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Tree trail to grow at nature preserve

A gopher tortoise lounges an open field at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. Clayton County Parks and Recreation officials are set to turn the field into a tree identification trail.

A gopher tortoise lounges an open field at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow. Clayton County Parks and Recreation officials are set to turn the field into a tree identification trail.

— A tree may have grown in Brooklyn, as the old story goes, but a bunch of trees are about to grow in Morrow.

OK, the trees have to be planted before their growth can really take-off, but that step is on the horizon.

Clayton County officials are preparing to create a tree identification trail at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve. Last week, commissioners voted unanimously to use $9,240 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales funds to create the trail, which will be on land that is currently an open field next to the preserve’s barn.

“In essence, what will happen is there will be a path and a reader rail or some identifiers for different trails so if people are out having their own excursion, they will have a way of identifying the trees that are indigenous to Clayton County,” said Clayton County Parks and Recreation Director Detrick Stanford.

Stanford said the money is coming from funds set aside for land acquisition and improvements to existing county properties. Money for the project was moved to that fund from a buildings and improvements fund, according to a budget amendment request submitted to commissioners by the county’s finance department.

The trail is expected to serve two purposes. Residents will have another trail at the nature preserve to walk along if they want to get some exercise and staff will have another tool to use for education programs. He said the project, which is supported by the county’s “Greenspace” staff, is a way to “up the attractions” at the popular preserve.

“It’s an opportunity for interpretive programming where if you are going out on your own with your family, you can get a sense of the different trees and the different native plants,” Stanford said.

Preserve Manager Stephanie Berens said officials must wait for the county’s central service’s department to select a contractor for the project before work can really begin on creating the trail. There are a few new trees that will be part of the trail which have already been planted along the edges of the field, though.

In a written statement, Berens explained the idea for the trail came a frequent patron of the preserve who had done plant identification walks while they were a student in the University of Tennessee’s agriculture program.

The trail is expected to include a variety of trees including Sycamores, Chestnuts, Redbuds and Bald Cypress. A number of smaller trees and plants will be part of it as well, according to Beren’s write-up. The pathway where patrons can walk among the trees will be gravel.

“Though the project will take years to become fully established, it will provide a refuge and educational resource for generations to come,” Berens wrote.