A greenway area at Heritage Center, the former K-25 site, has been designated as a certified wildlife habitat site by the National Wildlife Federation.
The 26-acre area is part of the Heritage Center Greenway, which includes trails, ponds, and close-by rivers, a press release said. The greenway provides public access to meadow and wildlife habitat areas that allow viewing of more than 200 species of birds and water fowl, including nesting pairs of bald eagles and osprey.
“Our vision for the site was to create a natural, park-like setting with greenways and conserved land,” said Lawrence Young, president and chief executive officer of the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee. “Not only is this the best way to revitalize Heritage Center and make it attractive to potential businesses, it saves money, helps our environment, and wildlife, and it makes the property accessible to our community.”
The release said this new certified habitat joins NWF’s roll of more than 150,000 certified habitats nationwide. Wildlife habitats are important to year-round wildlife residents as well as species that migrate, such as some birds and butterflies. Each habitat is unique for both beauty and function.
“Providing a home for wildlife in our communities—whether it’s at home, or in schools, businesses, or parks—is the demonstration of a healthy and active ecosystem,” said David Mizejewski, NWF naturalist. “There is no more rewarding way to stay connected to nature right outside your door.”
The greenway trails cover approximately 15 acres, or two miles of walking paths, and they include a closed, paved road, a walking trail along the pond lined with bird houses, and a loop trail along one edge of the pond. There are trail markers and brochure holders at strategic points throughout the trail.
The press release said Heritage Center LLC, the organization primarily responsible for the redevelopment efforts, decided early on to convert large open tracts of non-native vegetation back to native warm season grass meadows. This conversion ended the expensive and polluting activities associated with routine mowing of these tracts and created self-sustaining meadow environments that are aesthetically pleasing year-round and provides habitat to wildlife species under pressure due to habitat loss.
“Heritage Center LLC is committed to the meadow conversion practice as it continues to further develop the business park,” Young said.
NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years, the release said.
“The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks, and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife friendly,” it said.
For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit www.nwf.org/habitat or call (800) 822-9919.
For more information about CROET, visit www.croet.com.