Looking Back at 2020: A Breath for Piedmont Park

In most ways, 2020 was a bleak year for Atlanta, our country and our world.  COVID-19 jumbled our daily routines and daily pleasures.

While 2020 will be forever known for its challenges and disruptions, one of the bright discoveries last year was the deep recognition of the value of our public parks. For Atlanta, Piedmont Park remained open throughout the entire year for anyone to come and escape their homes, exercise and connect with nature and other people, all at a safe distance.

Piedmont Park remained a top destination in 2020, but in many ways the Park looked different. Instead of visitors flocking from all over to attend one of the many festivals, our neighbors, residents and local explorers re-discovered this beautiful, passive greenspace. We saw more roller skates, picnic blankets and kites, the classic items that pull our heartstrings and inspire us to play. Visitors did not necessarily congregate in any one area, and the impact on the grounds were minimal.

The Park is known for the plethora of activities and events it provides to our city. Some festivals attract upwards to 100,000 people while many others are much smaller. However, cumulative wear and tear occurs when events are set up in the same areas week after week.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy and the City took advantage of the break in events to deep clean and rehabilitate some of the worn areas to both improve the visual appeal and resiliency of the grounds, particularly for the more trafficked areas in the Meadow and Oak Hill. The timing and execution of aeration, fertilization, mowing and other maintenance tasks were based on ideal horticulture and agronomy schedules instead of avoiding events. Many of the areas that had been worn down to dirt are once again covered with beautiful Hybrid Bermuda grass.

The weather also made a big impact. In contrast to the distress of so many other parts of 2020, the weather was near perfect for improving the grounds. Rainfall came in intervals that was frequent enough, but not too much at one time. Thunderstorms helped with nitrogen fixation which is nature’s way of helping to fertilize the Park.

This past year, I have been struck by the physical beauty of Piedmont Park.  The beautiful condition of Piedmont Park is stunning, maybe the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The Conservancy has been able to cultivate Piedmont Park’s landscape in a way we never have before. We hope 2020 will serve as a case study of how beautiful and valuable Piedmont Park’s greenspace can be when provided proper recovery, great weather and a lot of love. Even in festival use areas, proper land rest and turf recovery periods can help the Park stay vibrant and green all year.

Parks are not passive investments, they’re active investments. The festivals and events will eventually come back. We will see a day, maybe not so far away, where Piedmont Park once again attracts festivals, concerts and other large events. We will use what we learned this past year to work with our friends at the City on caring for Piedmont Park for both events and our local citizens. We are proud to be a city partner and know that when conservancies and government work together, public spaces will thrive.

Until then, we are thankful to see Piedmont Park experience a much needed rest, while also serving such a critical role in our daily lives.

Author: Mark Banta, President/CEO, Piedmont Park Conservancy

Learn more about the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Fourteen New Trees Planted in Piedmont Park

Thanks to the Georgia ReLeaf grant from the Georgia Tree Council, Piedmont Park Conservancy was able to plant 14 new native trees this past December 2020. Trees provide a plethora of benefits including heat reduction, cleaner air and habitats for wildlife. We thank everyone involved as it was truly a collaborative effort.

“Thank you City of Atlanta Arborists, Piedmont Park Conservancy and Trees Atlanta for all your good work. What a lovely way to round out a horribly challenging year.  Your commitment to our beloved park and city is inspiring. Citizens like me really appreciate it and couldn’t ask for a better holiday gift!” – Rita

All 14 trees came from Redbone Nurseries and were 2-3” caliper, balled and burlapped.

  • White Oak, Quercus alba
  • Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea
  • Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus michauxii
  • Cherrybark Oak, Quercus pagodafolia
  • Silverbell, Large Flowered, Halesia diptera magniflora (3)
  • Blackgum, Nyssa sylvatica ‘Green Gable’ (2)
  • Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ (1)
  • Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera (4)

 

Why We Counted Over 500 Trees in Piedmont Park

Seeing the leaves change color in Piedmont Park was the best part of my first Atlanta autumn. It’s that time once again, and now I know a bit more about those leaves and the trees they came from! You see, one of my primary roles as a graduate intern for Piedmont Park Conservancy is to help document every single tree in the Park. If you think that sounds like a lot of trees, just wait till you start counting!

How we counted over 500 trees in Piedmont Park

Morgan Gobeli, 2020 Graduate Public Relations Intern, Lead with Green

How Many Trees are in Piedmont Park?

All that counting isn’t just for fun though, it’s part of Piedmont Park’s mission to become a certified Arboretum. As part of the certification, all our trees must be documented. Our Community Involvement and Events Manager Erica Glasener, with the help of Trees Atlanta, has been instrumental in spearheading this ambitious project. To get it done, a small team of volunteers and I use a custom mapping program called ArcGIS Survey123 to input the GPS location of each tree, identify the species and size of the tree, and note any health issues it may have. So far, I have personally counted over 500 trees in this manner, and there’s still plenty more to go!

How we counted over 500 trees in Piedmont Park

Maintaining a Healthy Urban Forest

When it’s finished, not only will our map tell us how many trees we have, it will also tell us how many species we have in the Park. Having a wide range and distribution of species is important for a healthy urban forest, so this is great information! The map will also allow us to monitor tree health, and to track pest and disease outbreaks. We can even upload pictures of diseased leaves for a faster diagnosis! So, the next time you’re in the Park, take a moment to stop and appreciate all those beautiful trees. You can even give one a hug if you want (they won’t mind)!

If you would like to learn more about our Park projects, recognitions and environmental management, visit our Lead with Green page.

Author: Morgan Gobeli

Combining Art and Safety in Six Feet

Learn about each of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s social distancing circles.

We all know one of the golden rules: stay six feet apart. Though, over time it can become difficult to remember to distance in addition to understanding exactly how far six feet really is. Piedmont Park Conservancy’s team came up with a creative and bold way to remind Park visitors of this important guideline to keep us all safe.

Six different six-feet circles can now be found all throughout Piedmont Park. Unveiling paintings of butterflies, herons and more, these circles serve as both a preventative health measure and artistic display. Learn more about each circle below.

Honeybee

Scientific name: Apis mellifera

The honeybee is Georgia’s state insect! Aside from producing honey and beeswax, it is also a valuable pollinator that humans (and plants!) rely on to thrive. You can spot native bees throughout the Park – especially in the Commons and near our Education Garden. 

Leading Artist: Kasey Sorel

Bald Eagle

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The bald eagle has an impressive wingspan that can range from 6 to 8 feet. These birds of prey also construct nests that can be up to 13 feet deep! They are notoriously known for being used as a national symbol for the United States.
Leading Artist: Grace Yund

Great Blue Heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias

These blue-grey birds have an average wingspan of 6 feet and are frequently found near bodies of water or other wetlands. They enjoy nesting high up in trees but are known for being superb fishers.Take a stroll around Lake Clara Meer and you might catch a glimpse of one, as this bird can commonly be spotted in the Park!
Leading Artist: Whitney Hendrix

Swallowtail Butterfly

Scientific name: Papilionidae

The swallowtail butterfly is Georgia’s state butterfly. Their blue and yellow coloring is striking and helps identify them! These pollinators start out as caterpillars and go through metamorphosis to play an important role in our ecosystem later on.
Leading Artist: Whitney Hendrix

Corn Snake

Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus

Corn snakes can reach lengths of 2 to 6 feet.They are recognizable by their coloring – full of browns, oranges, reds, and yellows. These snakes are not venomous and are important due to their help with controlling rodent populations. 

Leading Artist: Juliana De La Rosa

[This circle is still in development. We will update once it is ready!]

Dogwood, Tulip Poplar, and White Oak Leaves

Scientific names: Cornus florida, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus alba

All of these different types of trees can be found throughout Piedmont Park! Our Park has an incredible range of diversity when it comes to trees. Each type of tree goes through changes as the seasons pass and also provide a habitat for critters small and large. Check out our virtual tree tours or use our walking tour guide to check them out for yourself!
Leading Artist: Kaycee Walker

Cherokee Rose

Scientific name: Rosa laevigata

The Cherokee Rose is Georgia’s state flower and can be found statewide. The flower is named after the Cherokee indian tribe. The flowers bloom in the springtime and the white petals have a velvety texture.
Leading Artist: Kaycee Walker

Do you love these beautiful social distancing circles? Consider donating to the Piedmont Park Conservancy and check out @PiedmontLearns on Instagram!

Piedmont Park Conservancy Receives 25 Recycling Bins from Keep America/Coca-Cola Public Spaces Recycling Bin Grant

Keep America Beautiful® and The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded the Piedmont Park Conservancy 25 new recycling bins as part of the Coca-Cola Public Spaces Recycling Bin Grant Program. The Program aims to promote recycling in public spaces throughout Atlanta.

“As Atlanta’s crown jewel, it is vital for Piedmont Park to set a high standard in green efforts such as recycling. Therefore, we are proud and grateful to receive recycling bins from Keep America Beautiful and The Coca Cola Foundation,” says Mark Banta, President and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. “The new bins are an integral part of our continuous mission to maintain the Park’s pristine nature.”


For the past 13 years, The Coca-Cola Foundation has supported the Public Spaces Recycling Bin Grant Program, which has donated recycling bins to more than 1,000 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Over the history of the program, more than 37,000 public space recycling bins have been awarded, providing opportunities for recycling on the go to more than two million people daily.

Grant recipients are chosen by Keep America Beautiful based on their potential to collect cans and bottles, as well as other factors such as creating or expanding access to recycling; providing exposure or access to collection bins; providing access in environmentally sensitive areas; and the potential of recycling efforts to increase recycling participation in the community. A full list of this year’s Coca-Cola Public Space Recycling Bin Grant recipients is available at bingrant.org.

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About Piedmont Park Conservancy
The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $3 million each year to enhance and maintain the park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

About Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful strives to End Littering, Improve Recycling and Beautify America’s Communities. We believe everyone has a right to live in a clean, green and beautiful community, and shares a responsibility to contribute to that vision. Behavior change – steeped in education, research and behavioral science – is the cornerstone of Keep America Beautiful. We empower generations of community and environmental stewards with volunteer programs, hands-on experiences, educational curricula, practical advice and other resources. The organization is driven by the work and passion of more than 600 Keep America Beautiful affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the collaborative support of corporate partners, social and civic service organizations, academia, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Donate and take action at kab.org.

About the Coca Cola Foundation
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, The Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. For more information about The Coca-Cola Foundation, please visit: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/foundation.

Media Contact: Amy Han Risher
Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: arisher@piedmontpark.org
P: (404) 480-3758

Piedmont Park Feeds the Gorillas, Elephants and More at Zoo Atlanta

The next time you go to Zoo Atlanta pay attention to what some of the animals are eating. You might recognize some of the food as plants you see at Piedmont Park.

You heard us right! The heart of downtown Atlanta is now a food source for the animals that live in Zoo Atlanta. 

Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta

A few weeks ago, a staff member from Zoo Atlanta reached out to the Piedmont Park Conservancy to let us know about their Browse Program. The Zoo collects browse, leafy plants that many animals use as food in their natural habitats, from a few other businesses and parks around Atlanta. Our friends at the Zoo thought Piedmont Park could be a great source of these plants. 

It turns out that they were right! After a visit to the Park, Zoo Atlanta let us know that some of the plant species found in Piedmont Park would qualify as browse. Some examples include privet, bush honeysuckle, and elaeagnus, all invasive species that are regularly removed from the Park. It is worth noting that vines like english ivy can actually be poisonous to the animals. 

Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, Piedmont Park is able to provide about eight to 10 bags of these plants to the Zoo on a regular basis. Since the Park is so large, we are able to be a consistent source of these materials for the Zoo, and the Conservancy will continue to supply the Zoo with browse for the foreseeable future. 

The next time you visit Zoo Atlanta, pay special attention to the Gorillas, Elephants, Zebras, and monkeys you might recognize their snack! 

Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta

Want to help? Volunteer or donate to the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Over 70 Trees Planted in Piedmont Park

With a rapidly increasing population in Atlanta, fighting negative environmental impacts can seem impossible. However, the solution to this issue can be found in Piedmont Park: trees.

To prepare for the increase in visitors that spring brings, the Piedmont Park Conservancy has been hard at work over the past two months to ensure that the Park stays green and gorgeous for all. After collaborating with Trees Atlanta, Grady High School and our own staff and board members, 74 new trees were planted on Oak Hill, the Meadow and in the Dog Parks. These trees will help keep the Park cooler during the warm spring and summer months, remove pollution from the air and be a home for native birds and other pollinators.

Urban trees provide a multitude of benefits for all Park visitors including clean air, shade in the summer, a food source for pollinators and  a connection to a place and time. Newly planted trees offer hope for the future, and mature trees that live for 100 years act as historical markers for time and events. – Erica Glasener, Community Involvement and Events Manager

The Piedmont Park Conservancy is looking forward to continuing our dedication to providing a green space that is clean, safe and beautiful. However, we cannot do it alone. Your donation supports our efforts and keeps historic Piedmont Park clean, green and active.

The Greenbuild Conference Tours the Six Springs Wetlands

On Nov. 18, attendees of the Greenbuild Conference, the largest annual event for green building professionals worldwide, stopped by Piedmont Park to tour the Six Springs Wetlands and its unique stormwater management.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase the work that Piedmont Park Conservancy has done,” Howard Wertheimer, VP and COO, said. “Not only do we have the Wetlands, but we also have Greystone as a LEED certified building.”

The tour was led by Chris Nelson, former VP and COO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy until 2014. Conservancy staff members also joined the tour, which highlighted the innovative techniques used during the stream and wetland restoration of the Six Springs.

“Out of all the projects I have had the opportunity to work on, the restoration of Clear Creek and its accompanying tributaries and springs was my favorite,” Nelson said.

The Wetlands were taken over by kudzu and other invasive plants, until the North Woods Expansion Stream Restoration project took place in 2008 during the Park expansion.

The tour was attended by people from across the United States and the globe including California, New York, Philadelphia, Ohio, Georgia, Japan, France and London.

“Before the restoration began, it appeared to be just an ordinary overgrown mess of kudzu and other invasive plants,” Nelson said. “With the removal of the invasives, tons of discarded debris and the daylighting of the springs, it is now considered to be one of the premier areas for birding and for experiencing and connecting with nature in the Park. For me, it’s that hidden gem waiting to be explored.”

The system was formerly a concrete flume that was replaced with large boulders, imitating natural channel design techniques. The group observed and walked over the rocks, circling back to the bridge that rises above the Park.

“The Park contains an incredible wetland eco-system made up of a number of underground springs that continue to feed Lake Clara Meer and contribute to the flow of Clear Creek,” Nelson said. “A large number of these springs can be seen in the designated Six Springs area behind Magnolia Hall.  Its unique water system supports the most diverse plant and animal life found in the park and Midtown.”

During the tour, the group heard the city of Atlanta: People jogging, people on scooters and dogs barking wedged between the ecosystem that the Park has preserved over the last 30 years, making Piedmont Park the true green heart of Atlanta.

If you’re interested in scheduling a tour, you can email tours@piedmontpark.org. The Park hosts free historical tours at 11 a.m. on Saturdays during the Green Market until November 30th.

If you are interested in supporting the Park, you learn more about membership at piedmontpark.org/membership.

Author: Jessica Vue

Move over Weeds, We ‘Goat’ This

What’s goating on here? If you’ve been to Piedmont Park recently, you may have spotted goats! No need to worry-they are here on purpose. In an effort to clear the Park of overgrown shrubs and invasive species, the Piedmont Park Conservancy introduced goats as a more organic, sustainable option.

We had fun following the goats on their journey!

When the goats first arrived at Piedmont Park, many guests were thrilled to see them. Look at those horns!

All types of goats were used to help with this restoration project. Mostly, the goats were either Boar or Kikos.

The goats were free to eat as much grass as their four stomachs could take. They eat approximately five to seven pounds a day!

Also, there are dogs! Although the goats were fenced in, these two siblings made sure they had extra protection. Meet Bowie and Trudy.

Strike a pose! Who knew goats were so photogenic? We captured this quick picture while the goats were on a break.

Drink up! The goats frequently stopped for water after being in the sun.

Thanks to Get Your Goat Rentals for helping with our restoration efforts!

Author: Amari Woods

Assisting in Emergencies: Piedmont Park Conservancy Hosts Staff CPR Training and Installs AED Devices

On an early spring day, a Park visitor was playing soccer on the Active Oval when he suddenly fell to the ground. He was experiencing a major heart attack at just over 30 years old. Luckily, his friends were medical professionals and thought to run to the Tennis Center for help. They found an automated external defibrillator (AED) device which they used to keep his heart beating while they waited for an ambulance.

With over 78,000 athletes coming to Piedmont Park every year, things happen. Medical emergencies, on the other hand, are few and far between. The incident prompted the Conservancy staff to explore how they could respond to similar situations while working in the Park.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy was accepted into the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s 2018 Fall Extra Wish catalogue, where two generous donors provided the funding for three new AED devices. Additionally, the Conservancy decided to host two CPR training courses for the staff. The inclusion of the extra AED devices and staff training empowers the Piedmont Park Conservancy to provide assistance in a situation that may arise during their daily operations.

As of May 2019, over 80% of the Piedmont Park Conservancy staff has been trained on how to perform CPR and use an AED device. Mark Banta, President and CEO of the Conservancy, said of the training, “While there are no guarantees in life, the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest with the use of an AED device increases to about 40% or higher as opposed to 5%. We’re thrilled to have received this equipment and training in an attempt to improve the chances of survival.”

We hope to continue providing a gathering place for all Atlantans because we believe that a healthy and sustainable Park greatly contributes to a healthy and sustainable Atlanta.

Reminder: Always call 911 in case of emergency. After calling 911, if you see a Piedmont Park Conservancy staff member during working hours, please notify them of your emergency.