Ecological Restoration

A bigger, healthier lake to love

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of all we do, and the Shelby Farms Park Master Plan (developed by James Corner Field Operations) is designed around Shelby Farms Park's role as a leader in sustainability. 

Heart of the Park's ecological enhancements will feature:

  • 3,000+ new native trees
  • Restored native grasses and meadows
  • New filtration wetlands
  • Forest Walk and Wetland Walk education features
  • LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) standard buildings
  • Geothermal heating + cooling system for new buildings
  • Solar assisted SMART charging station for electric cars
  • Environmentally friendly overflow parking
  • Improved watershed (going from a land-to-lake ratio of 4:1 to 7:1)

Shelby Farms Park's vast landscapes are remnants of an abandoned farm operation, shaped by its past as the Shelby County Penal Farm. In fact, many "natural" experiences in the Park aren't very natural at all.  

A recent Natural Resources Management Inventory conducted by University of Memphis reveals forests, lakes, and meadows in need of management and rehabilitation.  

The Heart of the Park project will give SFPC the opportunity to address critical ecological issues in the lake and its landscapes by providing a bio-based liner on the lake bottom, planting wetland vegetation on the shores to combat erosion, restoring the system of sloughs that formerly allowed water to flow from the Uplands (northern part of the Park) into Patriot Lake, and dramatically improving and enlarging the lake's watershed (the land area that drains into the lake).  

Improving the watershed



 CURRENT LAKE ALIGNMENT (52 ACRES)           FUTURE LAKE ALIGNMENT (~80 ACRES)


More Trees, Please!


To help restore and reconnect our currently segmented forests, more than 3,000 native trees will be planted in the Heart of the Park.

We're also restoring and revitalizing the ecosystems surrounding the newly expanded lake by planting native grasses and wildflowers that will improve habitats for birds and butterflies. 

The Park as an outdoor classroom


Heart of the Park will protect and preserve the wetlands surrounding Patriot Lake and return native grasses to the lake's edges. Renovations will be made to the shoreline to remedy shore erosion, and a variety of native aquatic plants will be added to attract migratory species.

Heart of the Park will also offer new ways to experience the natural elements of the Park, including the Forest Walk and Wetland Walk, which will provide picturesque settings for educational tours and wildlife observation.

Green Buildings

We plan to see a LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) seal on our First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center and FedEx Event Center. 

LEED certified buildings save money and resources over time and have a positive impact on the health of occupants and the environment. We have worked hard to incorporate renewable, clean energy from solar and geothermal systems, locally manufactured materials, and glass, insulation and mechanical equipment that is highly energy efficient into our buildings. You can view artistic renderings of the new buildings here.



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