Key Link in Chattahoochee Greenway Preserved

SUWANEE, GA: Pulte Homes, developer of the Edinburgh riverfront golf community near Suwanee, Georgia, has donated a 70-foot-wide corridor along a mile-long stretch of the Chattahoochee to the National Park Service (NPS). The Trust for Public Land facilitated the property acquisition, which was completed in the summer of 2005, on behalf of NPS as part of its ongoing Chattahoochee River Land Protection Campaign. The campaign began in the mid-1990’s to transform the Chattahoochee River from one of the nation’s most threatened bodies of water into a vital center of community life for metropolitan Atlanta.

The goal of The Chattahoochee River Land Protection Campaign is to protect central Georgia’s drinking water and provide recreational opportunities by creating a 180-mile greenway along the banks of the Chattahoochee- a greenway that would stretch from Helen to Lake Lanier to Columbus, Georgia.

“When it comes to piecing together our greenway,” says Chris Deming, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, “this really is an important piece of the puzzle. The acquisition of this tract completes a continuous 7-mile stretch of river frontage in Gwinnett County in the heart of what we call our ‘Blitz Zone.’

“The ‘Blitz Zone’ is a large area of land along the river between Buford Dam and the City of Atlanta which is under a tremendous amount of development pressure,” continues Deming. “The sewer lines had already been laid and in many cases, it was literally a race against the bulldozers.”

“We’re really pleased to have been apart of this,” says Casey Hill, division president of Pulte Homes of Georgia. “It’s not every day developers and conservations get a chance to work together, but seeing this happen [making a connection with the national park] really makes it all worthwhile.

“Having that land permanently protected is not only an amenity for our Edinburgh development” continues Hill, “but it’s an important amenity for the larger community as well.”

Deming agrees. “This linear connection between the national park and other lands TPL helped acquire will create more passive recreation opportunities and public access as well as protection of the river corridor and a really scenic viewshed. But the real story is that it completes a much bigger picture and is an excellent example of what can be done when the public and private communities work together.

“It’s pretty amazing when you think about the whole 7-mile stretch of the river and how it all came together,” continues Deming. “Several developers, 8 different land owners, TPL, NPS, the state and Gwinnett County all worked together to make this happen. And, if you include Gwinnett County’s portion, the price tag was in the neighborhood of $32 million- still a small price to pay for protecting such a valuable resource like our river.”

To date, more than $160,000,000 has been raised for the Chattahoochee River initiative and over 70 miles have been protected along the river, representing over 48 separate land acquisition transactions and 13,280 acres. Added to previously existing parkland, over 146 miles of riverbank are now preserved.

As appreciation of the river’s unique value rises in both public and private circles, the Trust for Public Land, along with its other conservation “partners” (including federal and state environmental leaders, local officials, citizen groups and private land owners), continues to protect endangered lands along the Chattahoochee River. No other natural resource plays such a vital role in the life of so many Georgians, providing drinking water to more than four million people.