By Sally Sears
Invitation to explore a meadow in winter — it’s a newly created trail through a long-ignored slice of Midtown, beside Peachtree Creek and Interstate 85. Popular tours of the trails last week gave dogs, owners and neighbors a walk in nature.
The neighbors and the South Fork Conservancy are carving a new vision for caring for our intown creeks. Simple trails through the landscape beside the south and north forks encourage people to walk their dogs, breathe deeply and re-discover big hardwoods hiding in plain sight on public land. This meadow is interstate right of way, next to a neighborhood with almost no accessible greenspace.
Two years of cooperation helped to build this mulch trail, weaving along the creek and through a meadow of wild flowers and grasses. Neighbors hope to connect the trails under the interstate to the Morningside Nature Preserve, Zonolite Park and then to the Herbert Taylor-Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve.
If you want to walk it, the trail head is just across the guard rail at Lindbergh Drive and I-85. On street parking available at Lindbergh Drive and Armand Road.
More information is available at the South Fork Conservancy website. Sally Sears is the Executive Director of thr South Fork Conservancy, a nonprofit that seeks to restore, conserve and protect the Riparian systems of the South Fork of Peachtree Creek Watershed. This article appeared in the Virginia Highland/North Druid Hills Patch on January 11, 2012.
The US Environmental Protection Agency announced test results for asbestos contamination of public land along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. The news encouraged green space supporters hoping to build trails for public use near the creek.
Last spring federal agents gathered soil and air samples near the trail site, looking for remaining traces of asbestos from a closed vermiculite processing plant at Zonolite Road near Emory University. The results revealed at a community meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sheridan Road found no measurable asbestos on most of the site. Only at one site did the EPA find what it called “barely detectable” asbestos contamination.
EPA coordinator Terry Stilman says “the risks from exposure to airborne asbestos are very low for recreational users.”
Neighbors want a creek side trail linking the park to Daniel Johnson-Herbert Taylor Park just upstream, across Johnson Road, and a community garden in the 13 acres now owned by DeKalb County. Another large public park, the Morningside Nature Preserve, is nearby downstream.
The single spot still suspected of contamination is a mound or plateau about 170 x 250 feet, between the former Zonolite plant and the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. “This site needs some action,” Stilman told a crowd of two dozen neighbors, trail and park supporters, and green space officials from DeKalb County. “It has a barely detectable amount of asbestos present. Without the presence of the plateau, we (The EPA) would not have any stake in this land.”
The EPA’s stake means pressure on the former manufacturer, WR Grace, to clean up the contamination, allowing the public safe use of the parkland. Failing that, Stilman says EPA Superfund dollars are appropriate for this site, which he called a Legacy Vermiculite Site, one of dozens around the country currently being assessed by the EPA. The news left DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader enthusiastic for the future of Zonolite Park. When Stilman said the EPA will design the remedy, neighbor Mike Morton asked if the community would be included in the design. Commissioner Rader said “Yes. I can make that clear, since we own the land.”
“We want a good design, using this flood plain for protecting the creek and allowing the public safe access to a sensitive piece of Piedmont woodland for trails and recreation,” says Sally Sears, chair of the South Fork Conservancy.
Rich Sussman, Environmental Coordinator of the Lindbergh-LaVista Corridor Coalition, believes the news is positive for neighbors eager for more green space close to their homes and businesses. The two organizations lead community work days helping to create trails along the south and north forks of Peachtree Creek, from Lindbergh Drive to Johnson Road.
More samples from the plateau are in EPA hands, taken Monday, December 6, 2010. Stilman says the EPA will analyze the results, and determine a method of reducing the risk by mid-January, 2011.
More information at: www.epaosc.org/VermiculiteExpansionWRGraceAtlantaGAO144
EPA information officer: firstname.lastname@example.org Reported by Sally Sears, Chair of the South Fork Conservancy
Join us for a meeting convened by DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader at a public meeting to discuss the results of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent testing for contaminants in the county parkland at Zonolite and the South Fork of Peachtree Creek.
Neighbors and groups interested in trail building and public garden planning are invited.
Hear what we can hope for the restoration of this important floodplain in the South Fork Watershed.
Dr. Francis Kung’U, head of DeKalb County Watershed Department
Terry Stilman, EPA on-site coordinator
Jeff Rader, DeKalb County Commissioner
7-8 PM Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1438 Sheridan Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
For more details, Debbie Schneider in Jeff Rader’s office at email@example.com.
David R. Kaufman’s journey down Atlanta’s forgotten waterway This report was prepared by Ken Edelstein, with assistance from Joeff Davis, Samantha Simon and Tammy Vinson.Online production by Alejandro Leal.
John Wesley Powell had the Colorado. Lewis and Clark explored the Missouri. For Henry Morton Stanley, it was the Nile.
David R. Kaufman set his sights a bit more modestly. Since he moved to Atlanta as a kid in 1971, Kaufman wanted to uncover the mysteries of Peachtree Creek, a neglected stream that drains the northern half of Atlanta.
Now he’s completed his voyage of discovery. Throughout the 1990s – sometimes with a friend, most often alone – Kaufman descended the North and South forks of Peachtree Creek, as well as some of its tributaries.
What he found by canoe and on foot, and what he recorded with a 4-by-5 camera, was a stream whose rich history and natural beauty has largely been pushed aside by roads, buildings, garbage, pollution – by a city that turned its back on what could be a magnificent resource. Yet remnants of that history and beauty remain.
Kaufman shares his journey in a book, Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta’s Watershed (University of Georgia Press, 2007).
Here are some photos and excerpts. Next