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Grant Park Conservancy’s New Year Off to a Great Start

Proud volunteers before the tree wall they erected

A view of the tree wall in Grant Park

By Alisa Chambers
Both Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and General Beauregard Lee here in Georgia did what the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) was hoping they would do: saw their shadow! Now, according to these weather-predicting groundhogs, we should see an early spring.
There is nothing better than a park in springtime, and after this winter, it cannot come soon enough. In fact, we did not even wait for spring to begin projects in Grant Park. Already, the GPC has initiated and completed two volunteer-based projects that are setting us up for a wonderful year of service in 2011.
On January 9, the GPC participated for its 10th year in the annual “Bring One for the Chipper” event that occurs around the city. At most locations, people bring their undecorated Christmas trees to be tossed in a wood chipper. The mulch is then distributed to various organizations for many different uses.
At Grant Park, we do something a little different with the trees we receive. We do not use a chipper but instead use the intact trees as erosion control along steep embankments. This year, we received 285 trees and lined them along the top of the hillside behind the bandstand. This created a “tree fence,” forming both a sturdy barrier and a habitat for small animals and birds. People like knowing they can visit their Christmas tree in the park, long after the holidays are over. Plus, the aromatic pine scent is a pleasant greeting when you walk up the hill.
Then, on January 17, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, GPC hosted 40 volunteers from Turner Broadcasting and around the neighborhood for another erosion control project. Since we received so many trees from the Chipper event, we decided to move several to a steep hillside in the park, known as Constitution Springs.
The volunteers worked tirelessly, first removing invasive ivy and then staking down the trees along the side of the hill. In addition to that project, a group of volunteers with small children spent the morning spreading mulch on the much-loved Children’s Playground, filling in bare spots and generally beautifying the area.
The GPC is starting off strong for the New Year, with more projects to be scheduled throughout 2011. If you are interested in volunteering with the GPC, please visit our website at www.gpconservancy.org, click on “How You Can Help” and then “Volunteer.” We hope to see you in the park!

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