Conservation deal preserves 216 acres of green space in southeast Atlanta

The Atlanta City Council has approved the acquisition of a 216-acre nature preserve in southeast Atlanta. The property includes one of the largest old-growth forests in Atlanta among its more than 60,000 trees.

Informally known as Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve, the land sits near where Moreland Avenue meets I-285. It was at risk for industrial development in an area that is heavy with shipping companies and truck repair shops.

In partnership with the city, two years ago, the Conservation Fund designated the property as a high priority as they worked to identify land that would increase the city’s tree canopy.

The $4.5 million purchase is the Conservation Fund’s largest purchase in the city of Atlanta to preserve green space. The Conservation Fund purchased the land from Waste Management in December.

For the first time, the city of Atlanta will use funds from the tree ordinance to purchase the property from the Conservation Fund, said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The ordinance, which charges fees for cutting down trees, was amended several years ago to allow the city to use the money to purchase mature forests in addition to planting new trees.

Once the purchase is complete this summer, the Department of Parks and Recreation will work to allow public access to the preserve, including nature trails. The department will also assume responsibility for management and maintenance of the property.

“The Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve acquisition is a signature priority in City Design’s Urban Ecology Framework, demonstrating how we can design a City that protects its most critical natural areas, preserves tree canopy, watersheds and natural habitats, while also creating one of the best areas for Atlanta residents to access nature and new recreational opportunities inside the City,” said Planning Commissioner Tim Keane in a statement.

The name, Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve, is a historical reference to the lake, trails and homes that populated the area many years ago, said a spokeswoman for the Conservation Fund. It had been owned by Waste Management since 1989 and has not been open to the public.