Elachee Meadow and Activity Field

Latest green infrastructure construction project is underway as Elachee renovates and installs new exhibits.

As we announced in early November 2018, the Elachee organization is taking advantage of the winter season to renovate its natural history and live animal exhibits and to install five new outdoor exhibits. In addition, for the month of February 2019, construction will continue on the latest green infrastructure project at the Nature Center – as evidenced by the impressive earth-moving project happening at Elachee. These projects are a direct result of community feedback from the strategic planning survey Elachee conducted in 2017. Construction begins to create the Elachee Meadow and Activity Field on the campus of the Nature Center.

Many are asking, “What’s happening on the hill?” We are creating the Elachee Meadow and Activity Field to expand our outdoor teaching space and provide dedicated play space for Elachee Nature Academy students and Camp Elachee participants, as well as incorporate multiple, new herbaceous pollinator-friendly gardens that will surround this activity area. In addition, a portion of this project will be used on an as needed basis for overflow parking.

This dramatic construction, taking place parallel to Elachee’s parking lot, will provide a solution to help deal with the Nature Center’s current growth demands in the most sustainably-conscious way possible. Nearly a year of thoughtful consideration and planning have gone into this project.

Here are 8 Project Highlights

  1. This project does not increase impervious surfaces.
  2. This project’s pervious surfaces will allow stormwater to pass through into the ground, with any excess water flowing to the existing bioswale system.
  3. This project will address ongoing erosion issues impacting Elachee Drive.
  4. This project will increase safety and accessibility (for school buses, visitors, emergency vehicles, etc.) on Elachee Drive by eliminating unauthorized parking.
  5. This project is ‘borrowing’ soil, repositioning it in the vicinity.
  6. This project’s timeline is planned in stages, with herbaceous pollinator-friendly plants to be quickly established to stabilize terraced/sloped areas surrounding the Elachee Meadow and Activity Field. More purposeful and defined pollinator garden zones will be installed throughout 2019.
  7. This project will provide invaluable teaching and creative discovery opportunities through the pollinator-friendly environment developments.
  8. Area students, including those from 30 of 38 Gainesville City School System, Hall County Schools and Elachee Nature Academy Preschool and Kindergarten-1st Grade classes, were busy in January creating impressive artwork that will be the inspiration for a decorative construction barrier fence. Stay posted, we will report on the Elachee Meadow Art Project soon!

Elachee President and CEO Andrea Timpone has been involved with every construction project undertaken by the Nature Center in its four-decade history. “What we are seeing is a temporary look and in a blink of an eye, it will look like it’s always been here,” she comments. “Our hope is to have the majority of all construction and exhibit installation complete by Elachee’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in early March.”

Quickly following this ‘big reveal’ is a full spring schedule. In addition to it being the busiest PreK-12 school field trip season of the year, the vast majority of Elachee’s public events take place on the Nature Center’s campus from March through September (Raptor Fest, Trillium Trek Trail Run & Walk, Spring Plant Sale, life-long learning series including the Georgia Master Naturalist Program and Nature Art Workshop, Camp Elachee spring break and summer day camps and Snake Day). Elachee friends and supporters will also gather April 27, 2019 for Elachee’s annual fundraiser the 19th Annual Flights of Fancy Benefit & Auction for an up close and personal tour of all enhancements to the Nature Center experience.

About Elachee

Elachee celebrates 40 years of promoting environmental understanding through education and conservation.For 40 years, this premier SACS/AdvancED-accredited nature center and recreation destination has been instrumental in promoting environmental understanding through education and conservation.

Elachee serves nearly 70,000 visitors annually through STEAM-based environmental education field trips for PreK through 12th grade school children, Camp Elachee summer day camps, natural history and live animal exhibits, public access to 12 miles of pristine hiking trails in one of Georgia’s largest protected green spaces, and life-long learning and seasonal nature-related programs for the public. The campus is also home to Elachee Nature Academy, a State-licensed and accredited school offering nature-based Preschool and Kindergarten-1st Grade programs.

As conservator in perpetuity for the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, Elachee collaborates with its devoted community partners and volunteer corps to build, maintain and ensure a sustainable legacy for current and future generations to enjoy. Elachee’s conservation stewardship work restores and protects the health of this regional treasure – its forest, streams and habitats – deploying natural design principles to provide clean water and biodiversity. This work also provides ongoing maintenance of the Nature Preserve’s extensive hiking trail system.

Learn more at elachee.org.