While bloodshed and friction between Georgia law enforcement and “Defend the Atlanta Forest" activists has boiled into national news this month, greenspace conservationists were taking stock of more positive and peaceful gains throughout the year that was.
Thanks to several high-profile parks and greenspace “wins” across 2022, the City of Atlanta was able to acquire and protect 260 acres of new greenspace. That marks one of the largest annual increases in the history of Atlanta, according to nonprofit The Conservation Fund, which partners with the city to boost its parks portfolio.
That’s nearly the size of Chastain Park—Atlanta’s largest finished park And it’s a 650 percent increase over what the city gains in greenspace during a typical year, 40 acres.
According to The Conservation Fund, four notable greenspace acquisitions and openings in 2022 stood out:
• A 180-acre tree canopy acquisition near Camp Creek Parkway. That was the second project to utilize the city’s new Tree Trust Fund program, which Trees Atlanta estimates has already saved 250,000 trees total around the city.
• The headline-grabbing protection of the former, historic Chattahoochee Brick Company site in northwest Atlanta—a culturally important, riverside property that recently seemed destined to become a train terminal.
• Also in northwest Atlanta, the collective 17-acre purchase of properties in Riverside that will create the city’s first public access to the Chattahoochee River with Lower Paul Park.
• And the official October opening of Mattie Freeland Park, an English Avenue greenspace named for a late, beloved neighborhood matriarch.
Why so many green victories in a single year?
Conservation Fund officials attribute the banner year to their long-term partnership with the city and new funding sources that are becoming available, such as the Tree Trust Fund, which earlier allowed for the protection of 218-acre Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve—a section of the city’s largest remaining forest, near the planned site of so-called “Cop City.”
A third factor, per Conservation Fund officials, as stated in an announcement this week: “Mayor [Andre] Dickens has delivered on his first-year pledge to form a Greenspace Advisory Council and enhance Atlanta’s greenspace protection and access city-wide.”
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• Across Atlanta, park upgrades announced for 25 neighborhoods (Urbanize Atlanta)