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From the September Newsletter (9.28.15)
Earlier this month, a team of EPA hydrologists and soil scientists visited Proctor Creek as part of the national Urban Soils Assessment, a research initiative aimed at informing green infrastructure development. The team collected soil cores at 13 locations in the watershed and used specialized tools to measure how water moves into and through the soil. Little is known about urban soils, and the goal of the research is to characterize urban soils and help city planners design green infrastructure to address environmental challenges related to stormwater. While they were in town, the researchers also visited a 4th grade class at M. Agnes Jones Elementary, a group of 2nd graders from Woodson Elementary, a group of Clark Atlanta students, and Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps to discuss hydrology and soils. In total, the research team has collected samples and tested soil hydrology in 11 cities around the country and plans to use the information they gather to: (1) provide soil management options that support successful use of parks and green spaces for green infrastructure; (2) assist city planners in creating healthier, more sustainable communities; and (3) offer guidance on using green infrastructure to visually enhance city landscapes and improve quality of life for city residents and visitors. For more information about the Urban Soils Assessment click here.
On the first Friday of every month, residents from northwest Atlanta communities surrounding Proctor Creek come together to discuss the watershed. This resident-led forum, called the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, creates an opportunity for watershed residents to learn about Proctor Creek and plan activities that promote their mission: to restore, revitalize, and protect the ecological health of the Proctor Creek watershed and the quality of life of all its people. The Stewardship Council was first formed in the fall of 2013 through a collaboration of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Community Improvement Association, and ECO-Action. Since then, they have attracted the attention of numerous government agencies and partner organizations and empowered residents to engage in Proctor Creek. Approaching their second year in operation, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council formally registered as a nonprofit organization this month, helping institutionalize their efforts and strengthen their capacity. The Council is currently developing their strategic plan for the next 3 years and encourages anyone living or working in the watershed to attend a meeting or contact one of their co-chairs (Na’Taki Osborne Jelks – 404-825-3872 and Tony Torrence – 678-663-1858). Visit their website by clicking here.
Vegetable gardens are popping up around the upper watershed neighborhoods as a new community gardening program begins to grow. The program, called Gardens’ Link Empower Neighborhoods, or “GLEN,” began in June with a focus on helping residents establish vegetable gardens at their homes. So far, four new gardens have been established at residents’ houses and apartment complexes and a new community herb garden has been established. To help coach the new gardeners on keeping their plants healthy and productive, GLEN’s Rosario Hernandez stops by the home gardens once a week to answer questions and share tips. The GLEN program is an initiative of Historic Westside Gardens, a community nonprofit established in 2009 to address disinvestment and food security while acting as an incubator for urban farmers in Vine City and English Avenue. Through GLEN, the new home gardeners are linked to Historic Westside Gardens’ two community training gardens located at 280 Elm Street and at 104 Vine Street where they learn urban farming techniques from experienced growers. Historic Westside Gardens plans to help establish two additional home gardens through the GLEN program by the end of the year. For more information about GLEN, click here or contact Gil Frank at 404-308-1899. (photo courtesy of the GLEN project)
From the August Newsletter (8.20.15)
Thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Proctor Creek is about to get two new US Geological Survey (USGS) water monitoring stations. The new stations will gather ongoing hydrology data from the creek including precipitation, gage height (aka water level) and discharge (aka flow rate). USGS currently operates one monitoring station in Proctor Creek at James Jackson Parkway, and they are working with USEPA to identify locations for the two new stations. Data from USGS’s water monitoring sites are collected every 15 minutes and posted in real time on the agency’s website. The data is used for a wide array of things ranging from assessing long-term water flow trends to issuing weather warnings during storm events. Information gathered by water monitoring stations in Proctor Creek could even help measure the effectiveness of future interventions implemented to manage stormwater. The two new stations are expected to be installed by October. In the meantime, for current data from the station on Jackson Parkway, click here.
From the July Newsletter (7.9.15)
In early June, the Center for Watershed Protection and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance hosted a training with eight Citizen Scientists in Proctor Creek on how to identify potential pollution sources in the watershed. The group learned to look for potential pollution sources on land using “Hot Spot” field forms and in the water by looking for signs of contamination at locations where stormwater enters the creek. City of Atlanta staff also joined the group and shared information about the City’s process for inspecting properties for potential pollution sources and how citizens can report any problems they may find in the watershed. These groups will continue to work together to improve reporting forms and empower watershed residents to more easily identify and report pollution sources in Proctor Creek. The initiative is one of three Proctor Creek projects selected last year for funding through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters grant program. For more information about identifying sources of urban watershed pollution and other resources, visit the Center for Watershed Protection’s resource library by clicking here. (photos by Deb Caraco)
The City of Atlanta is helping facilitate redevelopment of brownfield sites in Proctor Creek and 12 other priority areas through a recently launched Brownfields Assessment Program. Brownfields are properties whose redevelopment is hindered by the presence – or potential presence – of environmental contamination due to past industrial or commercial use. Common examples include closed gas stations, dry cleaners, or industrial facilities. Under the Brownfield Assessment Program, the city will provide no-cost Environmental Site Assessments for select brownfield properties, with a focus on sites that will be redeveloped in the near-term and will serve as catalysts for further redevelopment within the city’s priority areas. Nominations for sites to be assessed are being accepted on a rolling basis, with the first round due on July 31, 2015. To complete a nomination form, which includes details on site eligibility,click here. For more information and to visit the program’s website, click here. The program is funded with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program and will end on September 30, 2016.
will Feature Green Infrastructure Elements
From the May Newsletter (5.5.15)
This Earth Day, forty-five people donned boots and work gloves and spent the afternoon in Proctor Creek near Boyd Elementary School, removing litter and invasive plants. The work day was co-organized by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Community Improvement Association, Park Pride, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. The groups were joined by Build-Up and the Turner Foundation for the afternoon. In total, the team pulled out over 750 lbs of trash, cut back English Ivy, removed Chinese Privet plants, and chatted with elementary students about the watershed. Many saw wildlife including fish, tadpoles, snakes, butterflies, crayfish, and birds while they were working, and it was a beautiful day in the creek. To see more photos, click here
The City of Atlanta has been selected to receive a $280k grant from the National Park Service to help establish a new 9.2 acre park on Proctor Creek near the Bankhead MARTA station. The park will be built through a collaboration between the City, The Trust for Public Land and the Emerald Corridor Foundation, who have hosted many visitors to the site over the last few years. Phase I of the park is expected to include a pedestrian and bike trail, benches, adult fitness stations, children’s play stations and unstructured spaces for picnicking and play. Emerald Corridor Foundation Executive Director, Debra Edelson explained that once the necessarry funding and permitting steps are complete, the City, Emerald Corridor and Trust for Public Land plan to further engage community members to determine the park’s final design. Once established, the new park would be the first in a series of projects to create the Proctor Creek Greenway, an initiative to create a continuous greenspace along Proctor Creek from Maddox Park to the Chattahoochee River. For a full press release from the City of Atlanta click here
From the April Newsletter (4.7.15)
Thirty-two residents from the the upper watershed neighborhoods of Vine City and English Avenue have been hard at work in their
communities through a new workforce development program called Build-Up, founded through a partnership of GA Stand-Up, Community Improvement Association and the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. The initiative focuses on helping people, who have been unemployed for several years, reenter the workforce. Participants gain experience and certifications in topics that include jobsite safety, deconstruction, CPR/First Aid, and more. Among their projects, the Build-Up team has cleaned stormwater catch basins, collected hundreds of pounds of trash and tires, and marked stormdrain manhole covers with stickers that say, “No Dumping – Drains to Stream.” For more information about Build-Up and their work, click here. (Photo by Tony Torrence)
Every Thursday, second graders from Westside Atlanta Charter School (WACS) take a water sample from Proctor Creek as part of the Neighborhood Water Watch (NWW) program. The students began sampling the creek in 2013 with the help of parent and NWW volunteer Jessa Boutte. Every week, Jessa takes a group of students to collect a sample from the creek and brings it to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for testing. The experience helps students learn about environmental science, and their data is a great resource for monitoring the health of Proctor Creek. So far, the students’ data has already helped identify and stop a sewer spill that occurred last year. Using the students’ data, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper was able to find the spill and alert the Department of Watershed Management who fixed the problem. A wad of “flushable” wipes had clogged a sewer line upstream causing it to overflow (video here). The student-scientists will continue to track water quality in Proctor Creek as part of an ongoing project curriculum through their eighth grade year. Be sure to check out their data any time at: www.chattahoochee.org/nww (Scroll down and click “Proctor Creek at Kerry Circle”)
From the February Newsletter (2.26.15)
Neighborhood groups have been hard at work improving their parks in the Proctor Creek watershed. In the Lincoln Homes neighborhood, the Friends of Lillian Cooper Shepherd Park secured a grant from Park Pride and worked with the City Department of Parks to install brand new playground and exercise equipment. The Friends of group is also planning a park workday and ribbon cutting event in April.Meanwhile, in the Carey Park neighborhood, neighbors have been working to improve a forgotten park that was brought to the attention of the City Parks Department last fall. Neighbors have formed the Friends of Watkins Park and secured a NPU grant to hire a troupe of goats and clear invasive plants that had overtaken the park. The group is next planning to add a park bench near a MARTA stop by the park and is enthusiastic to make future improvements. (Photo by Keith Sharp)
Earlier this month, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) held a public hearing to collect comments on a draft permit for the City’s combined stormwater and sewer systems (CSS). Mandated by the Clean Water Act, the permit sets requirements on the treatment and release of water from the City’s combined sewer system into waterways. Many organizations working in Proctor Creek shared comments at the hearing and in writing including: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, ECO-Action, Metro Atlanta Urban Watershed Institute, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. Examples of recommendations made at the hearing include ensuring that the revised permit uses consistent terminology, that it clearly defines how overflow events will be measured, and that it includes provisions to notify downstream users if an unpermitted release occurs. Now that the public comment period for the permit has closed, EPD staff are reviewing comments while making any necessary revisions to the draft.
From the January Newsletter (1.7.15)
On November 22, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance,Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, and others hosted the first Proctor Creek River Rendezvous. Over 70 volunteers met at the Grove Park Recreation Center, learned about water sampling, and set out in teams to measure water quality at more than 40 locations throughout the watershed.The event was an opportunity for groups and volunteers to connect, explore the watershed, and learn how to collect and test water samples. Data from the Rendezvous will be used to take a one-day “snapshot” of water quality in Proctor Creek and its streams and tributaries. River Rendezvous participants and others will come together again early this year to review the day’s findings.
The Proctor Creek Community Collaborative Health Survey has brought citizen scientists together with public health researchers to look at indoor air quality in homes in Vine City and English Avenue. In early December, community researchers and Emory public health professionals shared findings from the project at the Higher Ground Empowerment Center in Vine City. Among survey findings, the team identified mold inside homes as a potential health threat to residents. The group has scheduled a follow-up meeting on Jan 22 to discuss actions to prevent and reduce mold (details on calendar below). The health survey is a collaborative project of the HERCULES Center at Emory’s School of Public Health and ECO-Action, with involvement from residents of English Avenue and Vine City, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Community Improvement Association, and many other partners. Survey findings are available by clicking here. Further information about the collaborative is available by clicking here.
From the November Newsletter (11.21.14)
At the end of October, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Community Improvement Association, and community researchers kicked off the Proctor Creek Watershed Photo Mapping Project. Through the project, ten community researchers have been trained in digital storytelling and are now capturing photographs from around the watershed using the PhotoVoice method. In the next phase of the research, participants will identify and map neighborhood-level environmental health indicators. Through this project, community researchers are working to elevate the watershed’s strengths and assets and initiate critical dialogue on environmental and human health challenges and needed policy changes. The Proctor Creek Watershed Photo Mapping Project is funded in part by the Georgia River Network, the Emory University HERCULES Environmental Health Research Center, and Environmental Community Action (Eco-Action). (photo by Na’Taki Osborne-Jelks)
Located on Lawton Street in the West End, the Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Center is dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system through public service, education, and research. A model for urban food production, the Agro-Ecology Center sells produce to Atlanta restaurants, and the farm itself serves Proctor Creek by acting as a vegetative buffer, increasing water infiltration, and slowing erosion. The Center’s permaculture techniques also improve soil health, water retention, and overall agricultural yields. Earlier in November, a group of students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy visited the Agro-Ecology Center and had a chance to participate in ecological restoration efforts onsite and learn about food justice within the Proctor Creek Watershed. The farm is managed by Eugene Cooke, Nicole Bluh, Imran Battla, and community volunteers. For more information visit facebook.com/GoodShepherdAgroEcology (photo provided by Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology)
On November 6, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 Office of Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Water Protection Division, and Brownfields program facilitated a strategy session on communications in the Proctor Creek Watershed. The meeting was the beginning of a process to strengthen communication and coordination of activities in the watershed among residents, NGOs, academic institutions, government representatives, and other leaders. For more information about this ongoing conversation on strengthening communication and building partnerships in the watershed, contact email@example.com
From the October Newsletter (10.31.14)
The Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps (AYC) has been hard at work in the Proctor Creek Watershed lately. AYC’s Westside Crew, contracted by The Conservation Fund and Park Pride, will help beautify Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park and increase the visibility of Proctor Creek in Maddox Park. The initiative is part of Greening Youth’s work to nurture environmental stewardship among youth and young adults, and expose them to conservation careers. Through the Atlanta Youth Corps, youth gain training in urban conservation, agriculture, construction, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship while working on projects in the neighborhoods where they live. To learn more about the Atlanta Youth Corps and the Greening Youth Foundation, visit:http://www.gyfoundation.org
In July, ECO-Action received an Urban Waters Small Grant from EPA to develop a green infrastructure curriculum with Clark Atlanta. Through the initiative, ECO-Action is working with Clark Atlanta Professors Olu Olatidoye and Charles Richardson, to incorporate principles of green infrastructure into their respective Environmental Engineering and Consumer Behavior classes, with a special focus on stormwater management. So far, around 52 students have been engaged in the curriculum, and ECO-Action has conducted further outreach to extracurricular student groups. The curriculum is designed to be interactive, and students will have an opportunity to learn directly from Proctor Creek community leaders and residents. For more info, visit: http://eco-act.org (photo by Lynne Young)
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