Green Places: Restoring Pockets of Nature in Charlotte | Catawba Lands Conservancy
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Green Places: Restoring Pockets of Nature in Charlotte

If you drive through the Biddleville or Greenville neighborhoods of Charlotte, you probably won’t notice the quiet, unassuming little parcels of undeveloped property scattered throughout. These unremarkable, some might even say unsightly, little pieces of land are owned by the City of Charlotte. Despite their current state, the City’s Tree Canopy Preservation Program (TCPP) team sees potential. It is using the parcels to create public green spaces, called the Urban Arboretum Trail (UAT), and Catawba Lands Conservancy is collaborating with TCPP to advise and provide guidance on the work. The City’s vision for the UAT has long been in the works: a string of revitalized natural spaces, connected with sidewalks and paths, providing oases of nature within the urban environment and encouraging outdoor recreation.
During this partnership, supported by a $25,000 grant from Bank of America, the Conservancy team will be working with Tree Canopy Programs Manager Tara Moore, and the rest of the TCPP staff, to plan and implement restoration work on a number of the UAT parcels. That could mean planting native species of trees, bringing in pollinator plants or finding other ways to activate the space for the community. Each property will have a unique approach, based on its individual location and characteristics.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with the City on this project. The Conservancy team is providing our expertise on restoring native habitats, which we have used to improve our conserved properties for decades. By working together, we’ll be able to transform these parcels into pocket parks, green spaces…maybe even a native grassland habitat,” said Will Ruark, Conservation Preserve Manager for the Conservancy. “These enhancements will have a positive impact on the entire area, offering valuable green space for the community and providing crucial habitat for creatures that call Charlotte home.”
Tara Moore, the Tree Canopy Programs Manager for the City of Charlotte, is just as energized by the possibilities. “Working with the Catawba Lands Conservancy to improve UAT is an amazing opportunity. We’ll be able to better understand what areas of Charlotte to target for tree canopy conservation, and be more focused in those efforts.”

Addressing Environmental Inequities

Biddleville and Greenville, both historically majority-Black neighborhoods of Charlotte, have suffered from a lack of green infrastructure, making them more susceptible to air pollution, flooding and higher temperatures, while also depriving residents of the health and economic benefits provided by trees and green spaces. With some strategic planning and partnership, these spaces will provide those much-needed community benefits. The UAT also overlaps with the Carolina Thread Trail near Irwin Creek Greenway in West Charlotte, providing residents with additional opportunities to explore and experience nature.

A Proven Partnership

This isn’t the first time the Conservancy has worked with the City of Charlotte to protect our tree canopy. Over the years, we have worked together to conserve more than 230 acres of land across Charlotte, protecting tree canopy, clean air and water quality. That partnership is ongoing, with 75 more acres currently in the conservation pipeline.

Every conservation project, large or small, has an impact on the quality of life – building up resilience and giving communities a place to connect with nature. With a blank slate provided by the UAT properties, and a proven track record of collaboration, it’s clear that this partnership will make a significant impact.


Header photo by Nancy Pierce. Additional photos by Conservancy and Thread Trail staff.