Sunday November 29th, 2015 7:21AM

Chicopee Woods accepted into Old-Growth Forest Network, a first for Ga.

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve will become part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network next month.

The Old-Growth Forest Network is the first national organization working specifically to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

In counties capable of supporting forest growth they identify at least one forest that will be forever protected from logging and open to the public; then they help families connect with these forests. The result will be a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature.

The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve was selected by the Old-Growth Forest Network to be the Hall County representative. This will be the first Georgia forest to be awarded this recognition. The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is a 1,400-acre woodland with walking paths, hiking trails, creeks, hills and a lake. The forest was originally protected to keep the water supply Chicopee Village, a nearby mill town, clean. This allowed the forest to mature over time.

The oldest trees are estimated to be 150-200 years old and the forest includes large oaks, hickories, tulip poplars and many kinds of pine.

The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is the largest contiguous conservation easement in northeast Georgia. The Preserve is also recognized by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area (IBA), an area essential to nesting and migrating birds.

Joan Maloof, Founder and Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, will be present at the dedication ceremony, which will be held May 22 at 11:30 at 2125 Elachee Drive.

Accepting the recognition will be Andrea Timpone, President/CEO of the Elachee Nature Science Center, which oversees Chicopee Woods, and RK Whitehead, Chairman of the Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission.

"The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is a successful preservation project thanks to the foresight of several community leaders, the gift of land in 1980 by the Chicopee Manufacturing Corporation and by the commitment of many volunteers, professionals dedicated to conservation, local municipalities, donors and visionaries," Whitehead said.

"We are thrilled to add Georgia to the growing list of states that have forests in the Network," Maloof said. "Other states already represented include Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Hawaii. We look forward to adding more Georgia counties to the Network, too."

Maloof added that the Old Growth Network depends on a volunteer in each county to help identify candidates.

"Carolyn Kearns was the volunteer county coordinator for Hall County, and she was assisted by Margaret Rasmussen, director of the Redbud Project. During the dedication celebration Rasmussen will be presented with a Forest Advocate award for her work in speaking out for the protection of Hall County's tree canopy through the Redbud Project. She was (also) instrumental in creating the Linwood Nature Preserve, a community forest in Gainesville."
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