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Eastside Trail's Green Spaces to Get 'Prairie' Treatment

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Green spaces along the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail will soon take on a decidedly prairie feel, with more than 11 acres of native grasses supplanting what's currently a mud-grass patchwork. Beltline leaders are seeking volunteers to help plant 109,000 grass plugs between March and May. The result — tall, wispy, waving grass — will be an aesthetic upgrade, but it could discourage runners and picnickers who favor the grass to the trail's concrete. Then again, that could be the point.

Throughout the spring, the west side of the path (the one closest to the city) will be infused with native grasses and flowers to create the prairie; Beltline officials say this environ provides food, protection and homes for birds, butterflies and bees, while cutting out mowing costs. What's more, select hillsides on the eastern side of the path will also be planted, for a total of 8.5 prairie-fied acres this year. Another few acres will be planted on the path's eastern flank next year. It takes the grasses about six months to establish — so expect protective netting to be placed within two feet of the trail "in order to keep feet, paws and wheels from damaging the delicately growing ecosystem," project leaders said.

Big picture, the 11-acre meadow will be a significant segment of the larger Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, which will ring the entire 22-mile loop around the city. Expect "fifteen Georgia grasses and 28 flower species (to) add texture and bursts of color along the length of the trail."

How does news of this Beltline prairie sound to you? Is it what you had in mind? Do you think patrons will respect the grasses and keep out?

· Trees Atlanta to plant 109,000 native grass plugs on Eastside Trail [Beltline.org]
· Is the Beltline Too Crowded Already? Some Think So [Curbed Atlanta]