The Sandy Creek Nature Center (SCNC) has been an educational home to the Athens, Georgia community since the 1970s.
Following a 2014 proposal for a Managed Forest Project and approval by the Mayor and Commission of Athens-Clarke County, the SCNC has begun its 25-year plan to regenerate a low-quality forest while educating the community.
This forest, in particular, is deemed low-quality as a result of its abundance of invasive species.
According to the 2014 proposal, there was a need for professional management. “As with pine forests, human activity, invasive species and the suppression of historically periodic wildfires continue to dramatically alter southeastern hardwood forests,” the proposal said. “Even when left alone, forests are being assaulted by invasive species, significantly impacting ecological functions and habitat quality. Forests are suffering.”
The SCNC, with the help of community volunteers, has already cut down invasive trees and has begun to replant native pine seedlings, which won’t reach maturation for an upwards of 80 years.
Sandy Creek Nature Center features 225 acres of woodlands and wetlands with over 4 miles of trails, including an ADA interpretive trail and connections to the North Oconee River Greenway and Cook’s Trail.
The SPLOST-funded Education & Visitor Center includes live reptiles, amphibians, marine and freshwater aquariums, interactive natural history exhibits, and a resource library, all housed in an eco-friendly building.
There is also a circa 1815 log house and several wildlife observation areas on site.