Recap: Atlanta BeltLine Earth Day 2013

Keep Atlanta Beautiful, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. spearheaded this year’s successful Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine. With additional support from Park Pride, the Atlanta Community ToolBank, District 2 City Council Member Kwanza Hall, and neighborhood partners, over 300 volunteers tirelessly planted 1.5 acres of native grasses (roughly 20,000 individual grass plugs), hauled half a dump truck’s worth of compost, and pulled out enough asphalt and debris to fill up a pick-up truck.

View the Earth Day photo gallery.

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine 2013
Volunteers distribute buckets of grass plugs along the Eastside Trail.

Volunteers were divided up into six zones stretching from N. Highland Avenue north to Angier Springs, just south of North Avenue. Teams of two to three volunteer worked to plant buckets full of plugs within carefully plotted boxes painted on the ground using bamboo “measuring sticks” for spacing. At least a dozen different species of young native grass and wildflower shoots are now rooting along the Eastside Trail. Fence installation teams pounded posts up and down the trail and lined the newly planted beds with teal construction fencing (fencing will stay up about six months – long enough for the grasses to establish). A smaller group dedicated themselves to carting and spreading pounds of compost over tilled earth.

Read more about the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail native grass planting.

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine 2013
Spread out over 1.5 acres, volunteers planted 20,000 native grass plugs, as seen here near “Three Tree Hill.”

The morning kicked off with an introduction to the projects for the day and the presentation of a giant check to Keep Atlanta Beautiful. As a sign of appreciation for all of their efforts around the city, Waste Management donated $4,000 to Keep Atlanta Beautiful to further their mission.

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine 2013
Waste Management donated $4,000 to the non-profit Keep Georgia Beautiful, who distributed funds to organizations like Keep Atlanta Beautiful and other partners in support of Earth Day events across the state.

All in all, 20 percent of the total area slated for planting this spring was accomplished in one day. This Earth Day (our seventh one!) called for significant preparation. Trees Atlanta staff spray painted blue boxes on the dirt for the various species of grasses and wildflowers; they counted out the correct number of grass plugs for each species and placed them into big black buckets; they cut dozens of “measuring sticks” out of bamboo to give volunteers a fool-proof way to space out the plants; and they marked each of the black buckets with the proper species and zone for planting.

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine 2013
The thankless job of spreading fragrant compost.

Want to see how it’s all coming along? The weather is perfect for getting out and checking out the trail! Whether you’re on the trail daily or haven’t yet visited, the sights change every day. Please be mindful of the construction fencing, which will stay up for approximately six months in order for the grasses and wildflowers to properly root. You will also see white irrigation pipes running the length of the trail and Trees Atlanta trucks out watering. All of this is in support of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, which will ultimately ring the entire 22 miles of the project.

You can also take a volunteer docent-led tour of the Eastside Trail every Friday and Saturday morning – just sign up on!

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine 2013
Volunteers wrapping up after a morning filled with grass plugs!

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