The Ridge is ready

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The Ridge Nature Area will open to the public Aug. 13
 
A new recreational amenity for Fayetteville and Fayette County premiers Aug. 13 when The Ridge Nature Area will officially open its 308-acre site designed for healthy activities for people of all ages. Four years in the making and situated on property owned by the city of Fayetteville, The Ridge is managed by Southern Conservation Trust (SCT).
 
“The Ridge is a jewel in the heart of Fayette County which is unique among the many public nature preserves in the Atlanta metro area,” said SCT Chairman Tami Morris. “The Ridge is notable for its size and diversity of activities but, most importantly, for the community support which has resulted in quality and thoughtful amenities.”
 
Located at the end of Burch Road and bordered by Gingercake Creek and Whitewater Creek, The Ridge is designated as public preservation land and was acquired by the city of Fayetteville to prevent a subdivision development from consuming the expansive greenspace, said SCT Executive Director Pam Young.
 
The Ridge Nature Area on Burch Road in Fayetteville managed by Southern Conservation Trust opens on Aug. 13. The map of the 308-acre site outlines the many trails and the current and future amenities. Graphic/Southern Conservation Trust.After years of efforts to create a park, the city engaged SCT to create and manage the land as a passive public use nature area. The Ridge Master Vision Plan was created with amenities to be implemented as community support allowed. The plan includes many opportunities not currently found in Fayette County, Young added.
 
“Too often our children stay indoors, missing the chance to establish a healthy lifestyle through outdoor fun. Ensuring families have opportunities to hike, smell the freshness after a warm summer rain or witness animals in their natural habitat is paramount to the mission of SCT,” said Young.
 
As of Aug. 13, there will be little reason for kids or adults to stay indoors. Activities for the grand opening will feature:
 
• Family outdoor fun and activities include the official ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. An additional White Water Paddle Trail ribbon cutting will be held at 11 a.m. in anticipation of appropriate fall water levels for paddling.
 
• Help complete part of the paddle trail by participating in the 1st Annual Duck Race at 11:30 a.m. Duck donations are $5 and the race winner will receive a prize. To adopt your duck and see if your Quacker is first to cross the line visit www.sctlandtrust.org.
 
• Guided trail hikes and mountain bike rides begin at noon. Gently hike the 1.5 miles of pedestrian trails or explore the 4.3 miles of multi-purpose trails. Mountain bikers will enjoy the multi-purpose basic trail rides throughout the 4.3 miles of The Ridge.
 
• Additional activities include a treasure hunt with prizes and refreshments. Educational exhibits and naturalists will share elements of The Ridge.
 
Completed for the grand opening are a fishing dock on Whitewater Creek, numerous hiking trails, mountain bike trails and the primitive camp site for scouts. Among the amenities to be opened in the future include restrooms, an outdoor classroom, a gazebo, a garden and nature center.
 
The nature area that will open on Aug. 13 was four years in the making with SCT responsible for the effort that turned a former farm into the largest nature area, or park, in Fayette County.
 
Upon the completion of all phases, 97 percent of The Ridge will remain undisturbed. The site includes numerous ecosystems, passive recreational experiences and the opportunity for environmental exploration. Additional amenities will be completed within the next few years should funding be acquired, said Young.
 
Commenting on the new amenity, Fayetteville City Manager Ray Gibson said, “We are thrilled to have SCT as a partner in creating a unique community asset for our community. Their leadership is providing our community with unique outdoor opportunities as well as contributing to a thriving, sustainable community for future generations. SCT does much for our community to educate, protect our environment and provide recreational resources.”
 
Young said extensive community support was critical in establishing the nature area. Nearly 500 volunteers, nearly 2,000 volunteer hours and 13 scout projects went into preparing the large site.
 
In addition to the city, SCT had more than 20 community partners participating in the effort to bring The Ridge to fruition. That support totaled $70,000 to date in contributions and in-kind donations. Fayetteville also provided a portion of the funds for the project.