Since August of 2016, the Friends of CSNA have been in the process of working with the City of Grenada to stop a planned timber sale at Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area. The city made plans to cut all of their forested properties to help with a financial crisis. The Friends of Chakchiuma Swamp believed we could create a plan so that both the City and the Friends could have what is necessary to ensure the best for the community. For the City it was a lump sum of money for the Friends of CSNA, our swamp forest protected by conservation agreement. We have put our heads together to come up with a mutualistic plan!
In the summer of 2016, the city hired a timber management company to manage a bidding process including the 300 acres of Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area and the forest along the south bank of the Yalobusha River. Trees were cruised. A list was made of 6,415 trees by species.
This list combined with conversations with local foresters gave us an idea – sell the trees for their timber value to folks who would like to be friends with a living tree! It turns out that the average tree in our swamp was valued between $20 and $50 per ton. We felt pretty sure our community would invest. The City could have the money, Friends of CSNA could secure the forest habitat and hundreds of people could have the pleasure of having a tree friend with all of it’s other plant and animal friends!
Lots of work, news stories, research, time, patience, open minds, conversations and trust from the City, Friends and investors happened. We raised over $17,000 in 8 weeks. A matching donor invested in the vision of a community nature park matched our funds with .50 on the dollar raising it to $26,748.
In April of 2017 the City of Grenada Council voted to reject timber bids and a Conservation Easement is on the table.
We believe the economic value of the Chakchiuma Swamp to City of Grenada is greater than the value of the timber sale – $270,000.00. The proximity of such a intact wetland habitat to an urban area makes this an amazing asset for wildlife, community and tourism.
This is such a special place!
It connects a large tract of public land at Grenada Lake & the Yalobusha River to Downtown Grenada. It is a haven for both wildlife and humans. It is a link in the chain of increasingly fragmented native plant communities with an extra unique combo of loess ridges, bottomland forest and cypress-tupelo oxbows.
In 2009 the City Council approved the creation of Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area as a public recreation and wildlife conservation area. The City Council also approved it’s placement in the Natural Heritage Area Program through Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as an “outstanding natural area” including threatened and unique species – Copper iris (Iris fulva), cypress knee sedge (Carex decomposita) and turk’s cap lily (Lilium superbum)
What are our Goals?
- protect the 300 acre area with a conservation easement and timber management plan protecting forest habitat
- partner with the City of Grenada and Wildlife Mississippi to facilitate the creation of 4 miles of hiking trails with boardwalks, benches and shelters, 2 miles of kayaking trails in the old river channel, habitat management for the 300 acre area, educational kiosks, 30+ educational signs with a gated, low maintenance design.
- work with NRCS to create an outdoor classroom and learning area
- work with community organizations to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity in relationship to Chakchiuma Swamp
Leadership and vision for trail construction, wildlife conservation, trail maintenance and wildlife management is a partnership between Friends of Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area, Wildlife Mississippi and other organizations such as USFWS, Grenada Tourism, MS Forestry Commission, Grenada Community Foundation, Downtown Innovation District, Grenada School District.
Economic & Community Benefits of protecting Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area:
Downtown Grenada includes the Downtown Innovation District, Historic Homes and Chakchiuma Swamp. These are the primary tourist attractions for the city.
Our vision for Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area as it relates to the community:
Boys & Girls Club, Grenada School District, Holmes Community College, Garden Club Workshops, teacher training, painting workshops, homeschool programs, naturalist workshops
hiking, kayaking, fishing, birdwatching, photography, painting, nature walks, picnics
Downtown Grenada complex
maintaining attractiveness and beauty when driving to downtown from the north or out to the lake. This place is very special to residents and a great first impression to potential residents.
Grenada Community Quality of Life
This is a place to gather or spend time alone. Healthy habitat offers more options for future use like the addition of outdoor recreational facilities including pavilions, picnic tables, boardwalks and a Grenada Lake connection over the river
This map depicts our vision for a Grenada Nature Park. A trailhead will be on the beautiful downtown square. with others on the north and south ends of the forest.