New Shelby County "natural area" set to open

A small corner of Shelby County is now protected as a "natural area," but will soon be bordered by a busy roadway.

At a ceremony Friday, the 23 acres of land was declared the "Riverwoods State Natural Area," and given state protection from development.

"It's protecting green spaces," said Jim Fyke of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.  "It's a special place for public consumption."

The pristine wilderness will not always quiet.  Just to the north, a four lane road will be built through the area.  The people working to preserve the natural area said the final plan for the road was the best they could negotiate.

"It wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was the only choice," said Jeanne Arthur of the Memphis Garden Club. "We had to work it out, because otherwise the road was going to go through, and we'd be left with two halves of nothing>"
The Memphis Garden Club donated the land for the project. The "natural area" designation, was part of a compromise that extended Wolf River Boulevard through the woods.  Germantown officials said connecting Wolf River Boulevard through the woods was necessary to prevent congestion.  They promised a project that would have the lowest environmental impact possible.

"We're working with Audobon International, and we're looking to create a roadway that is somewhat more unique than your typical roadway in an urban area," said Pam Beasley, Director of Germantown Parks and Recreation.

Access to the Riverwoods Natural Area is free. The area opens to the public Saturday.