The City of Greenville unveiled the newest addition to Unity Park on May 17 by celebrating the opening of the Reedy River Wetlands Preserve – an urban wetlands featuring an outdoor classroom, overlooks and a series of low-impact, ADA-accessible boardwalks offering vantage points to learn about the native species and wildlife living in this critical ecosystem.
At the conclusion of the opening celebration, children from the Westside Community Center and others cut the ribbon on the wetlands with Greenville Mayor Knox White and participated in learning stations manned by staff from the Greenville Zoo.
“These wetlands create a healthier river system, improve habitat, mitigates flood risk and a beautiful scenic and educational amenity for our community,” White said.
BMW Manufacturing donated $1.25 million to restore and preserve the wetlands, Duke Energy contributed $500,000 for the outdoor classroom, and the family of C. Dan Joyner donated $100,000 to sponsor one of the three overlooks. A fourth donor who contributed $200,000 will be announced in early 2024. The project was funded entirely by the $2.05 million in private donations.
“At BMW, we firmly believe that it is our responsibility as a corporate citizen to give back and support the communities where our associates live and work,” said Dr. Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “What better way to do this than preserving and protecting a natural environment like the Reedy River Wetlands Preserve in Unity Park, which aligns perfectly with BMW’s sustainability strategy. The Reedy River Wetlands will provide a quiet space where the community and visitors can walk, rest and learn more about this unique ecosystem.”
The restoration of the wetlands, which reveals the original path of the Reedy River, included the removal of invasive plant species as well as ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer, a wood-boring beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in North America. In their place, workers carefully placed at least 100 native trees and more than 200 native shrubs – aligning well with one of Unity Park’s nine guiding principles of driving towards a sustainable future.
Designed by MKSK Studios and executed by Harper General Contractors, the Reedy River Wetlands Preserve is comprised of four acres and may one day be expanded to twice that size
Manufactured by The Heirloom Companies of Greenville, the Duke Energy Outdoor Classroom is made up of 72 pieces of wood and twisted steel overlooking one of the wetland’s vernal pools.
“Duke Energy is a mission-driven company, and our mission today is nothing short of reaching the industry’s most ambitious goals in sustainability,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “It is important for companies like ours to work alongside our communities to invest in the health and well-being of our employees and the neighborhoods we serve. That’s why Duke Energy is excited to have provided the funding for the outdoor classroom at Unity Park. This is a unique facility that will educate the public of the important environmental contribution of wetlands and the need to preserve them.”
Visitors to the wetlands will see multiple species of plants and trees including Green Arrow Arum, Silky Dogwood, Sweet Gum, American Sycamore and Magnolia Grandiflora. Additionally, the wetlands are home to various wildlife such as Great Blue Herons, snapping turtles, North American raccoons, spotted salamanders, mallard ducks, and monarch butterflies.
“Our father, C. Dan Joyner, was not only a successful businessman, but an enthusiastic philanthropist and great contributor to the Greenville community,” said Danny Joyner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, Realtors®. “This beautiful overlook carries on his legacy and serves as a reminder of the positive impact he had on our family and the community he loved.”
Visit the City of Greenville website to learn more about The Wetlands.
Written by the City of Greenville.