Clean urban creeks may be an achievable goal

The 1972 federal Clean Water Act mandates that the nation’s rivers and streams be made clean enough for “fishing and swimming.” Still, many of our metro Atlanta streams — such as Peachtree and Proctor creeks — are so degraded from decades of pollution that making them healthy again has seemed an impossible, cost-prohibitive task.

But, with the “green” movement gaining force locally (spurred, in part, by the Atlanta Beltline), urban stream restoration no longer seems unattainable. Several groups — the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, the PATH Foundation, neighborhood organizations and others — are committed to helping rehabilitate metro Atlanta’s waterways.

One group, the Peachtree Creek Greenway, is building a 12-mile linear park and path along the north fork of Peachtree Creek to connect northeast metro communities to one another and to the Atlanta Beltline.

The mission of another group, the South Fork Conservancy, is to restore the badly damaged south fork of Peachtree Creek and create 31 miles of streamside trails that also link communities to the Beltline.

The conservancy is well aware that it has a long way to go to meet its goals (sewage spills, for instance, are still a big problem), but its cleanup effort so far has created healthier habitat for wildlife along the creek.

That was evident last weekend when I was part of a group of about 40 people taking a walk along two of the conservancy’s new trails — the Meadow Loop Trail and the Confluence Trail. They led to the spot near the junction of I-85 and Ga. 400 where the south and north forks join and form the main stem of Peachtree Creek, which flows 8 miles to the Chattahoochee. In addition to South Fork Conservancy members, our group included folks from Atlanta Audubon, the Georgia Native Plant Society, Trees Atlanta and others.

During our 1.5 hour stroll, we tallied 29 bird species and saw many late-summer wildflower species in full bloom, which attracted numerous bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

In the sky: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be full Friday — the famed Harvest Moon. The Cherokee peoples called it the "Nut Moon." Venus is low in the west and Mars and Saturn are in the southwest around nightfall. Mercury and Jupiter are not easily seen right now.