Key Tract Acquired Along Chattahoochee (GA)
FULTON COUNTY, Georgia, 12/5/01 –For 20 years, a 55-acre tract of Fulton County land nestled between the Chattahoochee River and Georgia 400 had been out of reach for the National Park Service (NPS)…land values in the area soared and no source of funding was available.
More agonizing, the property owned by Jim Cowart was surrounded by other lands owned by NPS and Fulton County that already offer public access.
If only the tract could be acquired, NPS could connect Chattahoochee River park land to the Roswell Riverwalk via a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river… a “huge advance”, the NPS says, in the quest to create a greenway along the Chattahoochee. In 1998 and 1999, the U.S. Congress appropriated $25 million in land protection funds as part of the Chattahoochee River Land Protection Campaign. With funding for top NPS priorities in place, the Trust for Public Land dedicated itself to acquiring the Cowart tract and many other parcels of land.
In September of this year, TPL closed on the Cowart tract – promptly turning the land over to NPS.
“This acquisition moves us light years ahead in our effort to create the greenway,” says NPS Assistant Superintendent Bill Carroll. “It allows us to start planning so that we can implement our vision of expanding our existing trails and crossing the river on Georgia 400 by building a pedestrian bridge beneath the automobile bridge. The property preserves wildlife habitat, protects a beautiful view of the river, and creates magnificent opportunities for recreation.”
Carroll adds that he’s thankful TPL took on the project.
“The Trust for Public Land worked hard to bring this land into the public’s hands,” he says. “TPL saw the big picture of what could be accomplished if this tract could be added to existing park land.”
Cowart, a real estate developer, is also happy with the effort to protect the land.
“TPL has been a pleasure to work with,” he says. “I’ve had opportunities to sell the land to developers but I was hesitant because I felt like it really belonged with the National Park Service. Land on the Chattahoochee River should be protected, and I’m delighted that we were all able to make this happen.”
TPL Southeast Regional Director Dale Allen sees preservation of the Cowart property as a situation that benefits everyone.
“This transaction typifies the qualities we stand for,” he says. “It represents our ability to work closely to address the needs of both land owners and the public while we assist government agencies. The National Park Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are working very hard to protect vital natural resources and provide Georgians with another beautiful place to spend the day outdoors.”
About TPL: Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate — applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Across the nation, TPL has saved more than 1.5 million acres of land. In Georgia, TPL has helped protect land throughout the state – including nearly 70 miles along the Chattahoochee River. It has also conserved land on Georgia’s coast and rivers, and in urban centers. For the second year in a row, The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine has named the Trust for Public Land the most efficient conservation charity in the nation, having dedicated 92% of funds to programs in 2001. For more information, visit www.tpl.org