From the time of its founding, the Garden Club of America has been an active force in the promotion of environmental awareness and the preservation of natural resources. In 1921, one of the four founding GCA members testified before Congress on behalf of the parks of Washington, DC. The Conservation Committee was one of the earliest GCA committees established, and many GCA members were active in the 1930s in the battle to save the redwoods.
In the 1960s, as the environmental movement grew strongly in response to growing alarm about pollution and species loss in our country, the GCA's legislative involvement grew along with it. In June, 1969, the National Affairs and Legislation Committee was established as a separate entity from the Conservation Committee.
In the words of Mrs. Thomas Waller,a primary founder and former GCA president, the purpose of NAL is to "bring to the attention of the membership important legislative proposals in Washington which fall within the fields of our endeavor."
The NAL and Conservation Committees work in tandem to enhance the GCA mission to "restore, improve, and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement." Although NAL and Conservation committees meet together, their purposes and functions are different. NAL follows in detail legislation that ultimately affects the above purpose, while Conservation provides education on the environmental issues themselves. Conservation Committee members work with youth, member clubs, and the general public to promote local conservation projects and responsible environmental stewardship.
Click here to: Read GCA Conservation Watch Magazine
Click here to: Read Garden Club of America Position Papers
by Louie Schwartzberg
An excerpt from the feature documentary by Louie Schwartzberg following notable mycologist, Paul Stamets, as he discusses the important role mushrooms play in the survival and health of the earth and human species.
Davidson County’s rich tapestry of farmland, historic landscapes and rivers and streams have long inspired artists, attracted entrepreneurs and corporations and drawn college students and retirees looking to call Nashville home. To nurture these assets, and ensure that future generations will be equally inspired, the Open Space Plan for Davidson County was launched. Motivated by Nashville Mayor Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee's recommendation to make open space planning a priority for Davidson County, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and The Land Trust for Tennessee formed a public/private effort in 2009. With funding from The Martin Foundation and the Metro Council, The Land Trust for Tennessee organized an intense search for a cutting-edge team to undertake a year-long planning and public involvement process for crafting the open space plan.
Under the leadership of Mayor Karl Dean, the open space plan became a priority for Davidson County.
The project is managed by The Land Trust for Tennessee with direct involvement from a technical advisory committee comprised of a broad range of public and private sector leaders. There will be a wide range of opportunities for community input during the planning process.
The Land Trust for Tennessee organized the planning and public involvement process for crafting the open space plan.
Nashville is on the forefront of a national trend in urban areas, where cash-strapped government leaders can't afford haphazard conservation any longer and are actively seeking a more cost-effective conservation strategy.
Based on our national expertise in green infrastructure planning, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Land Trust for Tennessee selected the Fund to lead a team to develop an open space plan for Davidson County. Our goal was to develop the most progressive open space protection strategy in the Southeast. The result is Nashville: Naturally, the first conservation plan that maps every inch of protected open space in Davidson County—and charts a clear vision for how to protect and connect this green infrastructure.
The Garden Club of Nashville has embarked on a wonderful opportunity to support Nashville Parks through the Open Spaces Plan
These open space anchors include:
Northwest: a corridor of conservation lands anchored by Beaman Park to the north and Bells Bend Park to the south.
Southwest: an arc of lands including the Harpeth River Valley, Natchez Trace Parkway, Warner Parks, the West Meade and Forest Hills forests and hilltops, and Radnor Lake State Natural Area.
Northeast: a network of conservation lands connect- ing several historic sites (including The Hermitage, Clover Bottom, Two Rivers Mansion, and Stone Hall), existing and potential parks along the Cumberland River (including Shelby Bottoms, an expanded Peeler Park, Two Rivers Park, Heartland Park, and Stones River Greenway), and protected farms and wetlands in Neely’s and Pennington bends.
Opportunities with access to the river, serve as necessary buffers against floodwaters and help to improve water quality by acting as a natural filter.
Southeast: an anchor park or network of smaller parks within the watersheds of Mill Creek, Seven Mile Creek and Browns Creek, connected to each other and to protected land around J. Percy Priest Lake by an expanded greenway network.
In the center is downtown, which should become a
heart of green. A green, thriving urban core will have more parks and greenways, a revitalized riverfront with a network of open spaces, a substantial increase in tree canopy, and innovations such as green roofs and rain gar- dens that capture and filter stormwater. This would build upon the existing green space in Bicentennial Mall, Public Square, Ft. Negley, and opportunities along the riverfront, such as the site of Nashville’s former thermal plant.
There should be protected land in each of the nine bends in the Cumberland River, which contain Davidson County’s most fertile agricultural soil, offer recreationalopportunities with access to the river, serve as necessary buffers against floodwaters and help to improve water quality by acting as a natural filter.
Together, these resources should be connected. Gaps should be filled to link all of the four corners to each other and “pearls on the necklace” should be protected along stream corridors and greenways. By bicycle or on foot, one should be able to travel from one corner of the county to another and into downtown via greenways or bikeways.
OPEN SPACE GOALS
The following near- and mid-term goals represent ambitious but achievable targets identified by the planning design team as consistent with this plan’s vision and the goal of making Nashville the green- est city in the Southeast. Just as the creation of this plan was the result of a public/private partnership and community input, achieving these targets will require a similar balance of public and private com- mitment and investment.
• Create a series of new small parks and landscaped gateways in the next 10 years in the downtown area.
• Double the downtown tree canopy in the next 10 years (85 acres).
• Transition 110 acres (20%) of the suitable impervious surfaces in downtown to pervious surfaces or natural plantings in the next 10 years.
• Add 3,000 acres of parkland in the next 10 years. This will increase the Metro Parks system by approxi- mately 30%. Add another 3,000 acres of parkland by 2035.
• Establish a heritage tourism trail in the next five years that highlights Nashville’s historic and prehistoric landscapes and sites.
• Privately conserve a minimum of 3,000 acres of Nashville’s green infrastructure network in the next 10 years, and an additional 3,000 acres by 2035.
• Double the amount of local food produced in David- son County and triple the number of Davidson County farms selling direct to consumers in the next five years.
• Protect an additional 10,000 acres of floodplain and other sensitive natural areas via low impact develop- ment, land swaps and regulatory innovations in the next 10 years.
The remainder of this plan describes Nashville’s natural resources, the planning process that generated this open space vision, and policy recommendations for bringing it to fruition.
• Of the above 22,000 acres, protect at least 1,500 acres for sustainable agricultural uses.
• Establish an anchor park, or series of parks, in South- east Nashville in the next five years.
• Establish large-scale preserves or other protected land in every bend of the Cumberland River in the next 10 years.
• Improve key park and greenway linkages by adding 25 miles of new greenways in the next 5 years. Prioritize linkages in the Mill Creek watershed, the Gulch and connections from the riverfront to the convention center.
Envisioned are large reserves of protected open space in each of the four corners of the county that serve as anchors for the open space network.