A long-time Athens-Clarke County parks and recreation professional will describe the initial results of a prescribed burn as part of the Managed Forest Project at Sandy Creek Nature Center during the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s next monthly meeting.
J. Michael Wharton, Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department Administrator for Operations, will focus on the results of a prescribed burn conducted last month when the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at Sandy Creek Nature Center. The prescribed burn is part of the long-term Managed Forest Project designed to improve wildlife habitat in the woodland tract. The project will allow Nature Center visitors to learn how forests change over time.
The project features five demonstration forest plots managed with best-practices wildlife and forestry techniques to create living outdoor exhibits that will allow visitors to “walk through time” and experience the successional stages of a 50-year-old forest in a short hike.
Wharton, a certified wildlife biologist, has worked in the recreation, natural resource, and environmental education field with Clarke County and the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government since 1980. He has served as an environmental educator, Leisure Services Natural Resources Division administrator, and since 2011 as the Leisure Services Department’s operations administrator.
The meeting will be held in the Nature Center’s Education and Visitor Center, 205 Old Commerce Road off U.S. Highway 441 north of Athens. To reach the center from the Loop 10 bypass, exit at U.S. Highway 441/Commerce Road and turn north toward Commerce. Go approximately a mile, turn left at the Sandy Creek Nature Center sign and go to the end of the road. Turn left at Old Commerce Road; parking for the Education and Visitor Center will be on the right.