Be a Forest Friend…
Your contribution will make a difference!
buy a tree.
secure a forest.
invest in conservation.
Not many cities have a wild heart! Grenada is a rare place where the natural world and public land not only surround, but also exists in the very heart of downtown.
The Chakchiuma Swamp (CS), a 300 acre property belonging to the City of Grenada , Mississippi that can be found just north of the historic downtown. Chakchiuma Swamp is part of a continuous green corridor featuring the Yalobusha River, Bogue Creek and a large tract of the US Army Corps bottomland forest connecting to Grenada Lake. In 2009, it was identified as a Natural Heritage Area by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks for its outstanding native habitat and biodiversity.
In 2009 a grassroots group of volunteers organized the Friends of Chakchiuma Swamp (FCS). In 2010, the Grenada City Council approved the the establishment of Chakchiuma Swamp as a natural area. In the following year, the FCS worked with city employees and US Fish & Wildlife Service to enhance the natural habitats of Chakchiuma Swamp to make it easy for the community to use and enjoy this very accessible forest.
In 2016, when the city found itself in need of large funds to remain fiscally responsible, a city wide timber harvest seemed the only answer. A company was hired to cruise the forests and the bids went out. When we learned of the impending harvest, we came up with an idea inspired by the bid sheet and approached the council with a creative solution. The city stood firm by their financial goals and timber sale but gave the FCS a green light to put our idea into action. In turn, our fundraising efforts began.
The ‘Big Idea’ is to find “Forest Friends” who can “buy” trees for their timber value so they could remain in the forest. Not only would this save each tree, encourage citizens and other visitors to the area, it could generate the same amount of revenue as the timber sale, allowing the forest to remain.
To our small group, it seemed impossible to reach the goal of $300,000 in the time frame allowed, we would not give up. Our campaign on Facebook and GoFundMe.com set our campaign on fire!! With your help, we were able to raise over $8,000 in the first few months of our program, with nearly 500 trees Friended over the past year.
The Grenada Community Foundation did not hesitate to make FCS a dba so we could fundraise. The FCS and supporters reached out to conservation organizations, local garden & civic clubs and individuals who were connected with the swamp. Advanced Distributor Products and other local individuals generously provided initial operating funds for FCS so we could move forward. James Cummins, director of Wildlife Mississippi, even agreed to build four miles of trails if the forest remained uncut.
The tables turned in 2017 when a generous businessman heard the story and felt moved to be involved. His generosity and warmth, coupled with the vision of FCS and the willingness of city manager, Trey Baker, to foster this unique approach. The seemingly random associations connected, to make the impossible possible.
Trey Baker, a Grenada native son and newly hired city manager, understands the long-term benefits of a nature park to the city but was under pressure to bring in revenue. Ultimately, Baker’s leadership qualities and open mind were instrumental in negotiating a long term lease between the city and FCS for the $300,000.
In April 2017, the City Council agreed to reject the timber bids. In October 2017, the Grenada City Council voted unanimously on a long term lease agreement and conservation management plan with the Friends of CS.
This unique solution has been a win-win situation for everyone—a city council wishing to manage resources in the best way for their city, citizens interested in quality of life for their community, and a rapidly dwindling wild world preserved for the future.
Thank you to our generous donors - without your help, we would not have been able to share the vision of conservation & community development with the City of Grenada.
The Friends of CSNA is a grassroots nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization operating in Grenada, Mississippi. Your donation may be tax deductible.
Our mission is to assist the City of Grenada in the conservation and management of biodiversity with the vision of a nature park destination for our community to enjoy!
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP!
Here’s how it works:
The timber value of each tree is based on its species, height and diameter. Approximately 1,500 of our trees have each been tagged by forestry students and range in value from $25 - $125.
You can make a difference, all you have to do is buy one or more trees. And to make it more fun, you get to select the tree.
Instead of having a sale for harvesting we’re having a sale for saving!
1. Make a contribution.
Your donation corresponds to one of our selected trees, based on it’s approximate timber value.
2. In return, our 'Forest Friend' you will receive:
A detail of your symbolic adoption:
Each tree will be tagged with a number and have it's location recorded on a map.
Your tree "friend" will share your name or the name of your choosing.
Each "Forest Friend" will receive a bio about your tree and a watercolor print by Robin Whitfield which will include the name and number and location of your tree at Lee Tartt Nature Preserve on the back.
Species that will be included in our include bald cypress, yellow poplar, cherry bark oak, over cup oak, water oak, sweet gum, red maple, hickory and other mixed hardwoods.
Buy a tree.
Secure a forest.
Invest in Conservation.
In February 2018, Robin Whitfield was recognized for her continued efforts, and accomplishments by receiving the Air, Soil and Water Conservationist of the Year (2017) Award, offered by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.
In the spring of 2018, Lee Tartt Nature Preserve, containing the Chakchiuma Swamp, was born! It is named for a local fallen State Law Officer by request of the FCS’s philanthropist. The name of this well loved service man paired with conservation efforts of FCS are bringing the community and partners together in new ways. Dedication of this site will coincide with Fallen Officer's Week, on Friday May 18th.
In early May 2018, the Friends of CS were recognized in partnership with the City of Grenada by the Mississippi Municipal League Excellence Award.
In July 2018, the Friends of CS were awarded our own 501(c)(3) recognition.
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center ecologists are currently working on the Land Use Management Plan. Holmes Community College forestry students are mapping and tagging trees for the “Forest Friends” campaign. Mississippi State University Landscape Architecture students are working alongside hired landscape architecture firm, Native Habitats Inc, to develop a program and Master Plan for the preserve.
The Downtown Innovation District, Grenada Chamber of Commerce and Grenada Tourism Authority are promoting and directing people downtown to this unusual Main St. attraction. Grenada Public Schools, Holmes Community College and Delta State University Outdoor Recreation Program are incorporating the area into their classes.
We have established a monthly calendar of free events with expert guides in partnership with the Grenada Health and Wellness Community Council. Other field trips occur weekly with surrounding schools, clubs, scout groups, youth groups and home schoolers. Birders & naturalists come to experience the great diversity and kayakers find a beautiful retreat in the cypress and tupelo forest. “Forest Friends” come to see their tree and the forest they helped protect. Working with Grenada Parks and Recreation and the Boys and Girls Club are goals for the coming years.
THANK YOU TO OUR CURRENT SPONSORS & DONORS FOR THIS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT YOUR HELP!
We are proud to be a part helping our city become all it can be! This is a community project that is about all of us working together!
We are grateful for our community partners:
The City of Grenada
Grenada Tourism Authority
Grenada Chamber of Commerce
Grenada Parks & Recreation
Strawbery Plains Audubon Center
Mississippi State Landscape Architecture Program
Advanced Distributor Products
Holmes Community College
Delta State University Outdoor Recreation Program
Grenada Garden Club
Greenthumb Garden Club
Grenada Downtown Innovation District
Grenada Health & Wellness Community Council
Together, our vision is to provide opportunities for all people to experience first hand the beauty of biodiversity in a healthy wetland habitat conveniently located in the heart of Grenada.
Buy a tree. Secure a forest. Invest in Conservation.
Visit Friends of CSNA for more info.
Kayak tour for two adults. Arrangements will be made personally by Robin Whitfield. Dates & details to be determined.
Original watercolor painting of Chakchiuma Swamp by Robin Whitfield. This one of a kind piece, chosen at the artist's discretion, will be souvenir of your generous gift, and contribution to the preservation of CS. Artwork will be framed in a custom ash frame. Details to be determined.
- Nancy Anderson
- Scott Catington