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Official: 700 Beltline Trees Are Only the Beginning

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Big picture, plant life around the Atlanta Beltline is planned to be a full-blown urban ecosystem soon. In tune with the project's master plan, the Beltline is becoming an "arboretum," or a botanical garden that focuses on woody plants, the executive director of Trees Atlanta, Greg Levine, recently told the AJC. Thus far, nearly 700 trees with 61 varieties have been planted along the Beltline. And that's only the beginning. Earlier this month, city crews and volunteers began planting wildflower meadows — 12 species of grass, and 32 native wildflowers — on the Eastside Trail near North Avenue. Beltline leaders are seeking volunteers to help plant 109,000 grass plugs between March and May. Don't expect to see a flowery explosion this year, but you might see conflict as the plantings start.

Levine told the AJC the new wildflower plantings will be too young for a good bloom their first year, but if "everything goes well, the grasses will be tall by fall." Watching the activity patterns of Eastside Trail patrons, especially on weekends, should raise concerns that anything planted off the concrete will be trampled, or at least bisected by bicycle/runner-worn paths. Maybe it's not feasible, but would a mulch trail that parallels the path within the tall grasses be a suitable alternative? Sure, it would encourage patrons to leave the path, but it could relegate runners and mountain bikers to a specific area. Given the Eastside Trail's popularity, it's foolish to think everyone will keep off the grass.

Before you unleash the hatemail, we understand the AJC comments section is largely the province of uninformed or spiteful suburbanites who view the inner city as a crime-ridden hellhole. But check out this amusing excerpt from a fear-mongering lunatic calling himself Bernie31. Regarding the extra Beltline foliage, Bernie31 ventures here: "Can Not Wait for the many ROBBERIES - ASSUALTS and RAPES and daily Open SEX ACTS to START! ? Many Crimminals woud (sic) like to express their SINCERE gratitude for preparing a place for them to commit their HEINOUS ACTS."

· Intown arboretum grows along the Beltline [AJC]
· Take A Unique Natural Journey Through Atlanta's Living Past, Present, and Future [Beltline.org]
· Eastside Trail's Green Spaces to Get 'Prairie' Treatment [Curbed Atlanta]