Carolina Thread Trail (1st Place Winner)
This nonprofit does a tremendous job planning a regional connection of trails throughout the area. The Thread Trail is a regional network of greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties, 2 states and 2.3 million people. There are over 250 miles of trails open to the public – linking people, places, cities, towns and attractions.
The Thread Trail preserves our natural areas and is a place for exploration of nature, culture, science and history. This is a landmark project that provides public and community benefits for everyone, in every community. These trails have aided in conservation, health, preservation and community connectivity. The Carolina Thread Trail has set in motion an effort that will allow future generations who live in Charlotte’s urban areas to enjoy the history and natural environment that the trail networks provide access to.
Tree Canopy Preservation Program, City of Charlotte (2nd Place Winner)
The City of Charlotte established the Tree Canopy Preservation Program (TCPP) to support of its “50 percent tree canopy by 2050” goal. TCPP acquires and conserves lands to preserve and protect the Queen City’s nationally recognized tree canopy. It’s a unique collaboration between multiple City and County departments, NCDENR, the NC Forest Service and local conservation organizations. TCPP uses a Tree Ordinance Mitigation Fund, paid into by developers in lieu of saving trees on commercial development sites, for property acquisition and ongoing tree preservation and maintenance.
To date, the TCPP has acquired 52 acres, with more than 140 acres on track for acquisition. That’s more than five times the acres of tree canopy that developers would have mitigated for through the fee in lieu program. The environmental benefit of TCPP includes 21,595 tons of air pollution removed, 23 million gallons of storm water intercepted and 579,449 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered.
Unlike other fee-in-lieu programs, TCPP is focused on conserving acres of existing and potential forest through conservation easements, deed restrictions and nature preserve protection status. It is 100 percent focused on urban areas within city limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Catawba Lands Conservancy (3rd Place Winner)
Catawba Lands is the leader in our region that conserves and protects natural habitats, farms and waterways. Catawba Lands works with all of the area entities to ensure our community has as much conserved land and waterways as possible.
Catawba Lands works with local land owners, farmers, public enities both locally and state to conserve land. In addition, they work in conjunction with Carolina Thread Trail to further ensure we have access to nature by building and maintain trails throughout the Carolinas.
Engineering & Property Management, City of Charlotte
Since 1987 the environmental services program of City Engineering has managed environmental liabilities at the Renaissance Park & Golf Course. The park was built over a former City landfill. Issues such as landfill settlement, methane migration and impacts to nearby streams must be handled with care as the public enjoys the park and golf course. The property must comply with EPA and OSHA regulations while providing an enjoyable public experience. Coordination with Mecklenburg County is vital as they run park operations. Doug Pierotti is the current Project Manager for E&PM.
Management of a property such as this is a true example of balancing the three pillars of Sustainability - Environment, Economics and Social.
Charlotte takes enormous pride in its lush tree canopy, which comprises almost half of the city’s land area. Trees make our city attractive, clean our air, minimize storm water runoff and provide important habitats for birds and other wildlife.
In 2011, Charlotte City Council adopted a bold, innovative goal of having 50 percent tree canopy coverage by 2050. Trees Charlotte, a public/private collaborative, was founded to carry out this objective, mostly through volunteer efforts. The city provides technical support as well as a full-time staff person to help manage city resources that ensure public events run smoothly.
This fiscal year, the TreesCharlotte team will hold more than 40 events, including plantings at schools, tree giveaways to neighborhoods, stewardship events, seedling prep activities and multiple technical trainings for volunteers. Since its inception in 2012, TreesCharlotte has planted more than 14,000 containerized trees through the efforts of over 6,300 volunteers.
It’s impossible to meet the canopy goal by planting only on public land; it must take place on private property. Nongovernment agencies are effective in community and volunteer engagement. People care deeply about their tree canopy, and TreesCharlotte ensures it’s preserved for future generations.
In April 2015, Belk Sustainability installed and opened the Belk Greenway, a walking path on the perimeter of the pond on Belk’s corporate campus, which is certified as a wildlife habitat by the NWF. The path features a bench made from two wood slabs salvaged by Carolina Urban Lumber from trees cut down in Charlotte, otherwise headed to a landfill. As part of the installation, Belk associates also planted six trees in the area, all native species. The path features an educational sign with suggestions for ways associates can connect more with nature. Belk also installed an ozone garden at its office, in partnership with Clean Air Carolina. This garden beautified what was otherwise a dull landscape, and through educational signage, illustrates the vital connection between human activity, biological health, and human health. Finally, Belk also partnered with the City of Charlotte in 2015 to install a crosswalk on Yorkmont Rd, making the walk to nearby restaurants safer for all.
The Belk Greenway is the first walking path on Belk’s campus, and its relative seclusion provides a great area for associates to relax in a natural setting. The crosswalk across Yorkmont Rd encourages associates to walk to lunch, reducing miles driven.
Sun Raised Farms
Sun Raised Farms is a collection of farmers across North Carolina who use sheep to manage the vast grazing areas under and around solar installations. Instead of wasting money on fossil fuels, chemicals, and mowing machines Sun Raised Farms invests in local farmers and their sheep to do the ground maintenance and look after the land. The local farmers raise healthy hormone and pesticide free sheep on the grounds of the solar farms. The sheep graze and keep the grass down during the growing season so the grass and weeds don't shade the solar panels.