Service day at The Ridge

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The Southern Conservation Trust and the Southside Cycling Club will be hosting a community service day Saturday, Dec. 19, at The Ridge Nature Area.

The first event project at The Ridge is clearing a partially forested glen of shade and invasive trees to restore a Piedmont meadow habitat with native plant species. This is an Eagle Scout and Hornaday Conservation Badge community service project led by Noah Pfaff, a Life Scout in Troop 57 and assisted by the Fayette County Master Gardeners.

The second event project is the installation of bat houses to help preserve the bat population in our area through the use of bat houses as substitutes to tradition roosting areas. The project encompasses education of the community about the importance of bats and the building of four bat houses with a group of younger girls. This is a Girl Scout Gold Award service project let by Jorie Thuon, a Senior Girl Scout in Troop 255.

Volunteers will have also have the opportunity to assist in trail maintenance while hiking, mountain biking, or trail running the 5.6 miles of trails. Outdoor ethics materials from Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace will also be available to view.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. Volunteers should meet at the entrance to The Ridge at the south end of Burch Road in Fayetteville. The goals are to complete clearing of the new meadow area, install the bat houses and maintain as much of the rest of the trail system as possible during this service event.

The Ridge is a Fayetteville public greenspace project encompassing a 308-acre hardwood forest and wetland habitat located on a ridge line between Whitewater Creek and Gingercake Creek. The initial phase of infrastructure development is concluding in the near future with construction of the parking lot and gate.

After years of desiring to develop the nature area, the city engaged Southern Conservation Trust to develop and manage the public use park. A Master Vision Plan has been created and amenities will be implemented in phases and as community support allows. The Vision calls for some opportunities not currently found in Fayette County.

Once complete, The Ridge will provide a nature education center, and host of sustainable outdoor recreation activities including over five miles of on-site hiking, mountain biking and running trails, geocaching and orienteering, a youth campground, canoe and kayak boat launch, and numerous bird watching spots. The Ridge is slated for full public opening early in 2016.

Volunteers should bring their own trail tools such as rakes, shovels, handsaws, chain saws, eye protection, and gloves. Please wear suitable clothing and shoes. Drinking water will be provided.

More information is available at www.facebook.com/TheRidgeNatureArea or www.sctlandtrust.org or by contacting Keith Larson at 678-525-7713.