Landscape architect Christine Hilt of Cary, North Carolina, clearly understands the potential of the Gateway Nature Preserve.
The first time Chris visited last February, she said, “You have the opportunity to tell a unique story on this site—you are reclaiming land from environmental degradation and at the same time embracing how nature thrives in an urban environment. Everything you do here is going to be a learning experience. The community can get involved in so many ways—getting rid of invasive species, helping to build play areas, creating works of art, having kids choose projects that they are going to help build and play in.”
Christine’s firm, CLH Design, is developing a master plan for the Gateway Nature Preserve that will guide future development and enhancement of the site. The firm’s enthusiasm, focus on environmental education, and experience with habitat restoration made CLH Design a natural choice.
Fortunately, The Winston-Salem Foundation agrees. In September, the Foundation awarded Gateway Nature Preserve a grant of $24,400 to cover most of the cost of the master plan process.
Around the same time that the GNP board retained CLH Design, we made the decision to change the name of the site from the Gateway Nature Center to the Gateway Nature Preserve. Board member Jeremy Reiskind explains why: “Almost every time we would take people out on the site, someone would ask, ‘When are you building the nature center?’ Our idea was that the entire 19 acres would be the nature center, not a building. Our name was obviously sending the wrong message.”
Calling the site a preserve has profound implications for how the site will be developed. While it is far from pristine wilderness, the emphasis will be on habitat. Ultimately, the Gateway Nature Preserve will be a place where people engage with nature in an urban setting.
The master plan will provide a roadmap for this process, identifying projects, prioritizing what needs to be done first, and attaching estimates to projects that will help with fundraising.
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