Earth Day in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Begun in 1970, Earth Day commemorates and celebrates the planet, the environment and the natural world. Occurring on April 22nd each year (this year, the holiday is on a Monday), Earth Day is a time to get outside and practice care and stewardship for the planet.
At the AMNHA, there are a variety of events going on before and around Earth Day. On Saturday the 20th, kids can join the Junior Ranger Ramble at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve to hike, garden, and explore the NHA’s rich legacy of nature and history. On Sunday, April 21st, see the sunrise at Panola Mountain, experiencing spring in midst of a pristine monadnock ecosystem. You can also craft your own hiking stick at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Center, or take a tour of AWARE to learn about Georgia’s native wildlife.
If you want to spend Earth Day in nature, enjoying and reflecting on the wild spaces of the Georgia piedmont region, we have trails crisscrossing the National Heritage Area. As well as soft trails in the parks themselves – Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and Panola Mountain State Park – over 30 miles of paved trails run through the AMNHA. These trails are called the Arabia Mountain PATH.
The northern end of the PATH begins in downtown Lithonia. The historic stone buildings of Main Street are one of the foremost human legacies of Arabia Mountain and the surrounding granite outcrops: Lithonia is a city of stone. The granite quarries at and around Arabia Mountain supported a prosperous local economy that also relied heavily on the quarry industry. Quarry activity at Arabia Mountain disturbed many of the native ecosystems that live there, but today many species are springing back and the mountain is still filled with wildlife.
As you follow the PATH south, you’ll pass Vaughters’ Farm, one of the last dairy landscapes in DeKalb County. As well as enjoying this historic agricultural landscape, you can admire the meadow that has grown out of the fallow livestock pasture. Meadows are an important ecosystem for many species, but they require disturbances such as fire to remove growing trees and allow the grass to regrow (without disturbance, meadows eventually become forest).
At Vaughters’ Farm, mowing performs that role of “disturbance” and allows the meadow to exist as you see it today. A variety of bird species thrive in this habitat, including the Eastern meadowlark. In fact, Vaughters’ Farm is one of the few spots in metro-Atlanta where bird enthusiasts can witness the meadowlark.
At the southern end of the AMNHA – and the Arabia Mountain PATH trail – lies the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. As well as the beautiful abbey and visitors’ center, the Monastery encompasses over 1,000 acres of forest and is one of the largest privately-owned greenspaces in the region. Begin your adventure at the Monastery parking lot (number 21 on the map) before meandering northwards, through the Monastery’s woodland and eventually along the South River. As you traverse the paths of the AMNHA, be sure to look out for wildlife.
Earth day is the perfect day to step outside and reflect on the natural world that surrounds us and which has created the places and communities we live in today. We hope you’ll join us in appreciation and stewardship!
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