Fork on January third: 43 species, 414 birds.

City Innovation Invites Questions From The Public

Good Idea? Atlanta city hall wants ideas to make money for the city, using park and greenspace real estate as a possible source.Mayor Reed's office wonders if ideas like Citi Bike in New York, sponsored by CitiBank, would work in Atlanta. Maybe internet hotspots sponsored by an internet provider in exchange for a large sign on an internet tower?

Park and greenspace backers and their volunteers are digesting the idea. Some see this as a great way to afford extra amenities for parks and greenspace users. Others are wary of commercializing precious green sanctuaries. What do you think?

The deadline for Information requests is Feb. 4, 2014. You can find the Request for Information form as well as additional info here

Volunteers Lead, We Follow In 2015

 The group down the many priorities into these and then assigned them to various categories

The group down the many priorities into these and then assigned them to various categories

Last night, a remarkable and invested cross section of the South Fork Community gathered to help us figure out what 2015 will look like. Using 2014 as both an example and a lesson, these 14 neighbors, outdoor enthusiasts, and board members put their heads together to determine organizational priorities. They worked through four phases during the session starting with identifying priorities and ending with tasks that accomplish them.

See the picture to the right? The group closest to us, composed of (from left to right) Anita Brown, Tom Tomaka, Chris Nelson, and Diane Ryu, worked so carefully and considerately that they were always the last group to finish an activity. Further down the table you see Sally Sears, Van Hall, and Christine Van Roosen having a lively discussion about the applicability of their ideas. Martha Porter Hall, Margaret Stewart, and Paul Looper sat at the end of the table fairly discussing each and every idea in front of them (see picture below). You won’t be able to see the folks deliberating from the comfy couches in the living room. Rich Sussman, Bob Scott, Barbara Baggerman, and Dave Kaufman’s discussions were full of jokes and laughter and they got the job done in comfort and style.

 Margaret Stewart holding a priority her group was discussing

Margaret Stewart holding a priority her group was discussing

So what did they decide? In first place, Outreach- get the word out so more people will volunteer and support this vision. 2nd Place, Trail Maintenance- keep those trails clean, open, and walkable. Third, continue working to restore native plants and eradicate invasive plants. Finally, capital improvements, like signs and bike racks, are highly desired along the trail.

Now, we hand off not one, but 14 torches to these wonderful volunteers and work with them as they lead many of these events and outreach efforts, accomplishing tasks they themselves identified in the visioning session. We can see the path glowing brightly ahead. Can you?

Posted on January 13, 2015 .

December Headwater Highlights


Calling All Birders To The Trail

Saturday, January 3, 2015, the famous Christmas Bird Count of the Audubon Society for the first time will include South Fork Trails. The annual count braving cold weather to number birds and species in the name of science brings hundreds of binocular-toting bird lovers outdoors.

  Join us Jan 3! Photo Atlanta Audubon Society

Join us Jan 3! Photo Atlanta Audubon Society

For decades, bird counters ignored much of Intown Atlanta, under the theory there could be few interesting birds or numbers to count because of concrete and lack of green space.  Two years ago, Atlanta Audubon  president Joy Carter and others brought the CBC  back within the perimeter. Her skill at encouraging volunteers with modest bird knowledge to join the fun re-invigorated the Society's annual count.  Veteran naturalist Charles Seabrook interviewed Joy  for a story in Saturday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"...last year’s intown CBC results — 84 species — showed that Atlanta, although buried under thousands of acres of asphalt and concrete, still has ample green space to provide habitats for a variety of birds. “We’re hoping, of course, for more species this year, and perhaps a surprise or two,” Carter said.

Read Charles Seabrook's entire story 

In May 2014 Joy Carter toured South Fork trails with us and identified 25 species in just ninety minutes of walking. Why not come along in January and see how it compares to Joy’s May list?

Canada Goose, Mallard, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, crow sp., Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

concrete dumping in creek fall 2014.jpg

Illegal Creek Dumping Hurts the South Fork 

By Sally Sears

The week before Thanksgiving I was driving home when my cell phone rang. It was Ansley Abraham, sounding urgent. "Sally, somebody's been illegally dumping in the South Fork," he told me. By the time I spared Atlanta drivers my inattention by pulling over, he had emailed me photos of what he found.  I opened up the files carefully.

It was hard to believe my eyes. Big concrete slabs lay at awkward angles, slicing into the creek at Zonolite, on DeKalb County public land, across the beach from Zonolite Park. The pile of large pieces included fat chunks of broken concrete.  "What in the world?" I asked him.

Now I know Ansley Abraham is one great creek stewards, often walking miles up and down the banks in a single day after a rain. He's found some of the most beautiful pieces of native American pottery during his hikes, plus birds, unusual trees and rare human beings, too. But this human reminder is against the law.

"How did anybody get the concrete there to dump it?" I wondered. Ansley said he saw fresh scars of bulldozer tracks, eating into the fragile bank, leading back into the flood plain by Johnson Road, toward Noble Drive and Meadowdale Avenue.

  Ansley Abraham ( In profile on the right) shared views on John and Teresa Mayes' terrific artifact collection. Also gathered are other creek collectors  and  SFC friends. 

Ansley Abraham ( In profile on the right) shared views on John and Teresa Mayes' terrific artifact collection. Also gathered are other creek collectors  and  SFC friends. 

Neighbors there support in large numbers the idea of connected trails leading from Zonolite Park to the two nearby city of Atlanta parks, Morningside and Herbert Taylor. I figured most would be outraged at someone using the creek as a dumping ground for concrete. 

Soon I emailed the photos to DeKalb County's Natural Resources champion David Butler. He was immediately alert, asking for every scrap of information we could provide. He promised to raise the red flag with state Department of Natural Resources water protection officers.  

The mystery deepened the following week. I walked the creek and saw an old South Fork Friend. He lives within a mile of the illegal dumping. I asked him to inspect the scars from the bulldozer. He did. It seemed to him the tracks lead to a back yard of one of the neighborhood houses.  We passed that information on, too.

Any one up or down the creek who can help identify the culprits? Please email David Butler at DAButler@dekalbcountyga.gov or Sally Sears at Sally@southforkconservancy.org.

 From left to right: Troy Wilson, Migratory Bird Biologist, Debbie Harris,  Fish  and Wildlife Biologist, Angelou Ezeilo SFC, Sally Sears SFC, Sallie Gentry, Visitor Services Specialist, Haile Macurdy, Fisheries Biologist, Warm Springs National  Fish  Hatchery, USFWS, Alice Lawrence,  Fish  and Wildlife Biologist, Cindy Bohn,  Fish  and Wildlife Biologist 

From left to right: Troy Wilson, Migratory Bird Biologist, Debbie Harris, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Angelou Ezeilo SFC, Sally Sears SFC, Sallie Gentry, Visitor Services Specialist, Haile Macurdy, Fisheries Biologist, Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery, USFWS, Alice Lawrence, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Cindy Bohn, Fish and Wildlife Biologist 

Bob The Beaver Returns and This Time, We Love Him

 Toothy beaver bite photo by Sallie Gentry, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Toothy beaver bite photo by Sallie Gentry, US Fish and Wildlife Service

“He’s baaaaaaaaack!”

Bob Scott led his email with this last week. He didn’t need to say more- we understood. Bob the Beaver and Co. have returned to the Confluence Trail.

A little background:  We were introduced to a fine family of beavers last spring, when they announced their arrival by absconding with some of our hornbeam saplings. Now, we love the presence of wildlife, but we are not  pleased at losing some precious hornbeams. We struck a compromise with the beavers:  Trees Atlanta's Brian Williams taught us how to fence in our most important and expensive new trees & bushes. The non-natives? We left them  up for grabs. After all, a beav’s gotta eat.

By late fall, the return was a surprise. And trail users are keeping a close eye on  beaver-istic  activities on the trail. Last week they relayed surprising (and welcome) news: their new favorite snack seems to be the non-native, invasive Mimosa tree and even some Chinese Privet.

 “It appears the beavers are dragging the saplings and the branches down to the creek, softening the bark, and eating the bark,” reports neighbor Donna Davis. Bob Scott has also continued to update us with their progress, recently informing us that there was “a lot of chomping going on out there.”

Well Beaver buds, this is A-OK with us. Perhaps our furry friends noticed volunteers working tirelessly to push back these invasives and decided they wanted to do their part. Either way, we certainly won’t interfere with this natural invasive removal and Bob the Beaver:  if you’re listening, we’d like to say welcome back! Eat More Privet

Trash Talk

 Michael Montgomery's  tireless energy tucked up twelve tires tossed illegally in the creek. Thanks Michael!

Michael Montgomery's tireless energy tucked up twelve tires tossed illegally in the creek. Thanks Michael!

Trash is a common topic of conversation in our office. I know, I know- you’re thinking, “Wow, I wish I could talk about trash all day.” True, it is one of those conversations that can just go on and on… and on…and on.  Disposing of litter pulled out of the creek is a major challenge without a clear solution. Especially tires!  What a tricky, tiresome topic. And we know we’re not alone- many of you have reached out to us with your own concerns about disposing of creek and trail litter. When our wonderful volunteers, huffing and puffing, drag tires up from the creek, they are often full of waterlogged dirt, making them heavy and difficult to move. Ideally, removing them from the creek would be the hard part. Well, we’re here to tell you what actually happens when a tire is pulled out of the creek.

Here’s a recent example: volunteers pulled tires out of the creek and left them at the Lindbergh trail entrance. The ideal solution? Pick up by an organization equipped to manage tired removal We know others who have limited success with this approach, many by simply leaving the tires by the road. However, they sometimes end up waiting months for their removal.

In the end, we went to one of our trusty volunteers, Michael Montgomery, who generously lent his morning and truck to the cause by going with us move a batch of 14 tires to Liberty Tire on Huber Street, where we paid $1.25 per tire to recycle them. While we are so grateful to Michael, we know that this a less than ideal solution to an endemic problem.

The good news? More (and free) options are coming soon.  Next month, in January 2015, a boon for tire draggers and battery hoarders alike will open its doors to the public. LiveThrive Atlanta’s Center for Hard To Recycle Materials (CHaRM) will accept a variety of items for recycling and even better, reuse- see the full list here.

“We’re hoping to be open from 9AM to 4PM, six days a week,” says Peggy Whitlow Ratcliffe, who is leading the effort. “But it may end up being less than that- as non-profit, we’ll depend on volunteers.” The center can take up to 10 tires per person for free, anything more than has to stem from a city-approved clean up (authorization the South Fork and CHaRM can assist with).

CHaRM’s first event is one day on January 3 9-4pm- holiday clean up. Why not go and recycle your holiday waste with at their new facility? At this particular event, they will be accepting old electronics, x-mas tree lights, styrofoam, plastic packaging, etc. 

Checking Traps, Finding Treasure

By Margaret Walker, Volunteer Extraordinaire 

Cars move in and out and around Atlanta on highways designed for speed and access to places I want to get to: to visit friends, go out to eat, drop off the dry-cleaning, attend a meeting or ball game, a concert or hangout at a coffee shop: a net works of streets roads and highways have become like well worn paths.

I often refer to these comings and goings as “checking my traps”.  New to the Atlanta area, I have found myself often musing, “I wonder were this leads to?”  I wonder as I am out checking my traps, driving-the-now-all-too familiar-pattern of rights and left turns, what is under the ground where the MARTA station passes through…more networks and passages.  I am so grateful for these questions…like the prospector…. digging around for a strike, a jewel; an undiscovered fortune.  I admit, as well, to feeling sad and not just a little heart sick when I see buildings replacing green spaces.  I feel connected to the natural world and miss being in it more deeply.

Recently, while “checking my traps” on a bright, cold, and windy Saturday morning, I ran into the South Fork Conservancy tabling at ACE hardware – represented by a gal (Celia Lismore), the white table cloth flapping as if to lift itself from the table and head south.   What caught my eye was a logo of a leaf and I wanted to see it up close… If you are reading this, perhaps you have also examined the logo. The leaf reminds me of the back of my hand and looking more closely, I see that the veins of the leaf represent a waterway and I am hooked by it. This is how I became acquainted with the conservancy their trail plans. I quickly signed up for the next dusk tour.

I love a fall hike…I saw into the heart of the woods; and the creek, the rippling water sliding along.  I saw what I can’t see when there is foliage or when I am driving 50 mph.  When I raised my gaze to judge where I was, my surprise was the nearby buildings…impressive structures with their tall, unflinching backs turned to this serene spot down away and out of sight.  They are on the leaf as well! Following the trail beneath the broad expanse I-85 was a delight I never expected.  A blending of worlds of massive cement pillars and nearby flowing water and native species plants that made us all, well, happy to be in the middle of it.   I saw small well-worn animal trails and a path leading to the creek made by a deer…they, too, check their traps every day, hang out at the stream for a drink…so much I saw and so much I couldn’t see…so much wondering…so wonderful.  

Posted on December 16, 2014 .

November Headwater Highlights

Bob Wins Cox Conserves Hero Award

  Bob and his wife Cindy immediately after the announcement sitting next to a very happy Sally Sears. We are thrilled Bob received the recognition he deserves and that we have received such a generous donation. One of the best parts about this is that it was really all thanks to you for your vote!

Bob and his wife Cindy immediately after the announcement sitting next to a very happy Sally Sears. We are thrilled Bob received the recognition he deserves and that we have received such a generous donation. One of the best parts about this is that it was really all thanks to you for your vote!

And the winner is Bob Scott! A studio full of environmentalists cheered the South Fork hero as he took first place in the annual Cox Conserves Hero award  Tuesday night at Channel 2 WSB TV. Scott and his wife Cynthia beamed at the huge $10,000 prize for his charity of choice... The South Fork Conservancy.

"This is a great asset right in our backyard," Scott says of the Cedar Chase and Confluence trails he's faithfully mowed for years. The picture of Scott pushing a 22" mower caused Cox sponsors to suggest the prize include a riding mower one day.  He recommends using the money to help expand the trail connections from the BeltLine to Emory University.

 Competition for the top prize included Joy Carter, whose work with the Audubon Society includes bird identification along South Fork Trails, and Barry Henson, testing and restoring north Georgia forest waters.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program was created through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Channel 2 WSB-TV, to honor local conservation volunteers.  


By Sally Sears

I took clippers and a friend to help me with some Chestnut Guilt Sunday afternoon. 

A year ago I helped scouts and students plant 18 chestnut saplings on a slope by the South Fork, on the Confluence trail. All  spring long I hiked the trail and watched the newcomer trees thrive. Proud Midwife! But the hot summer and fast-growing vines kept me from leaving the trail to check on the chestnut babies. Before long, I could not see them. By August my guilt was as hot as the sun, strangling like a honeysuckle vine. I ignored it. Only now, after a first freeze, was I ready to see how many survived their first summer of inattention. Jane came with me. We climbed  to the top of the orchard, past a stray Bradford Pear, dodging thorny hybrid rose canes. There we  found our first chestnut. 

Twelve months in the ground, small and the leaf was dead. But the pencil sized trunk was limber and alive. Jane pounced on the vines that overgrew it. I searched for another. A big one, maybe two feet high, full of chestnut colored leaves, stood in a charmed circle. We enlarged the circle. Another smaller tree up by the DOT fence was covered in broom sedge. Cleared! So we worked our way down the slope. My guilt eased with each yank of a honeysuckle root. 

I remembered the bright young man who led the project in fourth grade, at Morningside Elementary.  Thomas Rudolph and his classmates put nuts in pots in a window and watched them spring to life.  Special nuts with some immunity to Asian Chestnut Blight.  Two dozen nuts survived the classrooms' experiment and Thomas visited them over the summer at Tony Powers' Hardware Store greenhouse. 

Then he led the planting of the 18 saplings which made it through the summer. WABE Radio did a news story on returning chestnuts to the South Fork.   Then I sort of stopped paying attention. I know Thomas had a big first year in Middle School.  

It takes patience to raise an orchard, and hot work fighting invasive non-native vines. I'm not there yet.   So finding a tree growing quietly under a tangle of vines was inspiring. Jane and I celebrated each little twig we found.  Six. Seven.  I chopped down the Bradford Pear.  Beside it was Chestnut Eight. And then nine. 

There may be more, but that was enough for today. My guilt on hold, we  scrambled down to the trail. Nine out of eighteen?  I want to call Thomas and the boy  scouts who  helped to plant them. We are batting five hundred. I will take that. I bet they will, too.

Cheshire Farm Trail Transformed

As GDOT’s best laid plans continue to unfold, the Cheshire Farm Trail has gone from gravel gorge to winding woodland, almost overnight! The trail reaped serious seasonal rewards this fall with extensive plantings along the footpath’s edge. Why not take a crisp stroll and try our tree scavenger hunt- which of these can you spot?

  • Kudzu
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Red Maple
  • Deodar Cedar
  • Willow Oak
  • Sassafras
  • Loblolly Pine
  • Nellie Stevens Holly
  • Overcup Oaks
  • Black Gum
  • Winged Sumac
  • River Oats
  • Japanese Hops
  • American Chestnut
  • Poison Ivy (look out!)
  • Silver Bell

While you’re at it, take a look at our completed prototype trailhead sign on the Meadow Trail (see Warner McConaughey’s article below).

Invasives Fade From View In Parkwood Park

Parkwood Park replaced the lush green of summer with an abundance of fall colors!  We are enjoying the bright yellow & crimson of the spice bushes and sweet shrubs.  The red  winterberries are especially abundant this year and I can see the birds eyeing the bright purple berries on our beauty berries. Installation for Meredith Judlicka’s, Garden Designer with Plants Creative Landscapes planting plan is due to begin in the south end of the park in the next few weeks.

We are especially thankful for what is missing in our park—the war on the English ivy is almost won.  The few remaining privet, amur honeysuckles, and liriope won’t be around this time next year.  Parkwood Garden Club members continue to support the restoration with their generous donations so we can continue our efforts in 2015.

warner painting sign.jpg

A Sign of Things To Come

By Warner McConaughey, SFC Board Member

Atlanta’s trail builders follow different approaches. The PATH Foundation builds bike trails, inviting users onto broad ribbons of concrete traversing the city and surrounding countryside. The Beltline’s vision centers around a train track and in-fill housing. 

The South Fork is different. Our goals aren’t focused on man-made infrastructure. Our paths follow existing sewer easements, highway right-of-ways, parks and residential backyards as they pass through first-growth forests, meadows, floodplains and urban settings. Through a network of 31 miles of trails, our vision aims for connectivity, restoration, and watershed repair.

The trail’s design is unique in that it’ll be dictated by the wants and needs of the various neighborhoods through which it travels. Just as every neighborhood is unique with its own flair and appeal, each trail segment will reflect the local sentiment and personality. Some stretches will consist of a small footpath, others will be built for bikes and joggers, and perhaps others for wheelchairs and strollers. 

In a dynamic riparian environment, however, we need a unifying element to link all the different segments. Instead of infrastructure and concrete, South Fork trails will be unified by trailhead signage and wayfinding markers. The branding will represent the South Fork’s vision: it will help visitors feel connected, guides and informs them, and increases their safety and security.  

Developing the branding and signage of such a grand project has been a daunting and yet exciting process. We started by looking at signs at other parks, trails and historical sights. It was easy to see what we didn't want: obnoxious signs that stood out of place, and signs that were counterintuitive to their message. We also found that horizontal signs seemed to do more to hide the site than promote it, and did not blend in well to the natural setting.

One cannot deny the strong links to the past and the many Indian influences along our creeks and trails--in fact the confluence of the North and South Forks is the site of an important Indian village. We also wanted to be respectful of our natural aesthetics, so our obvious choice for our signs were to make them out of natural materials--wood and rusted corten metal. Nature is better represented by vertical elements, so we looked at doing tall, subtle, vertical signs that would better blend into nature. By using a linear look, a bundle of sticks, almost like a totem pole, we think we have created a signature look that is representative of our mission.

The South Fork is delighted to have installed its first prototype sign. Please come check out our sign on the Meadow Loop Trailhead at Lindbergh Drive and let us know what you think! Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Sewage Contaminates The South Fork

On Wednesday, October 29, 2014, bad news poured in from creek watchers.  Atlanta Watershed spokeswoman Scheree Rawls confirmed that raw sewage poured into the South Fork of Peachtree Creek after a rain. Debris in the creek is the cause probable of the 5,500 gallon spill, from damage to a new sewer pipe near the CSX Railroad tracks just upstream from Taqueria Del Sol at Cheshire Bridge Road.

Emergency crews worked quickly to repair the system, adding signs alerting nearby neighbors to the unsanitary conditions.  Rawls says the city reported the spill to the Georgia office of Environmental Protection.

The spill is near a large tank built to hold sewage during rainstorms. Atlanta is completing a court-ordered repair of its sewer system, and in June installed a ten million gallon tank to store raw sewage off Cheshire Bridge at Liddell Drive. The tank is designed to take pressure off two sewer lines on either side of the creek. 

Clearly, rainstorms are part of the problem. The Watershed Department's website says the Liddell Tank is intended to prevent spills during storms. The following was taken from the city’s website peachtree-creek-capacity-relief-project: "System capacity is sufficient to convey dry weather flows but is compromised when conveying peak flows generated during wet weather."

  Planting day was a blast! Photo of Dean Sprinkle, courtesy of Marianne Skeen.

Planting day was a blast! Photo of Dean Sprinkle, courtesy of Marianne Skeen.

Community Creates Native Forest at Ira B Melton Park

By Valerie Boss, Chairperson, Friends of Ira B Melton Park

A couple of years ago, the entrance to Ira B Melton Park at Desmond Drive was so overgrown with privet that most people didn’t realize the place was there. Then, the South Fork Conservancy got the ball rolling; the neighbors got fired up and formed a Park Pride Friends group, and the Boy Scouts threw in many helping hands.

And now? The privet’s gone. Same for a tangle of English ivy and Asian honeysuckle. Thanks to a Park Pride Small Change Grant, some generous matching funds (from the Clairmont Heights Civic Association, Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, South Fork Conservancy), wonderful planting layouts by Ainsley Waken of Awaken Landscape Designs, and a tremendous amount of hard work by the local community, Friends of Ira B Melton Park replaced the invasive species with thriving Georgia natives.

This extensive planting project received some much appreciated cash and in-kind donations along the way from the following: M. Cary and Daughters, Tony Powers at Intown Ace Hardware, Sally Sears, Lola Halpin, Denise Hartline, and Ron Smith (all members of the Georgia Native Plant Society).

The trail loop got some TLC, too. Thanks to Boy Scout Troop 534 and neighbors with strong backs and willing spirits, the south section near Glenn Creek was graveled. No more sinking ankle-deep in mud after a heavy rain! And Cub Scout Pack 6 of Den 7 Webelos II did a great job clearing out trash deposits in the park interior.

Looking forward to 2015, DeKalb County’s Parks Department promises  a stepping-stone crossing over the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. It will connect Ira B Melton and Mason Mill Parks with an innovative method of keeping feet dry and water flowing between large stepping stones. The idea is funded, projected for completion in September 2015.

Posted on November 18, 2014 .

October Headwater Highlights

Vote for South Fork Volunteer Hero

  A sweaty-gloved Bob Scott maintains the Confluence Trail.

A sweaty-gloved Bob Scott maintains the Confluence Trail.

We need your help voting to honor a quiet hero. Bob Scott on Armand Road is a steady presence on the confluence trail with his dogs and his 22" push mower. He's up for a $10,000 prize from Cox Conserves. "I was completely surprised," Bob says. I had no idea - they left a voice mail and at first I thought it was a sales call. I had to listen to it twice before it really registered!" Hear his own words on a 2 minute video here.

He inspires confidence, encourages trail users and opens the creek to new admirers with his daily routine.

Cox Conserves, the national sustainability program of Cox Enterprises, chose him as a finalist for their Hero Award. If you help us vote him the winner, he promises to give the $10,000 prize to the Conservancy.

Vote now- Make Bob our Cox Conserves Hero. Deadline is November 3rd.

After you vote, please share this video with your friends and neighbors. Your vote honors Bob's dedication and helps us raise $10,000 for the connected vision he supports.

Sunny Open for Cheshire Farm Trail

The ribbon cutting crowd gathers for a group trail tour. Joseph Cheshire leads the way. This pictures was also featured in the AJC's piece on the ribbon cutting

A new trail for urban nature lovers drew a cheering crowd on September 29. Partners snipped a kudzu ribbon to let 75 supporters explore the new Cheshire Farm Trail and bridges.

From Left to Right: SFC Board Chairman Bob Kerr, SFC Executive Director Sally Sears, Councilman Alex Wan, Sustainability Director Denise Quarles, Dept of Parks and Rec Commissioner Amy Phuong. Photo courtesy of Eric Bowles' Photography

The crowd stood beneath the 80 foot GA 400 ramp, celebrating the half mile trail created by a partnership of Georgia DOT, the City of Atlanta, The South Fork Conservancy, Lindridge Martin Manor Neighborhood and the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition.

 "What I found so exciting about this event was the number of people who showed up from all over the city representing so many different neighborhoods," notes LLCC President Henry Batten. "It was almost like a family reunion."

The kudzu cutting was so successful, it was repeated at the end of the event, with Home Depot friends with clippers.

From left to right: Home Depot Lindbergh Store Manager David Sharpton, Lieutenant Jeff Baxter APD, Director of Sustainability Denise Quarles, newly appointed commissioner of City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Amy Phuong, Home Depot Regional Manager Jabarr Bean, Atlanta Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Center Forward Planning's Heather Alhadeff. Photo courtesy of Eric Bowles' Photography

... (to read the whole story, sign up to receive our printed newsletter). View more  of Eric Bowles' fantastic Ribbon Cutting Photos. 

SCAD To Create Confluence "Guardian" Art Under The Bridge 

  I-85 overpass on the Confluence Trail

I-85 overpass on the Confluence Trail

Gregor Turk's sculpture class from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) paced beneath the hulking I-85 overpass on the Confluence trail, seeing a brighter future for this sometimes forbidding area. The students' idea?  Paint some of the columns linking them to the nearby creek. Use Georgia clay as paint base; then stencil images of water, native leaves and insects.


These beautiful installations will usher walkers through the underpass and on to the Confluence.

The idea took off. Students took it to neighborhood trail users, the local planning unit NPU F. Support grew quickly.

Today, a year after Gregor Turks' class examined the underpass, property owner Georgia DOT  said yes to the project. Now, all that stands between the students and their concrete canvas is fund raising. $20,000 needed for supplies, oversight and equipment.

A gift of dollars will make a scary space a treat to visit! Do you want to help bring these plans to life? Reply to this email or donate here. 

Old, New Cedars to Flourish On Trail


  Alcoa employee Matthew Miller preps the trail side for the Deodar sapling.

Alcoa employee Matthew Miller preps the trail side for the Deodar sapling.

Dozens of stately Deodar Cedars have new baby relatives sheltering the Cheshire Farm trail, thanks to Trees Atlanta and volunteers from Alcoa.

The trees were almost invisible to motorists on I-85, hidden with 20 years of ivy and kudzu infestation. Trail builders got an up-close view of the tall cedars, native to the Himalaya, and noticed several were dead or dying.

Trees Atlanta's Brian Williams found five tall saplings, and led the volunteers to plant them close to the Lindbergh Drive trail entrance. 

 Got clippers? Ivy Cut!

Got clippers? Ivy Cut!


The group also began freeing the older trees from the debilitating clutches of English Ivy. Planting trees and clearing vines is hard work, and we're immensely grateful to this cheerful team for accomplishing so much. Also, here's a BIG shout out to Trees Atlanta for donating the saplings and leading the effort.

Cedrus deodara are hardy, slow growing trees with a broad canopy, fat cones and richly scented needles, likely to provide shade for generations of hikers. 

The Cheshire Family: History Lives In The Present

by Celia Lismore

The Cheshires attend the Cheshire Farm Ribbon Cutting. From left to right: Curtis Cheshire, Joseph Cheshire, Barbara (Bebe) Cheshire

I grew up driving up and down Cheshire Bridge Road, never knowing the Cheshires were not only still around, but full of life. When I sat down with Bebe, Curtis, and Joe Cheshire, I hoped I was in for a treat- I wasn't disappointed. Bebe, full of energy, launched immediately into a lively discussion.

"When I heard about what you all were doing down there on Peachtree creek, I got so excited," says Bebe. "If I had a million dollars, I'd use it to clean up Peachtree Creek." An avid historian, Bebe deeply recognizes the significance of the creek, especially within her own family.

The two sons of Hezekiah Cheshire and Sarah Goodwin Cheshire, Napoleon and Solomon Jerome (born in the early-mid 1800s), settled their families on either side of the North Fork of Peachtree Creek. They built a bridge to provide access to each others' homes, inspiring the name Cheshire Bridge Road. Napoleon's classic 18th Century home commanded the hill adjacent to the Cheshire Farm Trail Head until the death of his maiden daughters, Cora and Carrie Mae, in the 1940s (information gained from Bebe's book The Spirit of Rock Spring).

Napoleon Cheshire's Farm House (used to stand across the street from the Cheshire Farm Trailhead on Cheshire Bridge Road)

"Oh they were just the cutest old maids there ever could be," remembers BeBe. Cora and Carrie lived in the house until their death, leaving it nearly unaltered. Growing up in the shadow of this grand house, Bebe, a daughter of Wright family, grew up playing in the creek with the Cheshire kids.

 "Our mother forbid us from playing in the creek, so we had to sneak down there," recalls Curtis Cheshire. "But she always found out. We asked her how she knew and all she would say was that 'A bird told me.' This bird mystified us for years until she admitted our dirty socks were what gave us away."

 These families were tied together by their membership at Rock Spring Church on Piedmont Road. More than a church, the building was and still is a community center. Bebe, active at Rock Spring and in the Atlanta community, says she'd love to do what she can to support the effort to restore Peachtree Creek.

Summer's End On The South Fork

By Donna Davis, Cedar Chase Association

Golden Rod in its glorious bloom

I have a routine.  Every day when I get home and get changed, my dogs and I rush outside for a round of fetch and a treasure hunt on the Confluence trail.   While we've all been busy enjoying the cooler days of Autumn, the insect life has been working hard on the trail ensuring we'll have a colorful season and a brilliant spring.   And, those treasures?? Much easier to find in the Autumn when the vivid hues of summer are fading to a softer more mature palate providing just the right back drop for the jewels popping up along the trail these days.

In recent days, I've come across eye poppingly gorgeous clumps of Goldenrod so heavy they bend the stalks supporting them.  Check out this dazzling display resting softly on a fallen log just waiting to be discovered and appreciated!  

Bee enjoying argeratum


Just a few steps ahead I stumbled upon some very busy bees at work pollinating late summer Ageratum, preparing it for next year's stunning entrance.   Doesn't the purple remind you of an early Autumn sunset?

And, if you're worried there might not be any flowers for you to see, the trees always provide a cornucopia of delightful secrets for you to find.  I just LOVE Autumn.... Not only do our trees provide beauty and grace, they also shelter some of the most delicate and hard-working inhabitants of the trail.

So grab your gear...whatever that is (kids, dogs,  cameras...) and go treasure hunting while Autumn is still working hard to make it worth your while!   Happy Hunting!

Posted on November 4, 2014 .

September Headwater Highlights

SFC board member Warner McConaughey installs signs  at Lindbergh and Meadow Trail.

New Map Guides Trail Users

Look! We now have a shiny new map of our phase one trail plan. It's also on our newly updated website (hint: you should check that out too). And thanks to Warner McConaughey, signs and maps are up on the Meadow Trail sign posts. Want to go see it? Here's a google map linkto the Meadow Trail.


Amazon Smile Makes Giving Easy

  Just start your shopping trip at smile.amazon.com and pick us as your chosen non-profit    

Just start your shopping trip at smile.amazon.com and pick us as your chosen non-profit


Now you can support us when you shop on Amazon! When you go to smile.amazon.com, you can select us as your preferred non-profit and a portion of your purchase will be donated to support our vision (you don't pay anything extra). But remember, you have to start each of your Amazon shopping trips at smile.amazon.com in order for it to work. Nickels and dimes really add up when we're all contributing.






Kudzu Killers Restore The Meadow

Fantastic Friday with Home Depot and CBRE volunteers last week! Check out before and after pics of the Meadow Trail below. Here's how partners work. Hands on Atlanta offered CBRE Real Estate volunteers from Buckhead. Home Depot helped guide the Kudzu killing with Trees Atlanta's Brian Williams' expert oversight. This really was partnership at its best, folks! Click here to see a photo gallery of the day. 


Cheshire Farm Ribbon Cutting NEXT Tuesday

Join one of the tours below to hear first hand how the trail came to be. Photo cred: Kwabena Nkromo from Atlanta Food and Farm.

The celebration of our newest trail is just steps away. Earliest users find the trail 

Join one of the tours below to hear first hand how the trail came to be. Photo cred: Kwabena Nkromo from Atlanta Food and Farm.

changes how they exercise and puts more nature back in their lives. Find out more about the trail on its new page on our website.

Please join us Sept 23, Tuesday morning at 9:30 am for the Cheshire Farm Trail Ribbon Cutting. We're inviting the trail builders at the Georgia Department of Transportation, the community wanting this trail as mitigation for new Ga 400 Interstate ramps, and South Fork Conservancy friends who loved our vision of trails giving better access to the creek. That means you!

Can't make it to the ceremony? Then join us for one of the ribbon cutting tours listed below:

Sunday, Sept 21 at 5:30 PM Led by neighbors Rich and Dorothy Sussman

Monday, Sept 21 at 7:00 PM Led by South Fork Executive Director Sally Sears

Tuesday, Sept 22 at 10:00 AM (immediately following the ceremony) Led by neighbor Bob Scott

Tuesday, Sept 22 at 7:00 PM Led by Celia Lismore, South Fork Conservancy and neighbor Sue Sherrill.

Ample onstreet parking available on Lindridge and Armand Drives. Parking for Ribbon Cutting only will be available at 2470 Cheshire Bridge Road, 30324.

Registration requested for ribbon cutting ceremony and tours. To RSVP, register on our website or email celia@southforkconservancy.org.


Creek Ranger Bulletin: Beware Of The Yellow and Black

Bob Scott mows the Confluence Trail every two weeks with the help of fellow neighbor Wayne Owen. Our heroes.

A walk by the creek side gives lovely views, fresh air, and furry friend sightings. But, beware. ur Trail Ranger, master mower, and neighbor Bob Scott helps us stay mindful by sending us regular updates. He passed on this valuable intel us last weekend- perhaps some animal and plant friends are best left alone. 

"YELLOW JACKETS!!! There is a nest of yellow jackets on the spur trail that runs off of the meadow trail and under the Interstate bridges. Found it the hard way; wasn't able to see where the nest was........busy getting out of there! Beware."

Thanks for the heads up Bob and stay aware out there you intrepid trekkers!







Methodists Free The Trees

Engaged volunteers make a world of difference here at the South Fork Conservancy. So, when Glenn Memorial Methodist Church chose our trails as a site for its annual "Good Neighbor Day," we were thrilled. Church members and Boy Scouts saved our Oconee Azaleas, winged sumacs, and sassafras saplings by cutting vines.

Next time you're on the Confluence Trail, be on the lookout for their work and also some great tree and shrub identification signs past the I-85 overpass. Some of those scouts clearly have a touch of the James Audubon about them!

 We need more good neighbors out there through November. Here's a list of volunteer dates we hope you'll sign up for.

October 2 at 6PM- Happy Volunteer- Join us for a short evening of work and a beverage to finish.

October 18 at 9AM- Hands On Atlanta city-wide volunteer day

November 15 at 9AM- Chestnut Planting

November 22 at 9AM- Final Chestnut Planting

To sign up for one of these dates, use the events page on our website or reply to this email. 

Posted on September 16, 2014 .

August's Headwater Highlights

Zonolite Trail Improvements On The Way

 Tiny fans love the trail to the creek. Trail improvements promised by a Georgia Recreational Trails Grant are coming soon to the meadow trail and trailhead. Audra Brown Cooper from East Point is the low bidding contract winner for the work overseen by DeKalb County making the trails easier to enjoy.

 Tiny trail fan using the meadow trail to get to the creek at Zonolite Park

Tiny trail fan using the meadow trail to get to the creek at Zonolite Park


Fall Calls For Volunteers

Justin Thomas planting saplings on the trail in fall 2013

Can you believe that fall is almost here? Not only is it a gorgeous time to be on the creek, the next few months are a vital time for planting and trail maintenance. Please join us for one (or many) of the volunteer days or trail tours listed below. We depend on our volunteers to make our vision of restoring the creek and connecting people to nature a reality. If you come we’ll provide you with free smiles, snacks, water and other fun things! Sign up now on our website.


Sept 6 9AM-11AM: Trail Tour

Sept 6 9AM-12PM: Glenn Memorial Good neighbor day

Sept 12: Home Depot and Hands on Atlanta Volunteer day

Sept 18: Park Pride Picnic for the Parks

Sept 18 6PM-7:30PM: Happy Volunteer Hour

Sept 23 9:30AM: Cheshire Farm Trail Ribbon Cutting

Sept 23 6:30-8:30PM: Dusk Trail Tour



Oct 1: Save the Deodar Cedars! Vine Removal Day

Oct 9AM-11AM: Trail Tour

Oct 18: Hands on Atlanta City Wide Volunteer Day

Oct 28 6PM-8PM: Dusk Tour

Oct 31 4PM-6PM: Halloween Vine Reaping



Nov 1 9AM-11AM: Trail Tour

Nov 8: Emory Cares International Service Day

Nov 15 9AM-12PM: Chestnut Tree Planting on the Confluence Trail

Nov 22 9AM-12PM: Chestnut Tree Planting on the Confluence Trail

Nov 18 6PM-8PM: Dusk Trail Tour


Cheshire Farm Trail Ribbon Cutting September 23rd

The remarkable bridge crossing the creek on the Cheshire Farm Trail

At last, a ribbon cutting is ready to celebrate a long-awaited trail beside the creek. Early users say the new trail is an exciting transformation, changing where they exercise and putting more nature back in their lives. 

Please join us Sept 23, Tuesday morning at 9:30 am. We're inviting the trail builders at the Georgia Department of Transportation, the neighbors wanting this trail as mitigation for new Ga 400 Interstate ramps, and South Fork Conservancy friends who loved our vision of trails giving better access to the creek.

 It will be a fun hour of talking and walking the half mile, firm stable trail from Cheshire Bridge Road at I-85 to Lindbergh Drive. So lace up your walking shoes and come to the Cheshire Bridge end of the trail for a short celebration and a good tour.

Bill LaDuca explores the site of the future Cheshire Farm Trail in 2011

Parking will be available at 2470 Cheshire Bridge Road, 30324. Let us know if you can come and enjoy our before (with Bill LaDuca visiting the site in 2011) and after (the largest bridge crossing the North Fork of Peachtree Creek) shots of the Cheshire Farm Trail! The story the trail’s creation and the process of naming it is a fascinating one- learn more and visit the new Cheshire Farm Trail page on our website.


Before and After: The Upside Down Bridge

At first glance, the upside down bridge on the Confluence Trail may not catch your attention. Believe it or not, we did that on purpose. Designed by Sylvatica Studio, this bridge is the epitome of the South Fork Conservancy's approach to trail making. Deftly engineered, the bridge provides effective storm water management with layers of filtering rocks. The low impact design blends in with its surroundings and provides a safe crossing- no trolls under this bridge!

We convinced a local dog resident, Marley (who belongs to Donna Davis, president of the Cedar Chase Condominium Association), to pose for us on the bridge. Here he is right after the bridge was installed in 2012. 

Marley on the bridge in Summer 2014


A Fresh Perspective on The South Fork

 Sonia Martinez on a dusk-lit Cheshire Farm Trail 

Sonia Martinez on a dusk-lit Cheshire Farm Trail 

Sonia Martinez is a Morningside native who never knew what lay beyond her backyard fence. After receiving a Masters Degree in Human Resources and Labor Relations in Milwaukee, she returned to Morningside with an itch to spend more time outdoors and thinks outside the box on how we can bring more young volunteers to our trails.

“One day I discovered Morningside and Herbert Taylor nature preserves while I was running” remembers Sonia. “It’s great that there are so many nature preserves right in the city, and there’s so much untapped land underneath all of these bridges. It’s crazy to me that we are all spending time on the street when there’s so much space to move in nature.”

Shortly after stumbling upon these parks, Sonia joined a tour of Zonolite led by South Fork’s Sally Sears- the rest is history. She became an instant support of South Fork’s vision of connecting people to greenspaces and could regularly be seen on the trails planting trees and removing invasive plants. In addition to her hard work, this twenty-something volunteer shed new light on our work while we walked on the Cheshire Farm Trail.

“One reason I don’t come out more is because of WHEN your volunteer days are- you’re not going to get a younger age group to come out at 9AM on a Saturday morning,” says Sonia. “Volunteer days need to be during the week, and then we all go grab a drink afterwards.” Sonia thinks adding volunteer days like this would help us tap into new groups like the artist and biking communities, bringing eager helping hands who already spend time in these areas to the trail.

“The graffiti community is a big in Atlanta- it’s quite an art form. When I got back I started spending time with street artists crawling under bridges to watch them paint- that’s another reason I learned about all of the creeks and green areas in Atlanta,” says Sonia.

Sonia calls these areas our “unchartered backyard,” and says that we need to continuing improving access to these gorgeous places so that more people can benefit from spending time along the creek and among the trees.

Posted on August 25, 2014 .

South Fork In The News

Here's a great segment on CBS46 airing July 31, 2014. The clip features our Executive Director Sally Sears sharing the beauty of Zonolite Park and the future of hiking trails along our intown creeks. 

Posted on July 31, 2014 .

July's Headwater Highlights

The Promise Of The Confluence Revealed

 The Glade on the Confluence trail 

The Glade on the Confluence trail 

What a difference a year can make.  Where once privet, vines, weeds and underbrush choked the Confluence Trail (also known as the Cedar Chase Trail), there is a wonderful stillness framed by birdsong. In the middle of this peacefulness a community is growing!

Walking down the footpath, the South Fork of Peachtree Creek unexpectedly reveals itself to you on your left… a few steps further the path widens, revealing an inviting open space to your left- we call it the glade. However, just one year ago, the glade (and much of the trail) was obstructed by years of invasive plant growth.

“We used to walk on the trail before any work was done,” recalls Donna Davis, president of the Cedar Chase Condominium Association. “It was a wild tangle of underbrush and we didn’t have any way to restore the canopy.”

Thanks to Trees Atlanta and dedicated South Fork volunteers, this is no longer the case. Where invasive privet and vines once reigned, now young native trees point skyward.  Last fall saw the planting of $10,000 worth of saplings on the Confluence Trail, courtesy of NASCAR and CSX grants.

“This work has changed things on the trail,” says Donna. “It creates a promise where before there was a hope, and you can really see something happening. Now whenever I go down, I always see people- before the restoration, you didn’t really. Now they are going because it’s a semi-managed area while also being a natural green space in the city.

This summer’s lush growth has its challenges. After noticing a massive growth of vines threatening the saplings, Donna’s partner, Perry Kentrail, quickly cut them back. A couple of weeks later, Celia Lismore led a group of Accenture volunteers into the glade with swing blades.  See the picture above! Help us keep the promise of this restoration- let us know if you can help raise these saplings. 



Doe, A Deer Meets Bob The Beaver

 Deer frolicking at Zonolite Park

Deer frolicking at Zonolite Park

First there was Bob the Beaver and co, then along came the turtles, ducks, and foxes… the number of animal sightings on South Fork trails only continues to increase. This time, neighbor Bob Scott spots a family of deer strolling down Armand Road, bound for the Confluence Trail.

Watching the thunderstorm from my front window just now,” emails Bob. “Three deer at the intersection of Armand Road and Cardova Drive!”

And he’s not the only one. Other neighbors responded in kind, saying that they too have enjoyed the presence of the local deer in recent weeks. Prepare a nice habitat and they will come!  Let us know when see new members of our growing family. 

Posted on July 23, 2014 .