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Sound Rivers celebrates Juneteenth with Walnut Creek Wetland Partners

Environmental, Events, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality, Wetlands

Posted on June 27th, 2024

Signage at the Bailey Drive Gateway Juneteenth celebration shows the namesakes of neighborhood roads.

Sound Rivers’ Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop observed Juneteenth at two events celebrating Walnut Creek wetlands and the people working for environmental justice in the upper Neuse watershed.

“It was inspiring. There were so many community members there who are working together to restore the Walnut Creek Wetlands and enhance opportunities for communities to engage with them,” Samantha said.

Two events surround the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center: one a celebration of one of the people instrumental in the Wetland Center’s construction; another, an unveiling of the plans for the Walnut Creek corridor, a federally funded project to restore wetlands, build a community pavilion and serve as a connector between two historic communities — Rochester Heights and Biltmore Hills — and the Walnut Creek Wetlands.

Friday’s event was also an unveiling — of the children’s book “Norman Builds a Park,” honoring Dr. Norman Camp III, a retired educator, community leader and champion of environmental justice and conservation. He played a key role in galvanizing the community to support the construction of the Walnut Creek Wetland Center, and the education center there is named in his and his wife’s honor.

“So much of our work is focused on environmental justice and the Wetland Center is a beautiful illustration of ongoing efforts toward environmental justice in our backyard,” Samantha said. “This was a place where the city was dumping, which shows the connection between historical environmental pollution and racism — this in an example of that history.”

The City of Raleigh, Walnut Creek Wetland Community Partnership, Partners for Environmental Justice, Friends of the Rochester Heights and Biltmore Hills neighborhoods were all a part of Saturday’s outdoor event at the Bailey Drive Gateway that featured storytelling about the history of the park and the communities that lived there; traditional food, African drumming, and giveaways of native perennial plants and children’s books about racial justice, in addition to revealing the plan for the Walnut Creek corridor.

“Inspiring things are happening today to rectify environmental injustice,” Samantha said. “When racial justice is achieved all boats are lifted.”

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