Blue Heron Nature Preserve adds four acres and connections to PATH trails

By Maria Saporta

Inside the city limits of Atlanta, every acre counts.

The Blue Heron Nature Preserve in North Buckhead is adding four more acres – allowing it to directly connect to the local elementary school and enabling construction of a continuous PATH trail from the Preserve’s properties to the other trails in the area.

The expansion of the Blue Heron Nature Preserve was announced by its executive director Nancy Jones. Now the Preserve totals 30 acres and includes a “haven of majestic trees, nature trails, a 10,000-square-foot education and arts center and a wildlife sanctuary adjoining Roswell Road….”

Nancy Jones, executive director of the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, shows plans for new green space

Nancy Jones, executive director of the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, shows plans for new green space

The City of Atlanta purchased the property on Land O’ Lakes Drive adjacent to Sarah Smith Elementary School to develop “the Blueway” – a two mile trail along urban streams that will eventually tie into PATH’s new Georgia-400 trail, the BeltLine and extend to paths at Chastain Park.

“Our vision is to expand Blue Heron well beyond our own boundaries by connecting our trails to existing ones all around us,” Jones said in a release. “This is a big step in fulfilling our mission of protecting and connecting green space and encouraging people of all ages to experience nature.”

The new parcel contains the headwaters ofMill Creek,a creek whose name was recently discoveredon anold survey map along with agristmill thatoncestoodonLakemoore Drive.

A Blue Heron - for which the Preserve is named (Special from the Blue Heron Nature Preserve)

A Blue Heron – for which the Preserve is named (Photos: Special from the Blue Heron Nature Preserve)

The new acquisition also helps to create a contiguous, protected green space in a watershed that includes a significant portion of Buckhead’s business district along Peachtree, Piedmont and Roswell Roads.

By adding green space along its waterways, north Atlanta has a unique opportunity to create wetlands that can naturally address the impacts of urbanization, provide habitat for native plants and animals not normally found in an urban setting and offer hands-on educational opportunities for schools.

The Blue Heron Nature Preserve is a natural sanctuary where trees filter pollutants and buffer noise from busy roads. Nancy Creek is a large urban stream that winds toward the Chattahoochee, carves a path through the site and offers a refuge for foxes, deer, coyotes, minks, otters, beavers, turtles, many species of birds and fish, and fresh water clams.

The Preserve’s building is located at 4055 Roswell Road, where Atlanta Audubon Society and Little DaVinci International School also are based.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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