The Greenway Trail is recognized by the National Recreation Trail and the North Carolina Birding Trail. The Butterfly Garden is registered as a North American Monarch Waystation. As a nature trail, there is opportunity for seeing many birds throughout the year, exploring various habitats to identify butterflies, insects, amphibians, mammals, and plants that call the Greenway home.
National Recreation Trail
The Little Tennessee River Greenway was accepted into the National Recreation Trails (NRT) system in 2008. The National Trails System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543) authorized the creation of a national system of trails comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails, and National Historic Trails. Each NRT must demonstrate that it represents its region, supports a diverse community, and is among Americas best trails. Today, the Greenway is one of 1307 trails federally designated throughout the United States.
The Butterfly Garden on the Greenway was registered in 2006 as a Monarch Waystation. It is an intentionally-managed garden that provides food and habitat for the struggling Monarch butterfly population. Today it is one of 23,507 registered butterfly habitats. The waystation program is a joint venture by Monarch Watch, the Monarch Joint Venture, and the Xerces Society to restore monarch habitats. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders yet it is threatened by habitat loss at overwintering grounds in Mexico and throughout breeding areas in the United States and Canada. To offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources, the waystations promote the creation, conservation, and protection of monarch butterfly habitats.
Monarch Way-station Registry
The North Carolina Birding Trail
The Little Tennessee River Greenway was accepted in 2008 to the North Carolina Birding Trail Mountain Region. The Greenway is one of 105 trails selected for this region. The Trail is made up of three regional components--the coastal plain, piedmont, and the mountains. It is a guide to link existing bird watching sites across the state into a cohesive and marketable unit while connecting birders with local communities, businesses and other cultural and educational attractions. The North Carolina Birding Trail is a partnership between six founding organizations:the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Audubon North Carolina, North Carolina Sea Grant, US Fish & Wildlife Service, NC State University Cooperative Extension,and the NC Parks and Recreation. The purpose of NCBT is to establish North Carolina as a leading nature-based tourism destination and promote the value that is placed on protecting NC natural resources.
FRANKLIN BIRD CLUB
The Club conducts weekly walks on the Greenway from April through October.
The Club is a loosely organized group of locals who love birding. Some have years of experience observing and identifying birds and hit the trails is search of them. Some are backyard birders. All want to build on his or her list of recognizable birds and want to learn more about the birds who reside in, migrate through, or occasionally visit our area.
MEMBERSHIP - To become a member of the Franklin Bird Club, simply attend a meeting or walk and provide your name and email address. There are no fees, though occasionally donations are requested for operating costs, special projects, or to support Friends of the Greenway, Inc. New members are always welcome.
WALKS - Greenway walks take place every Wednesday from the first of April to the end of October, beginning at 8 AM. The starting location rotates from the Macon County Library, then Big Bear Park, and Salali Lane. For specific weekly information, check the website at:
On the website you can find information on:
–Bird Club meetings,
–community birding events,
–bird sightings and locations,
–ways to assist our local bird population,
–internet sites of interest to birders.
PROGRAMS - Five programs are scheduled each year: February, April, June, August, and October. Some years there are additional programs. All are announced in the newspapers, on the website, and to those on the email distribution list. Programs take place on the 2nd Monday of the month, 7 PM, at the Macon County Library.
There are several wetland areas on the Greenway--Suli Marsh, the Wetlands at Big Bear Park, and an area near the Butterfly Garden between the Shops of RiverWalk and the Greenway Trail are the main ones. Wetlands can be marshes and permanently flooded or flooded at times. They can be wet meadows with saturated soils or bogs where precipitation is the source of water. Wetlands that are called swamps have standing water and are typically in low-elevation floodplains along the river. All of these areas support specific types of plants that grow in saturated soils. Many birds, insects, fish, amphibians, and shellfish depend on wetlands as well.
Wetlands are invaluable in improving water quality by removing nutrient contamination, other pollutants, and cleanse the sediment from the water before reaching the river. They can act as sponges and better control the release of floodwaters. These areas can help capture and store carbon to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the air.
A meadow is an open natural environment with grass or an area without trees or shrubs. It attracts and supports wildlife and plants that require this type of habitat. It typically is allowed to grow and then mowed for hay. Mice, voles, foxes, deer, reptiles, and birds can be found here. The meadow on the Greenway is located in the Walasi Trail Circle behind the Library and has been named Poc Poggy’s Meadow. This was William Bartram’s Cherokee name.
Woodlands are areas that are predominantly trees. They provide a shade canopy and offer habitat for squirrels, rabbits, fox, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, and deer, as well as other small mammals, insects, snakes, and birds. Owls and hawks find homes in the trees. Songbirds, crows and ravens can also be found there. Woodlands, like wetlands, can be very beneficial. The trees can cleanse the air, provide stormwater and flood control, and help with the removal of greenhouse gases from the air. They can provide a habitat for native wildflowers. Woodlands are along the Tallulah Falls RR Trail near the Nickajack Bridge and near the Salali Lane parking area and Tassee Bridge.
The parks on the Greenway are examples of urban landscaping. Human intervention has changed the natural environment. There is more grass and open areas. The areas are designed to change the environment with newly planted trees and other plants.
There is a variety of wildlife that call the Greenway area home. The different habitats are best suited for different species. In the wooded areas, the wetlands, the river, the meadow, underbrush along the Trail, the Butterfly Garden, the side trails, and even the park areas, you can collect a diverse list. Whether you are interested in butterflies, birds, dragonflies, spiders, other insects, amphibians, shellfish, fish, or mammals, there are many just waiting for you to find.
Common exotic invasive plants of the Greenway: