October 2021

Welcome to Fall in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area!

Fall is an especially beautiful time to enjoy the CRNRA and its panoramic views of colorful leaves. With 15 park units, there are many trails to explore and opportunities to view diverse landscapes and habitats and look for seasonal species. This is also a great time to join CNPC’s HikeCRNRA program and hike all 66 miles of CRNRA trails. For more information on HikeCRNRA click here. For trail maps of the different park units click here.

Some CRNRA Leaf Peeping Favorites

Here are a few recommendations for places to view fall leaves:

Photos by Tom Wilson

At Akers Mill, there is a moderately steep walk down to the river’s edge from the parking lot. Admire the large variety of tree types as you descend the trail. The view from the river and across to the other bank and palisade is spectacular.

Enjoy the view from the lookout platform at East Palisades. Your steep climb will be rewarded by a breathtaking view of the Chattahoochee River shoals, and October will yield a spectacular pallet of colors with a 360 degree view of the surrounding forests.

Looking for an easy walk? Head to Island Ford and walk down to the river from the park headquarters. Explore the canopied path along the river with views of the shoals. Aside from the changing leaf color, there are numerous fall wildflowers in bloom, and the opportunity to see waterfowl up close. 

The Chattahoochee River Corridor as a Migratory Flyway

A conversation with Adam Buetel, Conservation Director of Georgia Audubon

Fall is a peak time of year for bird migration, and the Chattahoochee River corridor is an especially important migratory flyway. A migratory flyway is a certain flight path or route that a large number of birds will take between their breeding and wintering grounds. Many migrating birds pass through the Atlanta area on their way to the Caribbean or Central and South America. Some birds are short distance migrants that arrive and opt to stay in Georgia or Florida for the winter before migrating back to their breeding grounds in the spring. Other birds nest in Atlanta and then migrate south for the winter to areas such as Costa Rica. Many bird species found in the CRNRA are here less than half of the year, spending the rest of the time at breeding or wintering grounds or in transit.

Large concentrations of birds move through Atlanta and Georgia following the Chattahoochee River corridor, with an estimated 30 million birds migrating over Georgia on peak days. The CRNRA provides critical habitats for the birds’ full life cycle. Whole life cycle conservation means protecting the birds and their habitats, wherever they may be, from their breeding areas to wintering ground habitats and the migration routes between them. Migrating birds need green spaces and resources to refuel for the long journey and protection from dangers such as habitat loss, light pollution, and window collisions. The CRNRA provides and conserves crucial habitats and reduces mortality to protect birds throughout the year.

To see live migration maps, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at click hereMap courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Fall is a terrific time to look for birds that are migrating through the park. Here are a few of the many excellent places in the CRNRA to observe migratory birds:

Cochran Shoals: The marshy area by the river along the Fitness Trail is an excellent place to see a variety of different migrating species, including transient birds passing through the region on their way South. One bird to spot is the Red-eyed Vireo (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-eyed_Vireo). Red-eyed Vireos breed throughout Georgia, which is the southern part of their breeding range extending up to Canada, then migrate down to the Amazon basin for the winter.

Photo of Red-eyed Vireo by Tom Wilson

Gold Branch: Gold Branch’s unique physical features create an excellent environment for birding all year round, but especially during migration. Proximity to the Morgan Falls dam and access to the river along Bull Sluice Lake provide an opportunity to view ducks, swallows, and shorebirds such as sandpipers and plovers along the exposed mud. You can often see Blue-winged Teal (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue-winged_Teal) migrating from their breeding grounds in Canada, Ohio, New York, and central US states like the Dakotas, Montana, and Iowa. Some may spend the winter here, but many continue into the tropics like Jamaica, Guatemala, or Panama.

Photo of Blue-winged Teal by Tom Wilson

Johnson Ferry South: Walking along the river at Johnson Ferry South during fall migration, you may be lucky enough to see a Golden-winged Warbler (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden-winged_Warbler). Rare to this area, these prize birds nest throughout the Appalachians, upper Midwest and New England. During migration, they can stop here in Atlanta on their way to overwinter in Costa Rica and Panama.

Photo of Golden-winged Warbler by Giff Beaton

A breeding pair of Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum) guarding a clutch of terrestrial eggs in a dry pond basin, while they patiently wait for seasonal rains to fill the pond and inundate the eggs. The females are larger and more silvery, while the males are smaller and bright white. Photo courtesy of the Amphibian Foundation

Mysterious Marbled Salamanders and their October Emergence

By Mark Mandica, Founder and Executive Director of the Amphibian Foundation

Did you know that autumn is the beginning of the breeding season for most of our native salamanders?

One of our favorite Atlanta area species is only active during the month of October. They are beautiful, secretive, and mysterious — and if your timing is just right, you just may be able to find them. I am talking about Marbled Salamanders which spend the majority of their time underground. The salamanders emerge in autumn to return to the temporary pools they were born in. That’s right, over 80% of Marbled Salamanders return each year to breed in the same ephemeral wetland they were born in — this phenomenon is known as site fidelity, and it makes it extremely important to conserve these types of wetlands.

Most amphibians show up to breed in ponds with water in them — not the Marbled Salamander! These amphibians arrive at the ponds before they fill up with water from autumn rains. They lay their eggs in dry pools and wait with their eggs until they are submerged with rainwater so they can hatch. Amazingly enough, adult Marbled Salamanders are horrible swimmers. Once the larvae hatch from the eggs, that is the only time this species actually comes in contact with water.

If all goes according to plan, by the time other species come to the pond to breed (often months later), Marbled Salamander larvae have already grown to the size where they can now feast on the other species. Yes, Marbled Salamander larvae are the top predators of their tiny aquatic ecosystem.

To learn more about Marbled Salamanders, go to https://amphibianfoundation.org/index.php/research/marbled-salamander

CNPC Officers Elected, Graham Dorian New President and Board Chair

Graham Dorian

CNPC is excited to announce its new officers effective October 1, 2021. Graham Dorian, who previously served as Treasurer for two years, is CNPC’s new President and Board Chair. Graham brings his love of the outdoors, business acumen, and boundless energy fully to bear for the benefit of CNPC and the national park we support. Rounding out the slate of new officers, Britt Storck will continue as Vice President, Ray Steed is the new Treasurer, and Peter Coffman will serve as Secretary.  

Thank You To Our Retiring Board Members

Cathy Barnard

Jay Bogan

Sarah Boyer

    We honor and thank three retiring board members for generously contributing their time and talent over many years of board service to CNPC.

    Cathy Barnard worked as the Communications Committee Chair, producing our monthly Park Post newsletter as well as coordinating press releases and our social media presence. Jay Bogan, a high-powered attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, served faithfully as Secretary for almost five years, never missing any detail.  And Sarah Boyer worked on our Projects Committee, assisting with project scheduling and signage while juggling work at Lord Aeck Sargent and a new baby during the pandemic.

    All three retiring board members contributed greatly to CNPC’s growth. When you see them in the park and around town, please personally thank them for all they have done to support CNPC and advocate for the CRNRA.

    CNPC Supports Dog Day Adventure Program

      The CRNRA is an incredible place for people and dogs to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors and fresh air on some of the top dog-friendly trails in the city. https://www.atlantamagazine.com/travel/the-best-dog-friendly-hiking-trails-in-atlanta/. Many people in the Atlanta area adopt their dogs from local pet shelters and don’t know to always carry waste bags when walking their dog, even in natural areas like the national park. Through its Bag and Bin It program, CNPC is educating dog owners about the ecological impacts of dog waste and promoting its proper disposal in dog waste bins to protect the watershed and Atlanta’s drinking water supply, as well as reduce trash in the park. To reach new pet owners and support shelter adoption, CNPC provided free Bag and Bin It educational kits to local pet shelters. Each kit includes a printed drawstring backpack, a dog-bone shaped waste bag dispenser with waste bags and a leash clip, a blinking dog-bone shaped collar clip, and an informational card about how to properly dispose of dog waste and why it matters, plus facts on protecting the watershed and the river.

      Now those shelter pups have a chance to enjoy the CRNRA. To give adoptable dogs a break from the shelter for the day, the Atlanta Humane Society hosts a Dog Day Adventure program, where registered dog walkers can check out a dog for a day to go on a hike, take a walk in the park, or even pick out a treat or toy from the pet store. Bag and Bin It backpacks are available for dog walkers to support taking the dogs out for a walk or hike in the park.

      “We work hard to make our facility as enriching and stress-free as possible for the dogs in our care, but nothing can replace the fresh air they get in the great outdoors or the comfort of being in a home with a loving foster or forever family," said Amanda Harris of the Atlanta Humane Society. "That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy - they’re making it easier to get our adoptable pups outside for some exercise and fresh air, and who knows… maybe they’ll even meet their future family out on the trails!"

      For more information on the Bag and Bin It program, go to https://www.chattahoocheeparks.org/dog_waste_program.

      For information on the Atlanta Humane Society, go to https://atlantahumane.org/.

      Photo of Atlanta Humane Society volunteer Katie and adorable Blitzen enjoying a walk at Gold Branch by Barnard

      Exploring the National Park System in Georgia: Fort Frederica National Monument

        Heading to the Georgia - Florida game or a lovely fall weekend on the coast? Be sure to stop and visit Fort Frederica National Monument on St Simons Island, located along the Southeastern Georgia coast. With 250 acres of Spanish moss and oak trees, this beautiful park boasts picturesque views and glimpses of history along the water with opportunities to explore an archaeological site and museum.

        James Oglethorpe founded the British Colony of Georgia in 1733. He established Fort Frederica three years later to protect the southern boundary of the new colony from Spanish attacks from Florida. The area was fortified with a palisade and an earthen rampart, protecting the fort, a military settlement, and the town of Frederica within its walls. The fort was strategically placed to guard against attack from the river.

        Ownership of the land between British South Carolina and Spanish Florida was considered debatable, making Georgia an important buffer for the British colonies. In 1742, the Spanish landed on St Simons with a large fleet and 2,000 troops. A large battle ensued, and the British troops defeated the Spanish in a critical victory that allowed Georgia to remain a British colony and ended Spanish efforts to expand northward along the Atlantic Coast. 

        Fort Frederica preserves the remnants of the fort and historical town, including foundation markers and streets from the original town near the water. The buildings were built using tabby, which is a mixture of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water that was used along the Georgia coast to create structures rather than wood. Visitors will enjoy learning about this important site of colonial history.

        For more information on Fort Frederica and to plan a visit, go to https://www.nps.gov/fofr/index.htm. 

        Photo by Jasperdo

        Celebrate Birdability Week October 18th - October 24th

          Birdability Week is a celebration of birders with disabilities and other health concerns and an opportunity to share resources and ideas to help the birding community be accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to everybody and every body. Click here to learn more about Birdability Week!

          Join Birdability and Georgia Audubon for two free Adaptive Field Trips that are accessible for people who experience mobility challenges: 

          • Paces Mill Unit of the CRNRA
          • Monday, October 18th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM 
          • 3444 Cobb Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30339
          • Register here: tinyurl.com/jvs9xtkw
          • Westside Park
          • Sunday, October 24th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM 
          • 1660 Johnson Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
          • Register here: tinyurl.com/3umkp64r

          For details about the accessibility of the locations for these Adaptive Field Trips, visit the Birdability site reviews for the Paces Mill Unit of the CRNRA and Westside Park. Both locations are under .75 miles from the nearest MARTA bus stop, and are fully reachable by MARTA Mobility. All trails are paved, wide, and have a gentle, if any, slope. 

          Upcoming Events:

          Walk & Talk:

          Geological Wonders of the CRNRA, October 14

          LEARN MORE

          Kids in the Park:

          Artful Nature Mapping,

          October 23

          LEARN MORE

          Follow us on social and stay updated on all park activities!

          Become a CNPC member or donate today!

          YOU can help us achieve our vision of an inspired and thriving community of support for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

          CNPC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are proud to support our Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a unit of the national park system managed by the National Park Service.

          Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy
          P.O. Box 769332, Roswell, GA 30076
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