Walnut Creek Greenway Park

This WorldLegacy Leadership project involved a significant enhancement of a section of the Greenway System that predominantly served a low-income section of the city. The project included: designing and fabricating bird and duck houses, adding native plants, a butterfly garden, benches, and creating identification markers and trail maps.  March 2001. NC36. A second project renovated a quarter mile section of the Greenway and planted over 122 trees and plants. February 2004. NC63.

Greenway Rejuvenated

March 14, 2001

RALEIGH — Before they built the birdhouses and planted the butterfly bushes and dogwoods, the volunteers had to clear the bald tires, stained mattresses and beer bottles out of the swamp.

People still use the Walnut Creek wetland area as a dumping ground, but at least one small stretch across from Carnage Middle School may now lure more than late-night litterers.

About 50 people came Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the restoration of the the Walnut Creek Greenway Trail and walk the immaculate path.

Working with city officials, students and a local group of environmental activists, participants in a WorldLegacy leadership program cleaned up and restored a quarter-mile stretch of city greenway that cuts through the Walnut Creek wetland area.

The WorldLegacy, a Chapel Hill company offering adult-education and leadership programs, requires participants to complete service projects benefiting the community.

“When we came out the first day, it was overwhelming,” said Courtney Carlson, a 28-year-old occupational therapist and member of the WorldLegacy project team. “There was a lot of work to do, but we pulled together.”

Beginning in early January, volunteers began clearing out the junk clogging the nearby stream. Each weekend, work crews grew larger. Children from the surrounding neighborhood pitched in, digging holes, planting trees and clearing trash.

One weekend, more than 70 people came out to help, the WorldLegacy said.

The project was made possible by donations totaling $10,000 from area businesses as well as in-kind support from the government.

WorldLegacy volunteers also collaborated with Partners for Environmental Justice, a citizens group that began cleaning up the wetland area more than five years ago.

Eventually, Partners for Environmental Justice wants to convert close to 150 acres of the wooded, swampy area into an educational park and bog garden. The ambitious project comes at an estimated price of $10 million, and the group hopes the city would help pay.

The city owns a large piece of the wetland south of Walnut Creek between State Street and Garner Road. Other patches belong to the state, the federal government and private owners.

“This is the first segment of what this dream means to us,” said Norman Camp, co-chairman of Partners for Environmental Justice. “There is now in Southeast Raleigh a place for children and seniors, young and old alike to commune with nature.”

Walking along the greenway with Ed Milligan, Partners for Environmental Justice’s other co-chairman, Camp said their group hopes to restore the entire wetland area over the next 10 years.

At that point, a small plastic bag fluttered across the greenway, and Milligan stooped to pick it up.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “it’s always a constant battle.”

Reprinted with Permission of The News & Observer of Raleigh,