Urban stream cleanup gives Village Creek at East Lake Park new life

Urban stream cleanup gives Village Creek at East Lake Park new life
Last week's Village Creek cleanup was part of a larger, ongoing project to improve East Lake Park and its surroundings. (Charlestan Helton/Alabama NewsCenter)

Volunteers of all backgrounds came out to East Lake Park to help with an urban stream cleanup July 23-26.

Forest managers, conservation specialists, youths, local high school students and football players cleaned trash and invasive plants out of Village Creek in Birmingham.

Through this event, several invasive plant species, such as privet, mimosa and nandina, as well as trash, were removed from the creek.

East Lake cleanup takes out invasive plants for a healthier urban forest from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Residents were excited to see the park cleaned.

“We had several people from the surrounding community request we cut the lower limbs of the trees on the creek banks that currently block the view from the park to First Avenue South,” said Francesca Gross, urban conservation manager for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). She said visitors feel safer if they can see the street from the park.

The cleanup was part of a larger, ongoing project to clean the area. The event and continuing cleanup are funded by a Five Star Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through Southern Company sponsored by TNC. Partners in the Village Creek Tree Canopy Restoration include TNC,  Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, Village Creek Society, Cawaco RC&D Council and the city of Birmingham.

East Lake Park, founded in 1886, has worn many hats over the years, including an amusement park, zoo, concert venue, water slide and other attractions. Nowadays, the park has a walking trail, pond, fishing piers, senior citizens program and swimming pool.

Gross said TNC is planning more stream restoration activities in the fall. For more information, visit the website and find TNC on Facebook.

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