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Atlanta Botanical Garden started water conservation project receives grant

A trio of Atlanta area water conservation projects have received grants from Georgia Power and partners through the Five Star Restoration Program.

Staff Report

Three metro Atlanta waterway conservation projects, including a continuation of a successful urban riparian recovery program begun by the , have been awarded grants by Georgia Power through the Five Star Restoration program.

Southern Company is the Southern regional lead corporate sponsor for Five Star Restoration, a national program to support water-related conservation, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Association of Counties and the Wildlife Habitat Council.

The projects include:

Peachtree Creek Confluence Restoration
Recipient: The South Fork Conservancy
This project will 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, Trees Atlanta, Park Pride, Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, Perkins+Will, the City of Atlanta and CH2M HILL.

Water Conservation and Native Habitat Restoration in Atlanta
Recipient: Atlanta BeltLine Inc.
This project will 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, such as planting native trees, grasses and berrries.

Dunwoody Nature Center Meadow Restoration
Recipient: Dunwoody Nature Center
This project will 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.

Five Star Restoration is one of three environmental stewardship programs sponsored by Georgia Power in partnership with NFWF. The programs emphasize results-based collaboration with diverse partners, including environmental groups, public agencies, non-governmental organizations, landowners, schools, businesses and other stakeholders.

In addition to Five Star Restoration, the partnership supports projects to conserve birds characteristic of the South through the Power of Flight program and to restore the region's longleaf pine ecosystem through the Longleaf Legacy/Longleaf Stewardship Fund.

Southern Company this year is providing $216,163 in Five Star Restoration grants that, combined with partner-matching funds, will result in a total of $999,416 to help restore more than 149 acres of wetland, riparian and coastal habitat and 8,210 feet of riparian buffer in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi -- the states in which the company's retail utilities operate.

Since 2006, Southern Company has contributed a total of $1.42 million to 67 Five Star Restoration grants for projects that will result in an on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $5.37 million to restore more than 540 acres of wetlands and more than 69,330 feet of riparian buffer.

"The key to the success of the Five Star Restoration program is the inspiration, tenacity and passion of the grantees," Ron Shipman, Georgia Power executive vice president for environmental affairs, said in a news release. "Georgia Power is honored to be partners in this work that is so vital to the natural health of our region."

Added Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, "Each of the Five Star Restoration grants awarded this year will directly benefit critical lands in our communities. With the continued support of Georgia Power and the engagement of our conservation partners, we're improving the environment for both wildlife and residents in the Southeast."

- Georgia Power contributed to this story

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