The Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Buckhead Thursday announced it is expanding.
By adding 4 more acres, the preserve directly connects to the local elementary school and enables construction of a continuous PATH Foundation trail connecting all the preserve’s properties and to other trails in the area, Executive Director Nancy Jones said.
The city of Atlanta purchased the property on Land O’ Lakes Drive adjacent to Sarah Smith Elementary School to develop the Blueway, a 2-mile trail along urban streams that will eventually tie into the foundation’s PATH400 Greenway 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.
Blue Heron grows to 30 acres with the new acquisition. A haven of majestic trees, nature trails, a 10,000-square-foot education and arts center and a wildlife sanctuary adjoining busy Roswell Road, it is a city of Atlanta park operated by the nonprofit preserve.
“This is a big step in fulfilling our mission of protecting and connecting green space and encouraging people of all ages to experience nature,” Jones said.
The new parcel contains the headwaters of Mill Creek, a creek whose name was recently discovered on an old survey map along with a grist mill that once stood on Lakemoore Drive. The new parcel helps to create a contiguous, protected greenspace in a watershed which includes a significant portion of Buckhead’s business district along Peachtree, Piedmont and Roswell roads.
This offers a unique opportunity to create wetlands which 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.