New park will be set up alongside Rae's Creek

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In past decades, the boggy sliver of land along Ingleside Drive offered residents protection from periodic floods.

Today, as a holding of the Central Savannah River Land Trust, the site enjoys permanent protection from development or destruction - and soon will become a park.

"We haven't had the opportunity - until now - to make this property a showcase," said Hazel Langrall, the trust's program manager. "It's going to be called the Rae's Creek Community Garden."

The Land Trust, she explained, has become a partner with the Salvation Army's Enterprise Team and jointed forces to establish a series of low-maintenance gardens along the site, which borders Rae's Creek.

"We've already planted lots of trees - willow oaks, baldcypress, magnolias," she said. "We're in the process of designing themed beds. There will be a wetlands area, a native garden and a butterfly garden."

The Salvation Army's role in the project involves providing labor through its Enterprise Team, an initiative in which homeless or undertrained people learn job skills through projects undertaken by the Salvation Army.

"Some of these guys helping out on this project are in our day labor programs and some are in emergency shelters," said Derek Dugan, the Salvation Army's development director. "They're getting skills through this program and also learning new skills in classrooms."

The evolving park already has a flagstone walkway and steps to Rae's Creek, but there is much more to come," Ms. Langrall said.

"We're using a technique called xeroscaping, which is to blend things with what's already there to make it low maintenance," she said. "For example, if you're in the desert with no water, you build a rock garden."

Along Rae's Creek, there is ample opportunity to showcase native plants such as the bottlebrush buckeye and to create beds for flowering plants that will attract insects. Fertilization and maintenance will be kept to a minimum.

"This is a place the community can visit to experience what we do," she said. "It's for people to come out and see why we're conserving land."

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.


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