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Daily Memphian: Volunteers help restore Raleigh section of Wolf River Greenway

Wolf Mountain Howling
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Wolf River Conservancy
January 13, 2024

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Daily Memphian: Volunteers help restore Raleigh section of Wolf River Greenway

A Memphis nonprofit started its 2024 river restoration series with a community project Jan. 13 in Raleigh in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Now in its fourth year, the Wolf River Conservancy’s restoration series invites volunteers to cleanup and improve areas on the Wolf River Greenway, a path along the Wolf River that stretches through the city. When complete, the Greenway will be 26 miles long.

The day of service focused on the Epping Way portion of the Greenway, and participants worked on three projects in the 138-acre section: trash cleanup around the 20-acre lake, tree planting and bird nest box installation.

The conservancy will host three additional community volunteer days in the next four months, each sponsored by Brother International Corp.

“Dr. King famously said, ‘everyone can be great, you just have to serve,’” Wolf River Conservancy executive director Erik Houston said. “Every one of us has an opportunity to make our community better, and that’s what today is all about.”

“We really feel that if people are on the ground caring for the land, learning about the beauty of Memphis, they’ll care for the community and they’ll care for Memphis.”

Erik Houston - Wolf River Conservancy

Houston became the nonprofit’s executive director this year after longtime leader Keith Cole retired in December 2023. Houston views the Epping Way section as the centerpiece of the conservancy’s work.

“We put a ton of effort, blood, sweat and tears into improving this property for the community,” Houston said. “We’re turning a toxic dumpsite off of Highland Road into a beautiful, forested area for the community to enjoy.”

According to Houston, Saturday’s volunteer group installed 12 nest boxes, planted 100 trees and took out 15 large bags of trash from the property.

Keith Cole found his soul in building up the Wolf River Conservancy

“We use this property here to demonstrate the value of environmental conservation,” he said.

Vickie Berry, the manager of Environmental, Health and Safety at Brother USA led the nesting box project for volunteers and represented the company at the event. The boxes will provide wildlife habitat for birds like the Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee and the Prothonotary warbler.

“(The conservancy) were really looking for someone to kind of advocate for these programs and kind of basically provide the financial support,” Berry said. “So that's how we started.”

Since the partnership began in 2020, Brother International has contributed more than $100,000 to the group’s restoration projects.

Epping Way’s Greenway return comes as other parts of Raleigh estate vanish

Julia Hale, a legislative analyst for Memphis City City District 2, volunteered for the tree-planting project during the event. She says moments like this are a plus for Memphis communities.

“It helps to maintain confidence that our city is beautiful,” Hale said. “To restore that confidence that our city is beautiful.”

Houston agrees.

“We really feel that if people are on the ground caring for the land, learning about the beauty of Memphis, they’ll care for the community and they’ll care for Memphis.”

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