Damaged greenway section re-opens
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer
Repairs along a section of trail on the Little Tennessee Greenway in Macon County damaged by hurricane flooding have been completed and the trail reopened for use, marking the end of a successful season for Friends of the Greenway.
Work on the greenway from the Big Bear Shelter in downtown Franklin to the Suli Marsh was done to fix buckled asphalt along the trail and replace railings and benches washed out during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The FROGs are still in the process of shore restoration, using riparian buffers to help prevent further erosion.
The work largely has been done using state funding for hurricane relief and volunteer labor, a sign of the greenway’s place in the community.
“I think the community is very proud of it,” said FROGs member Doris Munday.
Earlier this fall, the FROGs opened a new headquarters across from the greenway’s Big Bear Shelter at the site of the former the Wagon Wheel Restaurant and an old motel. The motel has since been torn down, said Munday, who helps manage the headquarters.
The headquarters includes offices, inventory rooms and a garage for greenway maintenance equipment, as well as an information center for those wishing to reserve greenway shelters or learn more about the greenway’s guided walks, and a gourmet coffee bar, consignment store and gift shop. The gift shop features local artisans’ works including watercolors, nature photographs, jewelry, scarves and more.
FROGs member Kaye Corriell is planning a butterfly garden as an addition to the headquarters.
“We’ve gotten the area all raked and the big stumps and things that were in there out and put a little bit of extra dirt in there to fill the holes,” Corriell said.
In October, three college students helped establish the garden, planting shrubs and trees as part of a service project. By the time it’s finished, the garden — about 30 feet by 80 feet in size, featuring a small, wandering path and benches — should feature approximately 60 different plants, manyfound along the greenway.
“It’s going to take time getting all the plants in,” Corriell said. “I’m trying to stick pretty much to the native plants. And some of them have been here such a long time that that of course the butterflies and hummingbirds use them.”
Corriell, though not a trained landscaper, is one of the original members of FROGs. She, along with fellow area residents, first became interested in the idea of a greenway in 1991, but at the time many private landowners were not willing to grant access to their property along the river.
It wasn’t until 1997 that the greenway got the go ahead, when Duke Power representatives approached Franklin town leaders with an idea of how to take advantage of the company’s plans to construct electric lines along the river. Town and county leaders agreed to work with Duke to apply for grants that would bring together the power line project with the creation of a greenway.
A year later, the Little Tennessee Watershed Association, in conjunction with Macon County government, applied for and received nearly $4 million to assist with land acquisition, preservation and restoration projects along the proposed trail.
The FROGs latest project extends the greenway all the way to Siler Road, meaning that residents can walk from downtown Franklin to the new Southwestern Community College campus and Macon County Library, set to be completed next year.