Collaborative Partnerships:

Rivers, Wetlands and Coastal Restoration

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs in biodiversity. Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. In addition to providing habitat for reptiles, fish, waterfowl, mammals, plants and more, wetlands absorb excess nutrients, sediment and other pollutants before they reach rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

When rivers overflow, wetlands help to absorb and slow floodwaters, which can alleviate property damage and loss, and can even save lives. They are great spots for fishing, canoeing, hiking and bird-watching, and they make wonderful outdoor classrooms for people of all ages.

Renew Our Rivers

Renew Our Rivers is a volunteer program that removes debris from rivers and other waterways throughout the Southeast. Started by an employee in 1999 as a local cleanup of the Coosa River around Alabama Power's Gadsden Steam Plant, the program has grown to include a year-round schedule of cleanups for the entire Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior river systems in Alabama, the upper Coosa in Georgia and other waterways in watersheds in Georgia, Mississippi and Florida.

On April 17, 2009, Southern Company system employees, with local community members, surpassed 10 million pounds of trash removed or recycled in Renew Our Rivers events. Now exceeding 13.1 million pounds removed and 58,000 volunteers. Renew Our Rivers is winner of over 20 prestigious awards, including:

2013 2011
  • Keep Mississippi Beautiful - Business Category
  • Gulf Guardian - Second Place
  • EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Award - Business Category
2009
  • Mississippi Wildlife Federation Corporate Conservationist of the Year
  • Keep America Beautiful - Education in Litter Prevention

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For more information about Renew Our Rivers activities, please visit: AL | FL | GA | MS

Although Renew Our Rivers has more scheduled cleanups and participants than ever, less debris is being removed. That can only mean one thing: rivers we've visited in the past are cleaner.

Gulf Guardian Award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program chose Alabama Power's Plant Barry for a Gulf Guardian Award in September 2009. Plant Barry won third place in the business category for its participation in the Renew Our Rivers program. Plant Barry has participated in the Renew Our Rivers program for five years. More »

Five Star Restoration

The Five Star Restoration Program provides modest financial and technical assistance to support community-based wetland, riparian, and coastal habitat restoration nationwide. The program is a partnership among the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Association of Counties, the Wildlife Habitat Council and corporate sponsors. Southern Company - including its four operating companies (Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power) - serves as the Southern region lead corporate sponsor.

Five Star projects use modest seed money to leverage additional resources and engage citizens in on-the-ground restoration. Projects have diverse goals - from improving local water quality and fish habitat with stream buffers or reefs, to providing outdoor classrooms and ecotourism by building or enhancing parks, riverfronts, wetlands and coastal areas.

Five Star's hallmark is that it helps build local community capacity for natural resource stewardship through education, outreach and hands-on community involvement and education. The projects are represented by diverse public-private partnerships that include at least five participants (i.e., "Five Stars") from various governments, businesses, schools and youth groups, environmental and citizen organizations.

As the southeastern corporate sponsor of the Five Star Restoration program, Southern Company has since 2006 directly provided more than $1.6 million to fund projects which, combined with partner and grantee matching funds have totaled nearly $8.96 million benefiting local communities. Through Five Star, the company also provides conservation training and networking opportunities.

Fact Sheet | How to apply

Elements of a Five Star Project

  • On-the-Ground Restoration - Projects must include on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in-stream or coastal habitat restoration.
  • Environmental Education - Projects must integrate meaningful education into the restoration project either through community participation or integration with K-12 environmental curriculum.
  • Partnerships - Projects must involve a diverse set of community partners to accomplish project objectives.
  • Measurable Results - Projects must result in measurable ecological, educational or social benefits.

Accomplishments

  • 89 grants to 46 organizations involving more than 350 community partners
  • Grants totaling more than $1.9 million, along with matching funds, will have a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $10.2 million
  • Outcomes include more than 1,088 acres of wetlands and over 126,000 square feet of riparian buffer restored or streambank stabilized*

*Figures are approximate; includes completed and anticipated results for funded projects through 2014.

2014 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants to implement wetland, riparian and coastal conservation initiatives:

In Alabama:

Auburn University will restore 400 linear feet of Mill Creek on the Phenix City Intermediate School campus. Project will remove invasive exotics from the creek and replant with native streamside vegetation, redirect stream flow, reconnect Mill Creek to a floodplain to dissipate energy, build and plant a stormwater wetland, and renovate an existing outdoor classroom. Partners include Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Goodwyn Mills and Cawood, the City of Phenix City, Phenix City Public Schools, Central High School, Mill Creek Project, Chattahoochee RiverWarden, Alabama Water Watch and the Whitewater Education Committee.

The City of Montgomery will assist restoration efforts at Genetta Park by removing invasive species and debris on 2.5 acres and planting 15 trees. Construction now underway will make Genetta Park a key demonstration site of green infrastructure and a constructed wetland. The project will engage the community through monthly cleanups of litter hot spots, design and install park signage describing the park's environmental features, host educational initiatives for grade school and high school students, train adult residents in water quality principals and supportive community actions. Partners include Alabama Clean Water Partnership, Auburn University, Montgomery Clean City Commission and 2D Studio.

The Freshwater Land Trust will restore 26,000 square feet of riparian buffer to benefit the watercress darter, a species that is restricted to four spring areas in the Black Warrior River system in Alabama. The project will perform a robust study of Roebuck Springs, remove part of an impervious parking lot and install bioswales to control stormwater runoff and increase habitat for the watercress darter. Educational initiatives will occur on-site, and the Birmingham Zoo will install a kiosk to engage a widespread and diverse audience on the endangered and endemic species of Alabama. Partners include the City of Birmingham, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey of Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College and the Birmingham Zoo.

Birmingham-Southern College will design and install a .3 acre bioswale/Ecoscape park at Village Creek to capture and filter stormwater, including planting 15 trees planted and restoring 24,000 square feet of stream-side buffer. The EcoScape will also educate visitors through signage describing local trees, shrubs, herbs and perennials, along with their medicinal, nutritional and environmental value. Partners include the City of Birmingham, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Southern Research Institute, Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society, REV Birmingham, Wade Sand and Gravel and J3 Urban Farm.

In Florida:

The Northwest Florida State College Foundation, with the help of citizen-scientist volunteers, will monitor 58 water quality stations and remove 140 acres of invasives on the coastal dune lakes of Walton County, Florida. This area is designated by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory as globally rare and critically imperiled. The project will increase capacity to foster a community of environmental stewardship for Walton County. Partners include Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Florida LAKEWATCH, Walton County, Florida, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, Dugas Family Foundation and Northwest Florida Water Management District.

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners will restore 35 acres of riparian wetland buffer along Jones Creek to slow nutrient and sediment loading into the impaired waterway. The project will plant 400 trees, engage 100 volunteers and reduce invasive plants by 90%. Partners will enhance visitorship through outdoor educational programs, volunteer stewardship events and upgrading 2,500 linear feet of trail to increase public access and add educational features. Partners include Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area Group, Keep Pensacola Beautiful, the Bay Area Resource Council, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Muscogee Creek Indians.

Keep Pensacola Beautiful will restore over one acre of oyster, salt marsh, fish and birding habitat at two locations in the Pensacola Bay System. Restoring these habitats will provide nursery and foraging grounds for finfish, shellfish and wading birds, while also filtering stormwater runoff and stabilizing the shoreline. The project will engage community volunteers and shoreline property owners from start to finish with shell collection, reef construction and monitoring. Partners include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Escambia County, the Ecosystem Restoration Support Organization, Washington High School-Marine Science Academy, Washington High School, Escambia County and the University of Florida.

In Georgia:

The South River Watershed Alliance will remove 10 acres of invasive species on the South River and replant the area with native river cane to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation caused by heavy rain events. The project will also serve as a study area for youth and adults to learn about on-the-ground local environmental restoration, engaging at least 125 students and 65 volunteers. Partners include the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management, Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, Arabia Mountain High School, Atlanta Audubon Society and Panola Mountain State Park.

Coastal WildScapes will create an education/outreach demonstration project for learning, replicating and increasing the scale of wetlands restoration and enhancement to increase coastal resiliency. Outcomes include 5 acres restored, over 1,000 people educated and 45 volunteer participants. The project will provide a tangible example of good stewardship for the difficult transition from natural communities to built landscapes; serve as a creative, protective buffer; and, create an outdoor classroom illustrating the influence of human actions on natural wetlands. Partners include the City of Midway, Verdant Enterprises, the Orianne Society, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Coastal Civil Engineering and the University of Georgia.

The University of Georgia will use oyster shell and native plants to construct a .05 acre living shoreline to help control erosion at Horsepen Creek, a tidal steam on Tybee Island. Project partners will raise community awareness of living shorelines in Georgia's unique coastal environment and provide public education and outreach on the value of these structures. Partners include the City of Tybee Island, Georgia 4-H, the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, Coastal Civil Engineering, 100 Miles and The Nature Conservancy.

In Mississippi:

The City of Pascagoula will restore one acre of urban forest, remove one acre of invasive species and install two rain gardens in a Pascagoula community park near Whitehead Lake to increase habitat for birds and other wildlife species. The project will lead six restoration sessions, host two education lectures for youth and engage of over 80 volunteers. Partners include the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College-Jackson County Campus, William Colmer Middle School, Kiwanis Club of Pascagoula, Church of the Rock and Mississippi Urban Forestry Council.

2013 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants to implement wetland, riparian and coastal conservation initiatives:

In Alabama:

Freshwater Land Trust - Complete cleanup and restoration on two acres of a former industrial site along the banks of Village Creek. This project will include removing all concrete and industrial debris; creating a natural vegetated riparian zone along the banks of Village creek; and implementing the first phase of design work for the trail to connect the residential area to an existing park. This site also is a major connector for a planned greenway system to connect the Enon Ridge and East Thomas communities in Birmingham, Ala. Partners include: Black Warrior River Keepers; Champions for Village Creek Greenway; Enon Ridge Neighborhood Association; East Thomas Neighborhood Association; City of Birmingham; Terracon Consultants Inc.; and Auburn University Urban Studios.

Troy State University - Restore wetland and riparian habitat on 15 acres of the college campus in Janice Hawkins Park along an unnamed tributary to Persimmon Branch. Partners and volunteers will remove non-native plants and create wetlands to capture urban stormwater runoff. Out-of-date stormwater infrastructure will be upgraded, a natural amphitheater will be constructed and innovative wetlands will be constructed to capture polluted stormwater before it enters the streams. Partners include: Choctawatchee Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority; Alabama Clean Water Partnership; Pike County Extension Service; and Boy Scouts of America.

Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) - Conduct bank and in-stream restoration at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve along 100 linear feet to support the Vermillion darter, found nowhere else in the world except Turkey Creek. The project will reduce sediment which will significantly contribute to the vermilion darter's range and decrease population isolation. Additionally, a stream-bank access point and pavilion will be constructed. Partners include: Freshwater Land Trust; The City of Pinson; BSC's Urban Environmental Studies Program; Stoneshovel; Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council; Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Alabama Master Naturalist Program; Friends of Turkey Creek; and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Alma Bryant High School - Restore 20,000 square feet of oyster reefs in southwest coastal Alabama and expand hands-on curriculum for aquaculture and marine biology students. High school students will grow and deploy oysters to a local oyster preserve. Students will monitor the success of their efforts and share information with other schools and local citizens. Partners include: South Mobile County Education Foundation; Steve Crockett oyster farm; Auburn University Shellfish Lab; Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program; and Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center.

In Florida:

Northwest Florida State College Foundation - Restore 3,600 square feet of valuable intertidal habitat at Eden Gardens State Park, reversing oyster habitat degradation resulting from substrate removal through dredging, as well as salt marsh erosion due to anthropogenic and natural forces. Volunteers will place substrate for oyster settlement and plant native, emergent salt marsh vegetation. The restoration site will serve as the focus for three educational outreach programs: teaching students through the Grasses in Classes program; involving the community through the OYSTER shell recycling program with local restaurants; and engaging park visitors through a new interpretive program. Partners include the Walton County School District; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program; Buster's Oyster Bar; Stinky's Fish Camp; Back Porch Restaurant; Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance; and the E.O. Dunn Foundation.

In Georgia:

Atlanta Botanical Garden - Restore and sustain three threatened plant communities inclusive of the monkey-face orchid in threatened watersheds. This project will encompass more than 10 acres across five urban Atlanta sites, including Big Canoe Community, Sawnee Mountain Preserve, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden and Chattahoochee Bend State Park. Partners and voluteers will remove trash and debris; treat and remove invasive species; and provide other habitat treatments favorable to monkey-face orchids along with a suite of associated native species. Interpretive signage will be developed and installed at each site. Partners include: North American Land Trust; Rock Creek Farms; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Big Canoe Property Owners Association; Sawnee Mountain Preserve; Chattahoochee Nature Center; Georgia Environmental Restoration Association; Lovett School; Grady High School; and Georgia State University.

Trees Atlanta - Restore a two-acre project site and stabilize 1,300 linear feet of Stockade Creek by removing invasive plants and planting native species. Volunteers will help with trash and invasive plant removal, re-planting and ongoing maintenance. Education efforts will include demonstrations on the role of effective water practices in community gardens, a "learning about birds" program and in-class education with Atlanta Charter Middle School. Partners include: Tapestry Community; City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; Atlanta Audubon Society; Atlanta Community Food Bank; Elements of Land Design; Adopt A Stream; and Fulton County Master Gardeners.

Piedmont Park Conservancy - Restore six acres of the Clear Creek Watershed within Piedmont Park and provide educational signage. Native trees, shrubs and other understory cover will be planted and 1,200 linear feet of trails will be stabilized to prevent riparian slope erosion or blazed to offer public access into the watershed. Partners include Fernbank Museum of Natural History; National Wildlife Federation; Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers; Georgia Tech; City of Atlanta, Department of Parks and Recreation; South Fork Conservancy; and Trees Atlanta.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve - Restore a native plant community on 1.15 acres. Volunteers and partners will remove non-native plants; establish a native riparian plant community; create a habitat corridor; construct a trail for public access; and enhance public appreciation for urban streams and wildlife through interpretive signage and education. Partners include: Oglethorpe University; Atlanta Audubon Society; Skyland Trails; Libba Shortridge; Hands-On-Atlanta; Buckhead Rotary; Galloway School; Pine Tree Garden Club; Buckhead Heritage; National Park Service; Girl Scout Troop 12460; and Little Da Vinci International School.

In Mississippi:

Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain - Engage volunteers in land restoration and trail building activities on 190 acres to establish the Turkey Creek Greenway/Blueway in Gulfport, Miss. Students from North Gulfport Middle School will work with Land Trust staff to monitor water quality in Turkey Creek; launch sites for kayaks and canoes will be constructed; and signage will be installed to guide visitors. Partners include: Gulfport Seabees; Community Collaborative International; United Way/Alternative Spring Break; Harrison County Master Naturalists; Turkey Creek Community Initiatives; North Gulfport Community Land Trust; North Gulfport Middle School; and other individuals.

City of Pascagoula, Miss. - Restore two acres, including 400 linear feet of streambank stabilization. Low-Impact Development (LID) techniques will be installed (including bioretention areas to improve stormwater management) and showcase desirable management techniques for homeowners and developers. Additionally, an ecological education curriculum will be developed for students and the area's growing eco-tourism industry. Partners include: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain; The Nature Conservancy; Mississippi Coastal Cleanup; Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College; and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

2012 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian and coastal conservation initiatives:

In Alabama:

Stream Bank Restoration at Turkey Creek Preserve
Recipient: Freshwater Land Trust

To remove a small poured concrete dam within a 226-acre preserve on Turkey Creek and restore and stabilize the streambanks. The creek in Pinson, Ala., is home to the endangered vermilion darter, which faces a major threat from impoundments that limit its habitat. After the dam is removed, one-quarter acre will be revegetated with 500 native trees, shrubs and grass plugs to stabilize the streambanks and provide important riparian and forestsed habitat. Additional partners include Birmingham-Southern College, the Turkey Creek Advisory Board, Father Nature Landscapes, the Turkey Creek Environmental Education Center and the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center.

Dog River Watershed Habitat Restoration & Education
Recipient: Dog River Watershed Clear Water Revival

To remove debris affecting the water quality and native habitats in the Dog River Watershed. About 12,000 native plants will be planted to increase riparian buffers, ultimately restoring two acres of emergent fresh and saltwater wetlands. In addition, the project will remove about 5,000 pounds of trash and transplant aquatic vegetation to revitalize red-bellied turtle and West Indian manatee habitats. Additional partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mobile Bay Estuary Program, Dr. Miriam Fearn, Boys Scouts of America, Murphy High School, Alabama Water Watch, Alabama River Alliance, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama Muddy Waters and Mobile Baykeepers.

In Florida:

Bayou Texar Oyster Reef and Marsh Grass Restoration
Recipient: Pensacola Escambia Clean Community Commission Inc.

To use 84 tons of oyster shells collected from local restaurants to restore oyster reef and intertidal marsh habitat along 1,200 feet of Bayou Texar in the Florida Pensacola Bay System. Marsh grasses will be planted and 79 reefs will be built with the recycled shells. The project will help to increase oyster populations, provide nursery and foraging grounds for finfish, shellfish and wading birds, and aid in filtration of stormwater runoff into the bayou. In addition, recycling the shell will reduce the amount going into the local waste stream. Additional partners include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Restoration Program, Bayou Texar Shoreline Property Owners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, University of West Florida/Community Volunteers, Bayou Texar Foundation, the Marina Oyster Bar, Peg Leg Pete's and the Grand Marlin.

In Georgia:

Water Conservation and Native Habitat Restoration in Atlanta
Recipient: Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

To implement a drainage and stormwater retention plan at a formerly contaminated industrial site located along the Atlanta BeltLine. This is part of a multi-phase project to turn a once-blighted property into an urban organic farm and sustainable habitat for native flora and fauna. At least four acres will be cleaned and treated to support rainwater storage and recycling, soil stabilization and healthy plant growth. Invasive species will be replaced with native plants - including berries (such as blueberries), grasses, shrubs and trees -- to support local birds. Citizens will have opportunities to learn organic land care best practices.

Peachtree Creek Confluence Restoration
Recipient: The South Fork Conservancy

To reclaim 31 miles of urban creeks by restoring, conserving and protecting the watershed and building low-impact trails. This is a continuation of a successful urban riparian recovery program begun by the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This project will fence off highway trash, control non-native invasives, restore three bioswales to catch highway stormwater and re-establish a biodiverse buffer along the creek, making the area more accessible and protecting water quality. Additional partners include Garden Hills Elementary School, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Trees Atlanta, Park Pride, Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, Perkins+Will, the City of Atlanta and CH2M HILL.

Dunwoody Nature Center Meadow Restoration
Recipient: Dunwoody Nature Center

To regrade 1.5 acres of the meadow and develop a linked system of rain gardens for stormwater collection in Dunwoody Park. The topography of the area currently causes stormwater to run down from the parking lot, neighboring baseball fields and subdivisions into Wildcat Creek, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River, causing erosion and pollution in the 11.5-acre drainage basin.The project also includes developing a facility to teach elementary through college-level students about the effects and prevention of erosion. Additional partners include the City of Dunwoody, Doosan Infracore, Lowe Engineering, Dunwoody High School, Design Seven, Hands on Atlanta, the Rotary Club, the City of Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, Boy Scout Troop 494, the Dunwoody Women's Club and DeKalb County Master Gardeners.

Alcovy River Greenway Restoration and Education
Recipient: Georgia Wildlife Federation Inc.

To remove exotic invasive species and plant 200 native species on approximately one mile of the riparian zone of Cornish Creek. Two rain gardens will be constructed to be both functional and educational examples of runoff control. In addition, a registry of landowners along the Alcovy River in Newton County will be updated. Designed to help connect, educate and assist landowners in making private conservation impacts, the registry will include current conservation commitments, land management options and available incentives. The project will seek to add at least 20 acres for conservation. Additional partners include Boy Scout Troop 222, The Conservation Fund, Newton County, Eco South, Oxford College of Emory University, Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Walnut Creek Invasive Plant Control & Native Reintroduction
Recipient: Elachee Nature Science Center

To control 27 acres of microstegium, an invasive annual grass, in the floodplains of the upper Walnut Creek Watershed. The project will monitor and map occurrences of microstegium, control infestation in riparian forests and plant 480 native seedlings over 516 square feet of test plots.The project also will include educational initiatives to help citizens control exotic invasive plants on their properties. Additional partners include Gainesville State College, Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, Hall County Environmental Management Systems and Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council.

In Mississippi:

Invasives Eradication on Wet Pine Savanna Habitat
Recipient: Southeastern Wildlife Conservation Group

To remove invasive and unwanted species from 80 acres of savanna. Less than 5 percent of the original acreage of wet pine savanna habitat remain in the Atlantic/Gulf Coastal Plain, making it one of the most endangered habitats in the country. The project also will provide educational experiences for visitors to the Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center, the headquarters for the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Additional partners include the Mississippi State University Master Naturalist Program, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources/Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grand Bay and Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Heritage Trails Partnership, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, AmeriCorps and K-12 students and teachers from area schools.

Restoration of Henderson Point Greenway/Blueway
Recipient: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain

To restore at least 5.9 acres of coastal wetland and upland forest to a pristine natural environment and improve accessibility in the Henderson Point area for low-impact recreation, where native vegetation was destroyed and invasives prevailed following Hurricane Katrina. The project will employ 77 volunteers to remove debris and invasive species, plant 250 native trees, construct a quarter-mile trail and install benches and a bicycle rack. Students will monitor the land for one year after the work is complete. Additional partners include the United Way of South Mississippi Day of Caring, Keesler Air Force Base, Habitat Stewards, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, United Way Alternative Spring Break, Boy Scout Troop 316, Pass Christian High School and Harrison County Master Naturalists/Master Gardeners.

Bayou Auguste Restoration
Recipient: Mississippi State University

To enhance nearly one-half acre of tidal marsh habitat along Bayou Auguste in the Hope VI neighborhood of East Biloxi, Miss. Residents and public agencies have identified restoring bayous as important for ecological, economic, social and environmental health. An existing partnership will undertake restoration and outreach work with the following goals: improve habitat and water quality; enhance visual appeal; and increase citizen stewardship through education and outreach activities. Additional partners include the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the City of Biloxi, the Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public School District, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and Moore Community House.

2011 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian and coastal conservation initiatives:

In Alabama:

Prichard Reading Park Stream Bank Restoration
Recipient: Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium
Five Star Funds: $22,955

To restore 350 feet of urban stream to its natural function by restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitat, which will reduce sediment loading, turbidity and nutrient enrichment in Eight Mile and Chickasaw Creeks in Prichard, Ala. This site will serve to showcase environmentally appropriate technologies for managing riparian buffer areas in an urban setting. It also will provide education, citizen involvement and capacity development opportunities to a grassroots citizens group as a pilot project for future community urban environmental efforts. Partners include the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Mobile County Soil and Water Conservation District, Coastal Alabama Clean Water Partnership, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Prichard Environmental Restorative Keepers (PERK), City of Prichard, Mobile Baykeeper and Auburn University.

Restoring Stream Functions in Holland Creek
Recipient: Auburn University
Five Star Funds: $39,100

To stabilize stream banks along 500 feet of Holland Creek, an impaired stream near the mouth of the Chattahoochee River in Phenix City, Ala., where extreme erosion has increased turbidity, decreased water and habitat quality and exposed sewer infrastructure. In-stream structures will be installed to help redistribute flow, dissipate energy, reduce velocities that scour stream banks and create scour pools to increase habitat diversity. Invasive plants will be removed and sanitary sewer manholes relocated to minimize overflow events. This highly visible site will be used to foster citizen environmental stewardship through tours, workshops and training over the course of this two-year effort. Partners include Auburn University, Alabama Clean Water Partnership, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, City of Phenix City, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood Inc. and the Mill Creek Watershed Project.

In Florida:

Bayview Park Oyster Restoration
Recipient: Pensacola Escambia Clean Community Commission Inc.
Five Star Funds: $27,150

To collect approximately 80 tons of oyster shell from local partner restaurants for use as substrate in the restoration of 22 oyster reefs (0.02 acres) at Bayou Texar in the Pensacola, Fla., Bay System (PBS). Restoring these reefs will increase oyster populations; provide nursery and foraging grounds for finfish, shellfish and wading birds; and aid in filtration of storm water runoff into the bayou. The public will be engaged with shell collection, reef construction and monitoring, and the site will be used for community outreach and education. This project addresses three priority goals of the Northwest Florida Water Management District's PBS Surface Water Improvement and Management Program. Partners include Pensacola-Escambia Clean Community Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, West Florida Regional Planning Council, Bayou Texar Foundation, City of Pensacola, University of Florida/IFAS Escambia County Extension, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program and local restaurants.

In Georgia:

Urban Habitat Restoration
Recipient: The Atlanta Botanical Garden Inc.
Five Star Funds: $38,379

To restore a total of 10 acres across multiple sites in the metropolitan Atlanta area, including the Atlanta Botanical Garden, some DeKalb County parks and schools and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Invasive species will be removed from wetland and riparian forests and replaced with non-invasive native species. This two-year project will incorporate multimedia educational outreach to involve citizens and educate the public about the adverse impacts of invasive species. Partners include The Atlanta Botanical Garden Inc., Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, DeKalb County Natural Resource Management Office, Atlanta Audubon Society, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, National Wildlife Federation, Butterfly Conservation Initiative and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve Invasive Removal & Education
Recipient: Blue Heron Nature Preserve Inc.
Five Star Funds: $12,500

To treat 7 acres of major invasive species on the Blue Heron Nature Preserve located in Fulton County, Ga. This project will eradicate the remaining privet, English ivy, wisteria, commercial lawn grasses, and other invasives, reducing them to a manageable level for a well-developed volunteer program to mechanically combat the re-emergence of these species. Signage will document the project and explain the role of native plants in the ecosystem and their relationship to other flora and fauna. Partners include Blue Heron Nature Preserve Inc., Oglethorpe University, Rock Springs Farm, Atlanta Audubon Society, Hands-On Atlanta, Team Buzz (Georgia Tech), Galloway School Environmental Club, Peachtree-Nancy Technical Advisory Committee and Girl Scout Troop 20319.

In Mississippi:

Crosby Arboretum Swamp Forest Educational Exhibit
Recipient: The Crosby Arboretum Foundation
Five Star Funds: $38,870

To restore 4.1 acres of a Small Stream Swamp Forest wetland in Picayune, Miss., for use as an exhibit and outdoor classroom to educate students and the public on the conservation needs and ecological values of this regional habitat type. Activities for this two-year project include providing public access to the exhibit and compatible recreational activities; conducting research and monitoring; propagating and planting species of concern; improving wildlife habitat; providing a primary filter to improve water quality and storage of off-site storm water; and supplying public education through interpretive trails, signage and guided tours. Partners include The Crosby Arboretum Foundation, Mississippi State University Extension Service, Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University Department of Geosciences, Louisiana State University Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi Native Plant Society, Jones and Jones Landscape Architects of Seattle, Mississippi Master Gardeners, Mississippi 4-H Club and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Old Fort Bayou Connection
Recipient: Land Trust for the Coastal Mississippi Plain
Five Star Funds: $11,750

To restore 11.17 acres of coastal wetland and upland forest identified as the Hussey property on Old Fort Bayou in Ocean Springs, Miss. Project activities include cleaning the property of trash and debris; removing invasive species; replanting native species and building a half-mile foot path along an existing road bed. Partners include Land Trust for the Coastal Mississippi Plain, Boy Scout Troop 211, Hands On Mississippi, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Gulf Coast Heritage Trails Partnership and Coastal Preserves/Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

2010 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian, and coastal conservation initiatives:

Tapawingo Springs Wetlands Restoration
Recipient: Freshwater Land Trust
Five Star Funds: $14,980
Project Area: Jefferson County, AL
To remove approximately 1.5 acres of invasive Chinese Privet from Tapawingo Springs, a former thriving wetland and bottomland ecosystem, and re-plant the area with approximately 1,500 native bottomland species and flowering plants. The goal is to create a haven not only for the Watercress Darter but also for songbirds and other wildlife. Partners include the Whole Foods Team Leadership Program, Society to Advance Resources at Turkey Creek (START)/Pinson Boy Scouts of America, Freshwater Land Trust Land Steward, Southern Environmental Center, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, as well as Samford University and Birmingham Southern College Biology Departments.

Village Creek Trail and Restoration
Recipient: Freshwater Land Trust
Five Star Funds: $20,620
Project Area: Birmingham, AL
To will construct and maintain a trail system along 2.4 acres of the Village Creek headwaters that will include invasive plant removal, wetland enhancement, and bioswale construction. Invasive plants such as privet will be removed, and a pervious walkway will be installed. Educational signage will be added, and the Southern Environmental Center, Jefferson County Health Department and The Freshwater Land Trust will offer public tours. This project will be implemented in partnership with the Freshwater Land Trust, Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH), the Southern Environmental Center (SEC), Birmingham-Southern College and the Champions for Village Creek Greenway.

Burwell Creek Restoration Project
Recipient: Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful - City of Rome, Georgia
Five Star Funds: $18,567
Project Area: Rome, GA
To restore 80 linear feet of eroding streambank, provide hands-on education promoting wildlife preservation and stream buffer protection, and establish a permanent water monitoring site. Partners on the project include The ECO River Education Center, The City of Rome, Georgia, Boys and Girl Scouts of America, University of Georgia's Floyd County Cooperative Extension, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Darlington School, Evans Construction Company, Georgia Power, Coosa River Basin Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, and the Citizens of Georgia Power Company Rome Chapter.

Delano Line Park Headwaters Restoration Project
Recipient: DeKalb County
Five Star Funds: $25,260
Project Area: Decatur, GA
To work with project partners to clear trash and debris from a headwater stream. Stream banks will be replanted to improve water quality and habitat. Environmental education will be offered to seven local schools. Project partners include DeKalb County, Museum School of Avondale Estates, White Oak Hills Neighborhood Association, Healthy Belvedere, and Avondale High School.

Trees Atlanta and BeltLine Clear Creek Restoration
Recipient: Trees Atlanta
Five Star Funds: $35,000
Project Area: Atlanta, GA
To restore and stabilize eroded 400 ft of Clear Creek along the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum by planting native riparian species. This will include the treatment and removal of invasive exotic plant species. Project partners include Atlanta Audubon Society, BeltLine Partnership (BLP), Atlanta Public Schools, Ansley Mall, Ansley Square, Park Pride, Georgia Power, Ansley Park Neighborhood, Morningside Neighborhood, Midtown Neighborhood Association, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and HGOR Landscape Architects.

Wetland Restoration in Piedmont Park
Recipient: Piedmont Park Conservancy
Five Star Funds: $40,000
Project Area: Atlanta, GA
To restore a 3.4-acre wetland, including unearthing 6 streams that comprise headwaters of Clear Creek. The project creates a rare wetland habitat in the center of the City of Atlanta. The project will also result in the addition of amenities including paths and boardwalks allowing for public visitation of the wetlands and the creation of a field study site including interpretive signage for passive learning as well as environmental education curriculum. to serve students and community groups. Project partners include: Aquascape Environmental, Arborguard Tree Specialists, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta Audubon Society, BEST Academy, Brasfield & Gorrie, City of Atlanta, Dept. of Parks and Recreation and Dept. of Watershed Management, Georgia Tech, Grady High School, Kimley-Horn and Associates, and the Silverman Construction Program Management.

Arrowhead Environmental Education Center Wetland Project
Recipient: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Five Star Funds: $39,998
Project Area: Floyd County, GA
To enhance a 7-acre wetland at the Arrowhead Wildlife Management Area in Floyd County that will be managed for waterfowl while providing long-term outdoor education. Volunteers from several local groups and organizations will benefit from personal interaction via designated community work days that will incorporate hands-on conservation and restoration activities. Project partners include J. Supply Company, Vellano Bros., Inc., Kerry Brown, Hugh Glidewell, Sunbelt Turf Farms, Neely Raper Lumber, Ducks Unlimited, Inc, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The Bayou by You
Recipient: Mississippi State University
Five Star Funds: $23,879
Project Area: Biloxi, MS
To enhance 7.5 acres of partially-filled and culverted wetlands of Bayou Auguste in the urban neighborhood of East Biloxi, Mississippi. Residents and public agencies have identified restoring urban bayous as important for flood protection and ecological health. The partnership will coordinate debris and invasive species removal, marsh grass propagation and planting, and stream bank reshaping to improve the Bayou's water quality and retention capacity, habitat function, biodiversity, and visual appeal. Mississippi State will work with the following organizations to implement this project: the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public Schools, and the City of Biloxi.

Cumbest Bluff Restoration Project
Recipient: Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Five Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Jackson County, MS
To implement the Cumbest Bluff Restoration Project, a 200 acre tract of hardwoods, bogs, and cypress swamp located just east of the lower Pascagoula River in Jackson County, Mississippi. This gifted property will allow the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation through its partnership alliances to restore and monitor the area's unique ecological balance and allow the educational community complete access for study. Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Power Company, Deviney Construction, and D&C Limited Investments, LLC will work with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation to carry out this project.

2009 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian, and coastal conservation initiatives:

Reed Harvey Community Greenway Wetland Park
Recipient: Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc
Five Star Funds: $27,500
Project Area: Center Point, AL
To restore an urban stream with 200 feet of stream channel restoration and construct approximately one acre of a bio-retention basin and wetland park in Center Point, Alabama. The project fits into the larger Five Mile Creek Greenway system and will serve as a demonstration site with interpretive signage to educate the community regarding the ecological, aesthetic, flood, erosion control, and water-quality benefits of proper streamside maintenance. Workshops and videos will also be used to help educate park maintenance officials, landscape professionals and commercial property owners. Project partners include: Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District; U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service; City of Center Point; and Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

Margaret Yarborough Elementary School Restoration Project
Recipient: Wrights Mill Road Elementary School
Five Star Funds: $39,920
Project Area: Auburn, AL
To restore 15 acres of woodland wildlife and bird habitat by improving water quality and fish habitat. The project partners will repair creek banks; remove non-native invasive plants; clear nature trails; construct a greenhouse in which the students will grow native plants for transplanting on-site; build handicap-accessible boardwalks and observation stations to accommodate physically challenged students; and apply for certification by the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program. Project partners include: Auburn University; City of Auburn; Alabama Invasive Plant Society; Lee County Master Gardeners; Vought Water Gardens; Save Our Saugahatchee; and Parent-Teacher Association.

Deadman's Island Restoration
Recipient: The City of Gulf Breeze
Five Star Funds: $30,000
Project Area: Lucedale, Gulf Breeze, FL
To construct a 1,240-foot natural oyster reef breakwater using recycled oyster shell to reduce wave action and protect the natural resources of Deadman's Island. The breakwater will protect the salt marsh, shoreline, dune ecosystem and submerged aquatic vegetation, increasing habitat for marine and terrestrial wildlife. The project engages all students in the life of an oyster and similar animals and provides greater knowledge of Pensacola Bay ecology. Partners include: school districts of Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; University of West Florida; and local volunteers from Rotary and Garden clubs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Colvard Spring Habitat Restoration
Recipient: Conasauga River Alliance
Five Star Funds: $14,500
Project Area: Murray County, GA
To restore 1.5 acres of the heavily silted Colvard Spring, improving vital habitat for the Georgia-listed Coldwater darter. The site will provide a potential safeguard area for Tennessee yellow-eyed grass, a federal endangered wetland plant of the Limestone Ridge and Valley Province. The project will serve as a demonstration workshop for county, landowner, and resource managers. Partners include: Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Tennessee Aquarium Aquatic Research Institute; Badger Farm Bed and Breakfast; Murray County Public Works; and Limestone Valley RC&D Council.

Gainesville/Hall County CWMA Weeds, Seeds & Deeds Program
Recipient: Elachee Nature Science Center
Five Star Funds: $10,000
Project Area: Gainesville, GA
To restore 30 acres of the floodplains of the upper Walnut Creek Watershed by controlling Microstegium and other invasive plants, and planting 5 acres of native plants propagated from sources in the park which will provide important wildlife habitat to the Georgia Piedmont. The project will educate local students, teachers and the public about the impacts of exotic invasive species and engage private citizens in controlling invasives on their properties. Partners include: Gainesville/Hall County Cooperative Weed Management; Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission; Georgia Exotic Pest Plant; Hall County Master Gardeners; Smithgall Woodland Garden; and Gainesville State College.

North GA Wetlands Restoration and Rare Species Recovery
Recipient: Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
Five Star Funds: $34,590
Project Area: Bartow, Catoosa, Chatooga, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Whitfield, and Walker Counties, GA
To restore 11.1 acres of wetlands and riparian zones in northwest Georgia to help protect and recover populations of three rare plant species: Tennessee yellow-eyed grass, Georgia alder and Virginia spirea. This project will also educate and engage students, teachers and the public through training, participation, educational lesson plans and conservation display gardens. Partners include: Atlanta Botanical Garden; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Georgia Power; Georgia Department of Transportation; and USDA Forest Service.

Putting the (native) Garden Back in Garden Hills!
Recipient: Garden Hills Elementary School
Five Star Funds: $10,000
Project Area: Atlanta, GA
To restore 300 feet of riparian buffer along a small urban stream in Atlanta that can serve as an outdoor classroom for students to learn about watersheds and wildlife protection. This project will remove invasive plants and re-vegetate with native plants. Interpretive educational signs will be posted at the site for the community to explain the importance of native plants to watersheds and wildlife. Partners include: Atlanta Public Schools; Hands On Atlanta; Boy Scouts; Georgia Native Plant Society; Fernbank Museum; and others.

Gum Pond Educational Exhibit
Recipient: The Crosby Arboretum Foundation
Five Star Funds: $32,418
Project Area: Picayune, Mississippi
To create a 13,300 sq. ft. gum pond wetland exhibit with interpretive signage and trails at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi, where it will serve as an outdoor classroom for area schools and the visiting public. This project will be the first forested wetland education exhibit to interpret gum pond ecology in the Southern U.S. Project partners include: Mississippi State University and its Extension Service; Pearl River County Master Gardeners; and 4-H Forest Club.

2008 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian, and coastal conservation initiatives:

Restoration at Depot Creek
Recipient: The City of Lucedale
Five Star Funds: $11,979
Project Area: Lucedale, George County, Mississippi
The City of Lucedale will partner with the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, the Boy Scouts of America, The Nature Conservancy, MSU Extension Service and Replant South Mississippi to restore approximately 1,350 linear feet of riparian corridor that winds through the City of Lucedale's 29-acre greenway. The project will engage the local community in long-term resource stewardship and rehabilitate 18 acres of wetlands using native woody and herbaceous plant species.

Dune Plant Nursery and Restoration
Recipient: Murphy High School
Five Star Funds: $10,000
Project Area: Dauphin Island, Alabama
Murphy High School will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Dauphin Island, Dune Doctors, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Dauphin Island Property Owner's Association to restore 4 acres of coastal dune habitat in and around the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Students will construct and maintain a sea oat nursery on the Murphy High School campus in order to plant the sea oats on beaches and barrier islands to improve habitat for an endangered dune mouse species. The sea oat nursery will also provide stock for other local community restoration projects.

Seven Springs Restoration
Recipient: The Freshwater Land Trust
Five Star Funds: $32,000
Project Area: Birmingham, Alabama
The Freshwater Land Trust, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Samford University's Department of Biology, the Southern Environmental Center, Lawson State Community College and the Faith Apostolic Church will expand a 4,000 foot riparian buffer, meditation garden and outdoor classroom on the grounds of Faith Apostolic Church in order to protect the Seven Springs wetland system and an endangered population of the watercress darter. Lawson State Community College horticulture students will use the meditation gardens as a training ground for use of appropriate native landscape materials and provide routine maintenance. Students from Richard Arrington Elementary school will learn about the biodiversity within their own community through field trips to the Environmental Education Center being developed as part of a larger effort undertaken by Faith Apostolic Church.

Lindsey Creek Restoration
Recipient: Chattahoochee River Watch, Inc.
Five Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Columbus, Georgia
The Chattahoochee River Watch, Inc. will partner with the Columbus Consolidated Government, Columbus State University Environmental Science Program and the Georgia Forestry Commission to restore 2.2 miles of riparian forest buffer along Lindsey Creek. The project will engage the local community in stewardship of their water resources and help produce an educational video about the impacts of storm water and non-point source pollution on water quality in the Chattahoochee River Watershed.

Swamp Creek Riparian Restoration
Recipient: Conasauga River Alliance
Five Star Funds: $30,000
Project Area: Dalton, Georgia
The Conasauga River Alliance will partner with Whitfield County, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Limestone Valley RC&D Council, D2 Land & Water Resources, Inc. and private landowners to treat 500 linear feet of collapsing streambank to restore riparian integrity to a 3,800-foot segment of Swamp Creek, a tributary to the Conasauga River. The site will be used for an in-field, community-based workshop to showcase actual installation of currently underutilized ecologically-preferable streambank stabilization techniques to area developers, designers and landowners.

Chicopee Woods Habitat Restoration
Recipient: Elachee Nature Science Center
Five Star Funds: $30,000
Project Area: Gainesville, Georgia
The Elachee Nature Science Center will partner with the Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, the Chicopee Woods Weed Management Area, the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council and the City of Gainesville in the treatment of 15 acres of exotic invasive plants in the riparian forests of the Chicopee Woods. The project will restore a diverse native plant community and enhance wildlife habitat, while educating the public and local elementary students, and also training volunteers about the threat of exotic invasive plants in Georgia.

Jones Creek East Stream Restoration Project
Recipient: Escambia County Neighborhood and Environmental Services Department
Five Star Funds: $40,000
Project Area: Pensacola, Florida
Escambia County will partner to restore and protect 2.5 acres of wetlands, including 2,200 linear feet of riparian habitat along Jones Creek. As part of this effort, Escambia County will re-contour the existing creek channel to create a floodplain and improve water quality for the area and extend the existing boardwalk to offer guided tours providing educational opportunities. Project partners include Escambia County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, Bay Area Resource Council and the Barrancas Community Improvement Association.

Evans Mill Historic Site Riparian Restoration
Recipient: DeKalb County
Five Star Funds: $17,500
Project Area: Lithonia, Georgia
DeKalb County will partner to restore and protect over half an acre of wetland, including 200 linear feet of riparian buffer along Pole Bridge Creek. The restoration effort will remove litter and debris, and plant native species to enhance the forested wetland habitat. The old mill site will also serve as a rest and picnic area to be explored by visitors utilizing new educational signage. Additionally, the project will engage 3,600 students at five local schools in environmental education activities connected to their curriculum. Project partners include DeKalb County's Parks Department, Parks and Greenspace Office and Department of Watershed Management, Salem Middle School, University of Georgia Extension 4H Program and the University of Georgia Alumni Association DeKalb Chapter.

Alcovy River at East End Wetlands Restoration
Recipient: Georgia Wildlife Federation
Five Star Funds: $40,000
Project Area: Covington, Georgia
The Georgia Wildlife Foundation will partner to restore and protect 3.5 acres of wetlands along the Alcovy River at East End road in Covington, Georgia. The project will also create a demonstration site to educate the community about the economic and ecological values of healthy riverine ecosystems in conjunction with Oxford College of Emory University. Project partners include the Georgia Wildlife Foundation, The Conservation Fund, Georgia Future Farmers of America-Future Career and Community Leaders of America, Georgia River Fishing, Newton County Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, Oxford College of Emory University, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Environmental Protection Division Adopt-A-Stream and Rivers Alive, Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, Newton County Extension and Master Gardeners and Air Conditioning Specialists, Inc.

Trail Creek Riparian Buffer Restoration
Recipient: Upper Oconee Watershed Network
Five Star Funds: $14,800
Project Area: Athens, Georgia
The Upper Oconee Watershed Network will partner to restore 800 feet of riparian buffer in the Trail Creek Watershed while educating citizens on the relationships among residential land management, and riparian habitat condition, stream health, water quality, and the species that depend on these wetlands. This project will provide local residents with tools to initiate their own backyard wetland habitat improvements and the project will conduct a series of workshops to educate and engage local citizens in watershed health and maintenance. Project partners include the Upper Oconee Watershed Network, Oconee River Greenway Commission, Chicopee/Dudley Neighborhood Association, University of Georgia, Athens-Clarke County departments of Leisure Services, Public Works, and Central Services and the Athens Garden Club.

2007 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian, and coastal conservation initiatives:

Harvey Reed Park Wetland Restoration (AL)
Recipient: Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.
Five-Star Funds: $10,000
Project Area: Centerpoint, Alabama

The Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. will restore 1.5 acres of Harvey Reed Park by planting native species to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as water quality of contributing storm water runoff. The project will re-contour the urban stream channel using natural design techniques to correct severe erosion from storm water. The new channel design will create safety and stabilization to the walking path leading to the park and the future Five Mile Creek Greenway, allowing the community to access the park. Project partners include the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; ENSR; the City of Centerpoint; and the Jefferson County Roads and Transportation Department.

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Gardening (AL)
Recipient: Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will restore .25 acres to Little Lagoon in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge through submerged aquatic vegetation plantings. The plantings will restore vital coastal wetlands habitat, overcome obstacles associated with the challenging process of submerged aquatic vegetation planting, and engage and educate volunteers. High school student volunteers will learn techniques important to the process of submerged aquatic vegetation planting, as well as the benefits offered to the ecosystem by this habitat. The techniques that will be used for the restoration at Little Lagoon will be transferable to similar projects in the Mobile Bay estuarine system and beyond. The restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation will directly benefit a host of diverse fauna which depend on the vegetation, including recreationally and commercially important fish and crustaceans. Project partners will include the Mobile Bay National Estuarine Program; Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Grasses in Classes Program); and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

Tanner Williams Elementary School Rain Garden Creation Program (AL)
Five-Star Funds: $10,065
Recipient: Mobile County
Project Area: Wilmer, Alabama

Mobile County will partner to create a 3,000 square-foot rain garden that will help protect Big Creek Lake, the primary source of drinking water for the Mobile Metropolitan area. Volunteers will prepare the site and a two-day rain garden demonstration workshop will educate participants on proper rain garden creation techniques. Students at Tanner Williams Elementary School will participate by learning about the rain garden's benefits for clean water and natural species. The success of the project will be monitored and the county will develop a brochure designed to launch a county-wide rain garden program. Project partners include Mobile County; Alabama Coastal Foundation; South Alabama Nurserymen's Association; Tanner Williams Elementary School; Mobile County Master Gardener's Association; and Mobile Area Water and Sewer System.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve (AL)
Recipient: Southern Environmental Center
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Pinson, Alabama

The Southern Environmental Center (SEC), in partnership with Vulcan Materials, Youth Leadership Forum, Thompson Tractor, Forever Wild, ENSR, and the Jefferson County Commission, will restore 50 feet of stream bank in a 700-acre nature preserve along Turkey Creek. The project will also remove invasive species in the area, plant native species, construct a porous walkway, improve the access road, relocate parking areas, and plant a meadow garden in old parking areas. Through these efforts, the project will reduce sediment run-off, erosion, and stream bank degradation. This will improve water quality for vermillion darter habitat. In addition, the general area's appearance and accessibility will improve, and storm water runoff will be reduced. The project and Turkey Creek preserve will be utilized as an outdoor lab for Birmingham-Southern College's Urban Environmental Studies program, visitor education, and Eagle Scouts projects. SEC will work with Pinson Elementary, Rudd Middle, and Pinson High schools to create a Darter Adoption Program, organize fieldtrips, and hold an annual Turkey Creek Festival.

Project Greenshores Site II (FL)
Recipient: Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Pensacola, Florida

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will propagate, care for, and restore 21 acres of emergent submerged aquatic vegetation along the northern shoreline of Pensacola Bay. Oyster reefs will be constructed along the edge of the marsh using recycled concrete rubble that will serve to provide habitat for filter-feeding organisms, while also protecting the newly created salt marsh from erosion. Seven acres of oyster reef habitat and 14 acres of salt marsh will be created at this site. The project also will include the construction of sidewalk, observation platforms, and a nature trail. The project will involve a hands-on approach by utilizing many volunteers from all aspects of the community, including students from local schools, civic organizations, environmental clubs, and local businesses. Project partners will include the City of Pensacola; Escambia County; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Santa Rosa County Sea Grant Extension; and Escambia County Sea Grant Extension.

The Restoration of Deadman's Island (FL)
Recipient: Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserves Office/CAMA
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Gulf Breeze, Florida

The Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserves Office will partner to restore four acres of emergent salt marsh and protect 1,240 feet of shoreline in the vicinity of Deadman's Island. Project partners will place 240 artificial vertical oyster reef structures along approximately 1,240 linear feet of shoreline and use dredge spoil behind the structures to establish the marsh. Vocational students from Escambia and Okaloosa county school districts will construct the reef structures and local green houses classes, school children and volunteers will plant the newly formed marsh. The ultimate goal of the project is permanent protection of the site through incorporation into the adjacent Fort Pickens Aquatic Preserve. Project partners include the Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserves Office; City of Gulf Breeze; Escambia County School District; Okaloosa County School District; University of West Florida; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and Florida Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas.

Northwest Florida Grasses in Classes Program (FL)
Recipient: Partnership for Community Programs, Inc.
Five-Star Funds: $19,905
Project Area: Florida

The Partnership for Community Programs, Inc. will conduct a "Grasses in Classes" program that will produce enough vegetation to restore and enhance 7.63 acres of wetland and restore 3,673 feet of riparian corridor. The program is a hands-on, interactive education project that will enable students to play a direct role in shoreline stabilization and restoration projects. Students will maintain and monitor a nursery of coastal aquatic and emergent vegetation. Students will gain a sense of stewardship by studying the ecological importance of coastal plant species and by participating in restoration projects. Two schools each from seven coastal counties will participate in the project, and the project will train at least 10 teachers in propagation techniques of coastal plants and at least 20 Master Gardener and Florida Master Naturalist volunteers in site assessment and recommendations. Project partners will include the University of Florida Sea Grant Extension Program; Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Extension; the School Districts of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; the Bay Area Resource Council; and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.

Oyster Lake Restoration (FL)
Recipient: Partnership for Community Programs Inc.
Five-Star Funds: $17,101
Project Area: Pensacola, Florida

The Partnership for Community Programs Inc. will restore 2.71 acres of Oyster Lake by removing invasive species and planting woody and herbaceous species. The project will improve the habitat for animal and plant species, such as the Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse, the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, the Florida Panhandle Spiderlily, Southern Milkweed, and Godfrey's Golden Aster. The project will also result in the reduction of upstream flooding in the area. Long-term monitoring and management will include on-site monitoring of water quality and wildlife observations conducted by volunteers. Project partners will include the University of Florida Sea Grant Extension; the Bay Area Resource Council; the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance; the Walton Coastal Dune Lake Advisory Boards; the South Walton Community Council; and the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

Living Shoreline Restoration (FL)
Recipient: Walton College
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Destin, Florida

Walton College will restore .3 acres of land at Mattie Kelly Park by removing invasive plant species and replanting native wetland vegetation. The project will also create an oyster reef at Joe's Bayou Recreation Area to improve water quality, create fish and invertebrate habitat, and act as a living breakwater to help protect the shoreline from increased erosion. The project will consist of marsh vegetation plantings on 200 feet of eroded shoreline to provide stabilization, protection, and sand accumulation, thereby restoring the living shoreline. Educational volunteer activities will be planned for every part of the project to emphasize the importance of living shoreline solutions and creating a sustainable framework for future restoration and stewardship activities. Project partners will include the City of Destin; the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Mattie Kelly Cultural and Environmental Institute.

Ecosystem Restoration at Liza Jackson Park (FL)
Recipient: Walton College
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Walton College will restore approximately 1,000 feet of creek shoreline in Liza Jackson Park by altering a channelized, storm water outfall canal to form a meandering stream. Returning the creek to a more natural, vegetated setting will reduce storm water velocity runoff. The improved water quality will help reduce bacterial pollution into Santa Rosa Sound and will reduce beach closures in the park's swimming areas. The project will include a volunteer litter clean up and education day, educating local school children on the impact of non-point source pollution, the role of shoreline vegetation, and the importance of sound practices for clean water management. Project partners will include the Northwest Florida Management District; the City of Fort Walton Beach; the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; the University of Florida Sea Grant; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Varnell Springs Community Educational Outreach Trail (GA)
Recipient: Conasauga River Alliance
Five-Star Funds: $ 8,200
Project Area: Varnell, Georgia

The Conasauga River Alliance will build on and protect conservation investments made over the last three years to restore and protect a three-acre limestone springs complex in Varnell Georgia. A boardwalk for the Varnell Springs Community Educational Outreach Trail will be created to protect sensitive emerging wetland vegetation and also to provide a platform for educating future stewards of Varnell Springs about the restoration project and protecting this water resource. Education aspects include targeted outreach utilizing 25 interpretive signs and a stewardship mentoring program. Project partners include the City of Varnell; Limestone Valley RC&D; Whitfield County; and Dalton College.

Lake Oconee Island Restoration (GA)
Recipient: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Five-Star Funds: $15,740
Project Area: Greene and Morgan Counties, Georgia

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will restore approximately 10 acres of ecologically valuable habitat in Lake Oconee to prevent further island erosion. The project will place riprap along three islands to provide bank stabilization. In addition, fishery enhancements, such as sunken cedar trees and spawning gravel, will be placed along the shoreline by volunteers from a local anglers club. Volunteers at Reynolds Plantation Heritage and Nature Center will enhance wetland and upland habitat with migratory bird attractors, such as wood duck houses and native plantings of water willow and cypress. Project partners include the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership; the Georgia Power Company; Lake Oconee Anglers Club; Reynolds Plantation Heritage and Nature Center; and the Boy Scouts of America.

Chicopee Woods Weed Control Project (GA)
Recipient: Elachee Nature Science Center
Five-Star Funds: $10,000
Project Area: Gainesville, Georgia

Elachee Nature Science Center will restore 15 acres of riparian habitat within the Upper Walnut Creek Watershed, in the Oconee River Basin, by treating six acres of Kudzu infestation, six acres of privet infestation, and three acres of Microstegium infestation identified in the local management plan. Through mapping, monitoring, and controlling these infestations using a pest management strategy, this project will restore and protect native riparian plant communities and enhance biodiversity. The project will educate local students, teachers and the public on the adverse impacts of exotic invasive species on native habitats, and increase public support for local conservation efforts, awareness of exotic invasive species and the threats they pose. Project partners include the Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission; the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council; Gainesville College and State University; Hall County; the City of Gainesville; the Georgia Forestry Commission; the Hall County Soil and Water Conservation District; and Kudzu Free Communities.

Restoration of Riparian Corridor (MS)
Recipient: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Project Area: Gulfport, Mississippi

The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain will restore 890 feet of riparian corridor within the Turkey Creek Greenway, and 104 acres of the riparian corridor along Turkey Creek, to improve water quality and other functions of the habitat. The project will also educate volunteers and local residents about the importance of riparian corridors and native plants with respect to the health of the creek and their community. Project activities will include the removal of invasive species, planting of native species, and litter cleanup at seven sites. A baseline assessment and management plan will be developed at these seven sites. Project partners include the Wolf River Conservation Society, Inc.; Turkey Creek Community Initiatives; Gulf Coast Recovery Corps; and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

2006 Grant Recipients

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetland, riparian, and coastal conservation initiatives:

2006 Grant Recipients
The following organizations have been awarded 5 Star Restoration grants this year to implement wetlands conservation initiatives:

Magnolia Springs Restoration Project
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Grant To: Baldwin County Commission
Project Location: Baldwin County, Alabama
Congressional District: AL-01
Baldwin County Commission will restore five acres of degraded coastal wetlands, streams and riparian areas within an ecologically and culturally significant county park that contains a rare freshwater pool surrounded by a degraded stream bank. The county will seek public input on the project and involve local civic organizations and schools in the re-vegetation of the site. Project partners will use the hurricane-ravaged site as a model demonstration area for stream bank stabilization projects. Project partners include Magnolia Springs Garden Club, Magnolia Springs Community Association, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Fishing Creek Wetlands Enhancement
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Grant To: Benjamin Moore & Co.
Project Location: Pell City, St. Clair County, Alabama
Congressional District: AL-6
Benjamin Moore & Co. will restore approximately 10 acres of wetland habitat on the banks of Fishing Creek. The Wetlands Enhancement Project will reduce erosion by restoring a small pond currently being fed from a small stream. The area will then be replenished with natural vegetation increasing the biodiversity. Benjamin Moore & Co. will also continue to sponsor awareness programs for Duran South Junior High School youth to promote the many values of wetlands. Project partners include Alabama Power Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Duran South Junior High School, and Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems.

Mobile Bay Western Shore Habitat Restoration
Five-Star Funds: $5,000
Grant To: Murphy High School
Project Location: Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama
Congressional District: AL-1
Murphy High School will restore a half-acre of marsh wetland along the western shore of Mobile Bay in Alabama. The project will work with high school students to plant five plots with native emergent grasses. Students will be involved in the planning, planting, monitoring, and data collection of the sites. Data collection includes water quality, soil quality, and fish and invertebrate identification. Project partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Barry Vittor and Associates, Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and a variety of local volunteers including teachers, students, and parents.

Seven Springs Watercress Darter Restoration Project
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Grant To: Freshwater Land Trust
Project Location: Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Congressional District: AL-7
Freshwater Land Trust will restore three acres of riparian buffer along Seven Springs in Birmingham, Alabama, to increase the habitat area of the endangered Watercress Darter. Project partners will remove invasive vegetation, and replant the area with native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Additionally, partners will work with the local community to create a nature sanctuary and outdoor classroom near the site to implement environmental education programs. Long-term monitoring by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local university biologists will ensure the success of the Watercress Darter recovery efforts. Project partners include Faith Apostolic Church, Southern Environment Center, Samford University Department of Biology, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Five Mile Creek Restoration Project
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Grant To: Freshwater Land Trust
Project Location: Fultondale, Jefferson County, Alabama
Congressional District: AL-6
The Freshwater Land Trust will restore the riparian habitat and improve the water quality of a section of Five Mile Creek by removing invasive plant species and reintroducing native plant species in the riparian corridor. Project partners will construct a passive wetland to treat acid mine drainage discharge flowing into the creek, and local school students and teachers will provide riparian buffer maintenance and water quality monitoring. The Trust will also promote sustainability throughout their efforts to restore Five Mile Creek. The project's progress and outcomes will be evaluated by maintenance of a healthy, native riparian zone and improved water quality at the site. Project partners include Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development Council, Alabama Power Service Organization (Magic City Chapter), Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation Service, City of Fultondale, Fultondale Elementary School, Five Mile Creek Partnership, and United Land Corporation.

Medlock Park Riparian Corridor Restoration
Five-Star Funds: $10,175
Grant To: Dekalb County
Project Location: Dekalb County, Georgia
Congressional District: GA-04
Dekalb County will restore 70 feet of an urban tributary to South Peachtree Creek within Medlock Park. The project will improve the habitat quality of the tributary system, stabilize the stream banks, and provide a buffer vegetated with native plant species. In addition, an adjacent wetland will be restored and workshops will be implemented with neighborhood associations and Medlock Elementary School to promote environmental education and public awareness of water quality objectives. Project partners include Dekalb County Parks and Recreation Department, Medlock Elementary School, Dekalb County Parks Bond and Greenspace Office, Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and EcoWatch Americorps.

Varnell Springs Restoration
Five-Star Funds: $10,950
Grant To: Conasauga River Alliance
Project Location: Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia
Congressional District: GA-9
Conasauga River Alliance will restore three acres of wetlands within Varnell Springs, a tributary of the Conasauga River in Varnell, Georgia. Project partners will remove invasive Chinese privet, trash, and old fencing around one spring to allow the natural re-emergence of native vegetation including dwarf iris, cardinal flower, and blue phlox. Additionally, interpretive signs will be placed in the area to educate the public about the springs, and elementary school field days will bring over 500 students to the area. Project partners include the City of Varnell, Whitfield County, Limestone Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, and Sleepy Hallow Farms Inc.

Jekyll Island Oyster Reef Restoration
Five-Star Funds: $20,000
Grant To: CDR Environmental Specialist, Inc.
Project Location: Jekyll Island, Glynn County, Georgia
Congressional District: GA-1
CDR Environmental Specialists, Inc. will restore a half a mile of oyster habitat along Clam Creek, near Jekyll Island, Georgia. The project will promote community awareness of the importance of oyster shell recycling and of the critical function that oysters serve as a keystone species in this region's ecosystem. An oyster shell collection will be established and the local community will be encouraged to participate in shell recycling. Cured oyster shells will be bagged to be used in construction of an oyster reef in Clam Creek. From the project start date until the oyster reef is constructed, a monthly water quality assessment program will be conducted to establish the baseline water quality of Clam Creek. The riparian and coastal areas associated with the reef will benefit through increased water quality, habitat production, and abundance and diversity of benthic biota. Project partners include Atlantic Richfield Company, Honeywell, Jekyll Island-State Park Authority, University of Georgia's Marine Extension Service, and Georgia Power.

Bennett Bayou Restoration and Education Initiative
Five-Star Funds: $19,997* (*includes $2,200 from EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program)
Grant To: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain
Project Location: Moss Point, Jackson County, Mississippi
Congressional District: MS-4
Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (LTMCP) will restore 2.5 acres of wetlands within the Bennett Bayou, in Southern Mississippi. Project partners will remove boardwalk, riprap and invasive vegetation along a channel to reduce erosion and replace the area with native plants. Over 35 volunteers, including 20 local high school students, will assist with the native plantings. LTMCP will work with partners to conduct education field trips to the site, educating the community on the importance of native plants and wetlands in the region. Project partners include Audubon Mississippi, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Mississippi Power, Pascagoula River Basin Alliance and the City of Moss Point.

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