Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc. Funded Projects
Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc. is committed to preserving and protecting the Nature Center. One way we do so is by funding tangible projects that help our visitors enjoy and understand this unique area more fully while increasing recreational opportunities for all. Here is a sampling of our recent and current projects. Funding for these programs comes from memberships, donations, and gift shop proceeds.
The Trailhead Improvement Project was started to honor the memory of Will Chamberlin, who was an SCNC,Inc. board member, past president and all around enthusiastic volunteer. Will was an active person--an athlete who loved running, caving, recreation, and conservation, and was a great friend to the Nature Center. His family and friends raised funds in his honor for a new Trailhead that would promote outdoor activities with a welcoming entryway to the Nature Center trails. Working with Nature Center staff, Cultivation Landscape Design, and the ACC park planning office, we developed a plan for the new paths. SCNC, Inc. created a fund-raiser for Giving Tuesday 2022 and combined that money with prior contributions from friends of Will Chamberlin to fully fund the project which was completed in the spring of 2023.
The Nature Playscape
The Nature Playscape turned our backyard garden area into a natural play area for children of all ages to explore nature, get some energy out and enjoy themselves in a safe, yet challenging landscape. This area utilizes existing natural features combined with learning areas made from natural materials. In addition, there is a short paved trail that hooks up with the ADA Boardwalk Trail.
The Nature Playscape is open from seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. Please leave dogs at home and park scooters and bicycles in the racks provided nearby.
ADA Trail Addition
In 1997, Sandy Creek Nature Center built an ADA boardwalk stretching more than a quarter of a mile into the upland woods and intermittent wetlands near the Education & Visitor Center in order to provide mobility-impaired visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
This original portion of the boardwalk trail met ADA standards when it was built, and until recently it extended about 800 feet into the woods behind the Education and Visitor Center as a linear trail that ended at a tributary of the Oconee River.
In early 2016, Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc. donated $45,000 to complete this ADA Trail into a loop, providing additional recreational opportunities for the mobility impaired and families with young children.
Brick Factory Project
This exciting project will uncover a forgotten part of our community’s history as we dig into the factory ruins of the Georgia Brick Company that operated on the Nature Center property in the early 1900s. This is a little-known tale of
history, industry and human and natural resources that helped shape how Athens grew into the city it is today.
A $68,000 grant from Riverview Foundation is funding much-needed improvements to the restroom located on the outside of the Education and Visitor Center near the Nature Playscape. The 20-year old-facility, the only public restroom on the North Oconee Rivers Greenway is open 24 hours and receives heavy use.
SPLOST Exhibit Hall Upgrades
Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc.'s SPLOST 2020 project has been approved and will be funded. This project will upgrade and better focus the aging Coast and Wetlands Interactive Learning Centers (ILCs) at Sandy Creek Nature Center. These ILCs are the oldest "exhibits" at SCNC, dating to 1998 and 2001, respectively. They are wearing out and are not up to the same standards for interactivity, sustainability and multi-generational learning as the new Agriculture, Woodlands, Urban, & Sky Center ILCs created through SPLOST 2011. This project will build on previous investments by SPLOST, donors, and the community to help ensure the environmental education mission of SCNC remains robust and relevant.
Managed Forest Project
The goals of the 25-acre Managed Forest Project are to restore forest and early successional ecosystem services and functions, establish high quality wildlife habitat, promote a greater understanding of the workings of a healthy forest essential to a broader appreciation of the natural world and our place in it, demonstrate land management decisions and how they enhance forest ecosystems, and to highlight the need for ecosystem protection and sustainable forest management for goods and ecosystem services.
Visitors can walk a system of trails, experiencing and observing the changing forest and learning about the importance of these changes. Additionally, the significant increase in flora and fauna biodiversity will enhance the visitor experience and highlight healthy forest and ecosystem services. Instructor-led and interpretive displays will further enhance this learning experience.