by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
On Friday, October 19, 2018, the Atlanta Audubon Society recognized the City of Atlanta’s McDaniel Branch Wetlands as an Atlanta Audubon Certified Wildlife Sanctuary. The designation has been a collaborative effort between Atlanta Audubon Society and the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM).
“Atlanta Audubon is thrilled to partner with the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management to add McDaniel Branch and other wetland areas to our network of more than 450 certified wildlife habitats in Atlanta and north Georgia,” said Melinda Langston, Atlanta Audubon board member and Wildlife Sanctuary program coordinator.
The Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary program encourages both private and public properties to enhance their land for birds and other wildlife by installing native plants and providing food, water, and shelter for birds and other wildlife. “The welfare of birds and other wildlife is directly linked to the quality of food and shelter available to them,” says Langston. “The plantings used in the McDaniel Branch not only help hold the stream banks in place and improve water quality, but they also create valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife.”
This 12-acre property is nestled between the south Atlanta and High Point area of the city, and over the past year, plantings of a variety of native plant species have been underway, including wild rye, river oats, black- and brown-eyed Susan, partridge pea, ironweed, Joe-Pye weed, and Mexican hat coneflower. In addition, dozens of native trees, shrubs, aquatics, and riparian fringe species have been planted around the ponds, including red maple, river birch, overcup oak, water oak, American hornbeam, redbud, dogwood, beautyberry, button bush, sweetshrub, spicebush, and witch hazel.
The McDaniel Branch stormwater project was designed to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff in and around Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods. The constructed wetlands central to this project mimic natural systems for managing stormwater. As a way to help hold the stream banks of the McDaniel Branch Wetlands in place, the Department of Watershed Management’s Green Infrastructure team installed a number of aquatic and riparian fringe plants, including flatstem spikerush, swamp sunflower, Louisiana iris, pickleweed, bluestem, upland sea oats, cardinal flower and cinnamon fern. A mowing plan has also been implemented to allow native plants to thrive and avoid harming ground-nesting birds and other wildlife during the nesting season.
The wetland is home to variety of bird species, including the Wood Thrush, Green Heron, Orchard Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, and Red-headed Woodpecker.
The McDaniel Branch Wetlands is located at 441 Bowen Circle SW, Atlanta, GA 30315 and is open to the public. If you live in the area, Atlanta Audubon Society encourages you to check it out for birding and outdoor recreation.
For more information on certifying a property as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, visit https://www.atlantaaudubon.org/wildlife-sanctuary-certification.html.