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Shamrock Forest

The Shamrock forest is a newly opened up area that is accessible from behind the Druid Hills Middle School baseball field. 

Tree Planting: January 12 & 13, 2012 - We will be planting 250 trees to replace the privet we have been pulling.  The trees include cypress, river birch, wild plum, red cedar, and persimmon.  Just bring a shovel so you can dig in and help bring back the forest.

Eagle Scout Projects: At least one Boy Scout Troup is looking at Shamrock Forest as a possible site for some Eagle Scout projects. If you know of other scouts looking for projects, have them send an email to Bill Sapp.

The Shamrock Forest Story 
Less than 50 years ago, cattle grazed on the banks of Burnt Fork Creek. There are still some cedar fence posts and barbed wire strands in the Forest. Once the cattle left, loblolly pine, laurel oaks, and tulip poplar grew up and formed a canopy high up in the sky to shade the forest floor. Ferns, flowering dogwoods, and wild flowers nestled in among the trunks.  

But then trouble arrived.  About 30 years ago escapees from neighborhood yards invaded the forest.  Carried by birds or growing overland, Chinese privet, English Ivy, and a host of other invasive plants gained a foothold. These non-natives quickly shaded out the ferns and wild flowers. While the ivy created a creeping carpet on the ground and up the tree trunks, the privet formed a dense twenty-foot high jungle.  With little light reaching the forest floor, the ferns, flowers, and tree seedlings were forced to retreat or lie dormant.  

Over the years, a few brave machete-wielding souls have cut trails through the privet on this county-owned flood plain property, but more often than not, the privet reclaimed these trails within a year or two.  Five years ago, however, one of your neighbors--frustrated by the privet and enamored by the hidden forest--hacked out a two-mile long trail system.  He even built a tree house on top of the hill. Working with other folks from the neighborhood, he then cleared out an acre of privet from where the picnic tables are now. However, it was a continuing struggle to keep the privet at bay. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, the County could not help, but wished these volunteers well in their trail-building efforts.

Three years ago, someone affiliated with Oglethorpe Power learned of Shamrock Forest and suggested that it could help.  That year Oglethorpe Power and its sister companies decided to make Shamrock Forest the site of their annual company volunteer day. They brought over three hundred volunteers who helped widen the trails and beat back the privet. They also donated picnic tables, helped build the stairs, and built the rail road tie bridge. And then they returned the next year and cut some new trail sections and cut up a slew of trees that had fallen in the forest. They were joined by a team from Enterprise and a group from the neighborhood.  A few months later, twenty individuals from the McKenna Long Aldridge law firm joined with a group from the neighborhood and ripped out enough privet to double the size of the picnic area.  

As a result of all of this work, the Shamrock Forest of old was starting to reappear.  Ferns and pokeweed were growing again.  Children were coming down to the creek to look for crayfish and salamanders and runners were seen charging up the tree-house hill.  Science teachers from Druid Hills Middle were venturing into the Forest with their students to do stream testing and identify plants.   Many of these students returned to the Forest with their parents and spent hours removing English Ivy.   

Last January, parents and children from the neighborhood joined by volunteers from Emory planted over 200 trees to replace the privet that had been removed in the picnic area and along the trails. The trees were donated by the Southern Environmental Law Center. And just last month, the big bridge was completed to make access to the Forest easier.  Georgia Transmission donated the poles and BAH3 donated the labor and other materials that made this bridge possible.

And now, Oglethorpe Power and its sister companies are returning once again on October 6th. This will probably be the last time that they will join us, so it would be great if we could show them how much we appreciate their efforts by turning out in force as a community. By the end of this year's event, these companies will have donated over 3,000 hours of volunteer time to Shamrock Forest and our community. Please join the effort to bring back the forest!