Current Projects

DNR Coastal Incentive Grant Cycle 18: Smart Design Parking Lot


Impervious surfaces exist as nefarious detractors for natural resource protection. Parking lots allow stormwater runoff into coastal marshland and serve as urban heat islands which contribute to global warming. The Smart Design Parking Lots project will address stormwater and heat island concerns by offering cost-benefit analysis of sustainable designs incorporating trees, advantageous growing conditions, and improved engineering and materials.
The Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) requests a Coastal Incentive Grant to support the Smart Design Parking Lots project. MPC will work with the Savannah Tree Foundation (STF) to coordinate and manage this project.
The Smart Design Parking Lot project starts with a landscape architect and civil engineer working together to design the eight parking lot scenarios. Each design will include a standard parking lot pad including a minimum of twelve parking spots, trees, and bio-detention features. The project will evaluate design, life cycle costs, benefits, and environmental services for each design option. The final information will be compiled in a white paper highlighting best practices for sustainable parking lots.
The design scenarios and accompanying data will be used to develop high school level lesson plans. Local professionals will present to school classes discussing the benefits of sustainable development. School kits will be available for teachers to check out from STF to support the lessons. These kits will provide tools for students to use in performing their own environmental analysis. School curriculum developed from this project will be made available for Chatham County teachers and may be implemented throughout the coastal region.
With the completion of the design, analysis, and white paper, STF will provide education and outreach. Presentations will be arranged with elected officials and planning boards of each of the nine local municipalities within Chatham County as well as with professional and community groups. STF will work closely with MPC to incorporate results into new zoning ordinances. STF will partner with the Alliance for Community Trees to offer a webinar sharing the project and its results. Further outreach can be arranged for other communities throughout coastal Georgia.

The Smart Design project will prioritize sustainable practices in development. A primary goal of the Smart Design Parking Lot project is for local governments to use this information to assist with new zoning code ordinances that will incorporate sustainable development practices. The second goal is for professionals to implement the design standards as best practices throughout the county and coastal region. The third goal of the Smart Design project is to educate students about the benefits of sustainable development.
This project’s environmental impact will benefit marshlands, rivers, and diverse watershed areas. Smart Design Parking Lots serve conservation priorities focusing on sustainable communities and protecting the ocean, marshes, and wetlands. This project will also contribute to managing non-point source pollution.

Smart Design Parking Lots will provide data to support DNR’s Green Growth Guidelines regarding parking lots. A key element of Coastal Resource Management includes promoting Low Impact Design (LID). Documented cost benefit and ecosystem analysis of LID best practices will assist the Coastal Management Program in encouraging these practices in other communities.

Bacon Park Forest

The Savannah Tree Foundation became involved with Bacon Park Forest in 1993, when this 50+ acre unique forest was slated to become a set of soccer fields. Through a grassroots advocacy campaign, the foundation helped convince Savannah’s City Council to preserve the park as a passive use natural resource and authorized the Savannah Tree Foundation to proceed with developing a master plan along those guidelines. Since that time, we’ve worked with the city and multiple local & national partners, including Wood + Partners, Georgia Forestry Commission, Robert & Company, and Trail Dynamics to develop this parcel into a recreational park with natural walking trails designed to suit hikers, birders, bikers, walkers and runners with a stunning forested landscape for their varied use.

Status update:
Bi annual forays into the forest help control the invasive species. Check our work calendar for specific days to talk a guided walk in the woods, and pull a few plants too!

In 2015 STF continues to collaborate with the local ASLA chapter for the betterment of Bacon Park Forest.

In 2017 a conceptual master plan is being worked on with the Savannah Tree Foundation and local consultants. The draft of this plan can be viewed here.

The Draft Bacon Park Forest Conceptual Master Plan document Executive Summary is here.

Chatham County Projects

In 2007, the Savannah Tree Foundation began to work with Chatham County to help install landscaping in public parks and rights of way. Our work on landscaping projects has resulted in beautiful public places at Mother Matilda Beasley Park (off East Broad Street in downtown Savannah), Westlake Park and Lamarville Park (in Savannah’s Westside), the Julie Backus Smith roundabout at Lake Mayer, and the Placentia Canal near Bonaventure Cemetery and the Talahi Island Median on HWY 80.

Status update:
In 2010-2011, Savannah Tree Foundation planted 500 trees at a FEMA site at Westlake, and coordinated the median landscaping for Highway 80 near Talahi Island.

Spring 2012, new palm trees, red maples and other plants complete a landscaping project on the east side of Skidaway Road across from the Wormsloe entrance on Isle of Hope.

Past Projects

The Savannah Tree Foundation has helped with the following projects:

  • Sustainable Fellwood Phase I – identification of canopy trees which could be saved using the techniques of critical root zone protection during construction on this affordable housing redevelopment project led by Melaver, Inc.
  • Tim Womick, Trail of Trees presentation at Savannah Chatham County Public Schools