The Ridge Nature Area gets public debut this spring

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One of Fayetteville’s biggest secrets is getting ready for a full-fledged opening that will showcase one of the city’s newest amenities.

The Ridge Nature Area on Burch Road is a Fayetteville public greenspace project featuring 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 now getting ready for completion, and should have early May opening, Southern Conservation Trust director Pam Young told the Fayetteville City Council Thursday night.

The greenspace is nearly half the size of New York City’s Central Park and is sure to draw millennials seeking a bit of nature near the city.

Young said the property was clear cut in the 1820s and was farmed until the 1960s, which allowed old growth trees and vegetation to take over the property.

“Now the goal is to increase biodiversity through restoration projects,” she said.

Southern Conservation Trust is using existing farm drives as routes to enter and exit the park.

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.

In developing the area, Young said less than 3 percent of the 308 acres will be impacted.

The area has benefited from a public-private partnership to get the area ready for the spring opening. While the city has contributed just over $12,000 for the project, the trust and community through many in-kind contributions have contributed over $108,000.

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