the upper altamaha initiative:
athens-clarke county parks restoration
Kalle Butler, Rebekah Justice, and Emily Levitan
This project addresses three concerns that are seen as environmental stresses and management issues for the ACC Parks Department. The first concentrates on the conversion of underutilized turf in some areas of the parks to meadows or prairies. ACC parks have an initiative to convert these underutilized turf areas to reduce unnecessary maintenance efforts and costs, and to lessen the environmental impacts of traditional turf grass management. Conversion of turf to meadows or prairies is a less intensive and less costly management scheme for ACC parks in the long term. A best management practices guide will be developed to address issues of implementation, management, and species selection. Also, the transformation of turf into a more diverse ecosystem will reduce the environmental impact of traditional turf management.
The second concern is the creation of a restoration plan for the ponds at Memorial Park. There are large amounts of sediment in both of the ponds that has have accumulated for decades from stormwater runoff from the Five Points neighborhood. The pond water and sediment are potentially polluted as a result of this runoff in addition to waste from the ducks and geese that reside at the ponds. ACC has requested research of the legal constraints and necessary permitting required for dredging the ponds and disposing of the silt. The banks of the ponds and of the stream that feeds into the ponds are eroded and unstable. A restoration plan for reestablishing the riparian buffers is also needed to ensure health of the ponds and a safe and aesthetic barrier for visitors.
The last issue is the Southeast Clarke Park Rain Garden Restoration. This project addresses the lack of information regarding the functionality and maintenance of the rain garden installed at the entrance of the park. This garden, meant to be a learning tool for developers and the community who are interested in stormwater management alternatives, is in dire need of attention to restore it to its proper function so that it can be a legitimate teaching mechanism for the community. Through the development of clearly defined design guidelines, which can be utilized in future ACC Parks projects as it will set out design, installation, and maintenance guidelines, the existing garden will be redesigned with more site-appropriate sizing and planting design, and a maintenance schedule. These issues will be addressed with the goal in mind to enhance, aesthetically and ecologically, the ACC Parks for the enjoyment of the residents of ACC.