People Protect Places—Leave No Trace

With warmer weather, it’s important to remember the delicateness of the Heritage Area’s environments, and how its on visitors to help protect Arabia Mountain and beyond.

Did you know that Arabia and Panola Mountains are home to fragile ecosystems and species found almost nowhere else on earth? That includes a variety of rare and endangered plants, species like diamorpha, snorklewort, and quillwort. These plants live in the solution pits (small patches of sand, dirt, and muddy water) that dot the seemingly barren rock face. At various times of the year, the plants that live in the solution pits bloom, covering the mountain with a beautiful show of life.

“Leave No Trace has always meant to me that people are always welcome,” said Revonda Cosby, Executive Director of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, which manages the the Heritage Area just 20 minutes east of Downtown Atlanta.” But nature didn’t come with trash, so we shouldn’t leave any.” Revonda emphasizes three Rs she uses when in nature: Reduce, Remove, and Repeat. “Reduce what you bring, remove what you bring, and repeat,” she said. “It’s that easy.”

There are a few more easy pointers to keep in mind. In order to sustain the natural beauty of our ecosystem and wildlife, we ask that visitors “Leave No Trace” and follow these simple steps:

Don’t be a plant killer! Diamorpha grows in the mountain’s solution pits and can be easily damaged by our footsteps.

Please leash your pets so they do not disturb the delicate habitats.

Rock scraping and chalk rock art are big no nos at the preserve.

  • Stay on the gray. Watch your step. Some trails go out on the bare rock outcrop. When you do, we ask that you stick to the bare granite whenever possible. Lichen and patches of sand, mud, and water appear on the rock face too, but they can be damaged by foot traffic. Wherever possible, stick to the bare granite – that way, you can enjoy the flowers that grow out of those muddy, sandy patches.
  • Dispose of waste properly. Pack in, pack out! Properly dispose of all waste. Use reusable water bottles. Do not release balloons or drop any trash on the ground. 
  • Leash your dog (and pack their poo)! Our dogs can be tempted to run through and drink from the puddles on the mountain. It’s tempting to let them, but please don’t! If you keep your dog on a leash, they won’t run through the puddles and disrupt the habitat. (If you’re worried about water, be sure to bring a small bowl and water bottle in your backpack!) And if your dog poops, please pick it up and take it with you. For well-behaved pooches, check out our Bark Ranger program!
  • Leave nature as you found it. Take only pictures, shift only emotions. Please leave flowers, rocks, and other pieces of nature out in the wild. Don’t remove or damage plants, trees, rocks or cultural artifacts. Do not stack the rocks. But if you have trash, be sure to bring it home with you.
  • Ride respectfully. There is NO riding permitted on ANY rock surfaces. Bikes are permitted only on paved areas to keep plant life safe. Keep out of solution pits.
  • Respect research. Please do not disturb loose rocks. Arabia Mountain is still changing and has active geologic research—a potential earthquake even struck last year. Folks are doing all sorts of interesting studies. So leave the rocks be.
  • No rock art. Please no scraping or carving images into the mountain face or any rocks. No chalk art either. The rock surface might look dead but it actually contains diverse microorganisms that create a biofilm. These habitats and solution pits on Arabia Mountain are fragile and take hundreds of years to form.

Those are the basics of Leave No Trace in the National Heritage Area (and beyond). Help us continue to preserve our beautiful ecosystem. We have a Volunteer Stewardship Day the first Saturday of each month from 1-3:30pm at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. Visit our events calendar for more volunteer opportunities, and check out this cool video from Ranger Robby for more info: