Reynolds Nature Preserve

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Coordinates: 33°35′56″N 84°20′54″W / 33.5989°N 84.3484°W / 33.5989; -84.3484

W. H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve

Reynolds Nature Preserve is a 146-acre (59 ha) tract of protected forest located in Morrow, Georgia in the heart of Clayton County. The nature preserve is owned and operated by Clayton County Parks and Recreation. The park boasts three miles (5 km) of hiking trails, historic reminisce of a civil war era farm, native plants path, heritage garden, wildlife ponds, native azaleas, a wildflower field, and an interpretive center.

History[edit]

Huie Barn, circa 1867

Robert T.S. Huie was believed to have purchased the property that is now the Reynolds Nature Preserve around the time of the Civil War. Any history before this time was burned at the courthouse in Jonesboro, GA during Sherman's March to the Sea. The main farmhouse was originally constructed with four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs with a chimney in the center. After the war Robert Huie added an additional fireplace, rooms, porches, and an attic. In the latter half of the 1920s the ever-growing naturalist, self-taught lawyer William Reynolds had purchased the property as his personal nature preserve. The Judge was known for giving tours of the preserve in his Cadillac on what are hiking trails today. At the time of his purchase there were two barns, a springhouse, spring box, corn crib, two tenant farmhouses, and the main farmhouse (closed to the public). Several of these structures, or their remains still stand today. Taking advantage of several springs on the land, the Judge constructed the five ponds during the 1930s. In 1976 Judge Reynolds donated 130 acres (53 ha) to the Clayton County government for preservation. Clayton County is the third smallest county in Georgia and the tenth most populated. Reynolds realized if not protected that this gem would soon become developed and lost forever. The county received a federal grant from the Lands and Conservation Fund in 1979 to help provide funds to construct piers, bridges, a pavilion, and the interpretive center. The Reynolds Boards of Trustees purchased an additional 16 acres (6.5 ha) in 1997 along Jesters Creek. Today Reynolds is partnering with the bordering Morrow Greenspace Trail and proposed Lake City Nature Preserve to incorporate over 300 acres (120 ha) of protected land among a sprawling Atlanta urban landscape.

Festivals[edit]

Yule Log[edit]

Yule log bonfire

The Reynolds Nature Preserve hosts their annual Yule Log every year on the second Friday night in December. The historic Huie Barn centralizes the festivities down by the field. Inside the barn you may get your face painted, receive a goodie snack bag handed out by volunteers, or make an outside Christmas Tree ornament that doubles as a bird feeder. Nearby live music can be heard at the amphitheater from local bands. Later in the evening there is a walk down a candlelit path back into the woods to listen to the storyteller down by the bonfire. Once the holiday stories are told the children’s search for the Yule Log begins!

Wild Azalea Festival[edit]

In the spring of 2010 the staff of Reynolds decided to host their very first Wild Azalea Festival. Reynolds has hosted various spring festivals throughout the years, including lobster cookouts, Wetlands Festivals, and Earth Day Celebrations. The native azalea Rhododendron calendulaceum, known botanical favorite of the Judge, seemed to be the obvious choice for reason of this new celebration. The Azalea Fest's mission is to unify organizations in the Atlanta area in the name of cultural and natural history. Environmental protection agencies from the state and nature centers from surrounding cities will be in attendance to showcase their best qualities. Although education may be the mission, recreation is the goal. Programs and performances are provided from the amphitheater, hot food from the big grille, entertainment booths, and native plant sales from local growers. Also, visitors are invited the hike the trails, tour the interpretive museum, and most of all - see the native azalea gardens!

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