Contact: Raysun Goergen or Beth Gavrilles, (706) 583-0463 May 9, 2002


A team of graduate students from The University of Georgia's College of Environment & Design and the School of Law received top honors for their Regional Greenspace Plan for the Upper Etowah Watershed at the Second National Green Space Design Competition. Jeffrey Boring and Raysun Goergen, candidates for Masters of Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development in the Institute of Ecology, and Marcie Diaz, candidate for Masters of Landscape Architecture in the School of Environmental Design, presented their project at the 2002 Green Space Design Conference, May 5 - 8 in Denver, Colorado. Clif Henry and Brannon Hancock, candidates for the Juris Doctorate degree, assisted in the preparation of the plan.

The plan, which provides a template for coordinating greenspace protection across the eight counties of the Upper Etowah watershed in order to optimize water quality and biodiversity benefits, tied for first place out of a field of twenty-three entries, and received a People's Choice award from conference attendees. The students will share a $5,000 scholarship with the other winning team. Judges were Philip H. Lewis, Jr., President, Marshall Erdman Academy of Sustainable Design; Robert G. Woodmansee, Professor, Colorado State University; and Sumner M. Swaner, President, Swaner Design. Swaner Design was the conference sponsor.

The project originated as part of the Etowah Initiative, an interdisciplinary service-learning course that brings together graduate students from Ecology, Environmental Design, and Law to work on problems identified by stakeholders in the Etowah watershed. The Etowah is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the United States, with 76 native species of fish, including some that are found nowhere else in the world. Located just north of Atlanta, it is increasingly threatened by the impacts of rapid development. The Upper Etowah Regional Greenspace Plan includes a county-by-county analysis of open space resources, priorities for protection, and implementation strategies, as well as a comprehensive regional greenspace map. The project is funded by a grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The interdisciplinary faculty of the Etowah Initiative is composed of Laurie Fowler of the School of Law and Institute of Ecology, Mary Freeman of the U.S. Geological Survey, Darrel Morrison of the School of Environmental Design, Elizabeth Pate of the College of Education, David Gattie of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Science and Alex Scherr of the School of Law.