Wildcat Creek is literally the introduction point for thousands of Dunwoody Nature Center visitors to experience nature, Executive Director Alan Mothner says. Unfortunately, deteriorating bank conditions during major storm events have created extensive scouring and erosion along the creek banks to such a degree that the beech, hickory, and poplar trees that shade the creek are now in danger of falling into it.
A $40,000 grant awarded in 2015 by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program, the Nature Center will be added to matching funds from community partners to total $85, 547, Mothner said. This grant completes the comprehensive renewal project that began in 2012 when a more than $60,000 investment was made by the Nature Center and 21 other community partners to reinstate the meadow as Dunwoody’s central gathering place for communal learning and cultural activity, Mothner said.
The complete design for the Wildcat Creek restoration includes a bank full bench on both sides of the stream and a series of flood plain terraces, which will also serve as an amphitheater and “create a living classroom that allows visitors a place rest and learn while their families are experiencing Wildcat Creek,” Mothner said.
The restoration proposal includes shoring up the creek bank from the south entry point along the main trail, north to just past where the rain garden reconnects with Wildcat Creek – a total of 350 linear feet.
The first of the two project phases requires shoring up a failed weir – a remnant of the old grist mill that operated on the property a century ago. The weir potion of the project marks the southern terminus for the restoration and will be supported by the city of Dunwoody storm water division. In the second phase, the restoration will continue downstream where the majority of the bank erosion and scouring occurs for a total area restored of 3.9 acres.
This restoration effort is a singular opportunity to support and validate the Nature Center’s mission of inspiring the love of nature and cultivating environmental understanding and stewardship by conserving and enhancing Dunwoody Park; educating children, families, and adults of all ages about the natural world and our place in it; and motivating environmental awareness and responsible action, Mothner said.
Further, as a community outreach component of the grant, the Nature Center will develop programming to teach visitors about the effects of erosion and methods to prevent it, he said. The Nature Center will also continue to develop the successful immersive learning for which it is known, thus completing the initiative that was started in 2012 with the original Meadow Restoration.
Through the grant and community support, the Nature Center will continue to welcome people to the wonders of nature and to a greater understanding of their small place in the larger world, Mothner said.