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Grenada woman saved a 300 acre wetland to become site of nature preserve

Right outside of Grenada's downtown is a 300 acre wetland that Robin Whitfield saved from being logged.

Posted: Oct 14, 2021 9:01 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2021 9:07 AM

GRENADA, Miss. (WTVA) - Right outside of Grenada's downtown is a 300-acre wetland that Robin Whitfield saved from being logged.

“When I came downtown and I began to walk around, I discovered that there was a big wetland just north of our downtown," she said. "And it was filled with amazing trees and in my mind, just nature!”

Whitfield is a Mississippi native, but she said her hometown of Clinton is more of an urban area. She went to college in the Mississippi Delta and which is an area made up of farmland. This discovery was something she had never seen before. 

“I would walk here every day," she said. "For me, it was just like entering a magic world. I would see, in a sense, just a curtain of green.”

As an artist, this new atmosphere captivated her creative juices and became her natural studio. What the area looks like today, does not look like what it did just a few years ago. 

“In the meantime, I was also telling enough people that they wanted to come and help me pick up the trash that was being dumped here and other things," Whitfield said. "I realized that the city-owned the property.”

That means 300 acres belonged to Grenada. Whitfield wanted it to become more than it was. City leaders allowed her and others to form a friends group.

“We ended up naming this area which did not have a name Chakchiuma Swamp," she said. "Chakchiuma is after the native people who lived here. It means ‘Red Crawfish People’. We wanted to honor their presence here.”

Whitfield and her friends enjoyed the swamp. They made trails, hosted events and cleaned it up, but that all changed in 2016.

“I showed up with my painting kit, pulled up and saw pink tape over the boundary of all the forest out here.”

She said she could not believe that there was a possibility her sanctuary could be town down.

“Sure enough after I went down to our City Hall and talked to them, they had decided to cut down all of their property not just this property," Whitfield said. "[It was] for much-needed funding, and I knew we need funding for our city.”

Whitfield would not let that happen without a fight. City leaders allowed her to speak to them during public hearings and asked if she proposed a solution. 

“I called everyone there was to call from the Nature Conservancy to the Army Corp of Engineers to of course, our State Fish and Wildlife...anyone I thought that might could advise or help.”

She finally came up with a solution and it is one that allows folks to connect with the swamp. 

“[I thought], 'Gosh, I think I can find people to adopt trees for their timber value and leave them standing,” she said. However, she said it was not as easy as it sounds. 

“The city did reject the timber that came in," Whitfield said. "Largely, because they weren’t as much as the city was wanting, but they knew there was another idea in the works too.”

There were other bumps in the road, but Whitfield and the board that formed did not give up. Today, Chakchiuma Swamp remains in what is now Lee Tartt Nature Preserve. A found that helped save the wetland and the community agreed to name it after a Grenada native and agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics who died in the line of duty. 

The large wetland and its trails provide a place for residents in Grenada or tourists to get outside. 

“This is here open every day of the from dawn until dusk and you can sit here quietly and see amazing things.”

The Lee Tartt Nature Preserve hosts several events. That includes a Halloween event called Dragon and Spirits of Lee Tartt Nature Preserve on October 29th and 30th.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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