March 2022

Spring Blooms in the Park 

At the Conservancy, we love springtime. Longer days mean more time to explore and enjoy the CRNRA. It’s also the time of year to launch new projects to enhance and improve the park. Thanks to your generous support, we are putting the finishing touches on some exciting plans for 2022. More details to come…

Photo by Tom Wilson

Coming Soon - Pollinator Garden at Island Ford 

Over the next few months, you will begin to see changes to the landscape adjacent to the entrance of the historic Hewlett Lodge at Island Ford. Plans are in place by the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area to enhance the visitors' experience with a welcoming garden as they approach the park’s headquarters. The Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy is sponsoring this project under the direction of Allyson Read, CRNRA Natural Resource Specialist. The project will result in a meadow restoration for the benefit of birds and pollinators, In addition to adding beauty, the garden can also be used as an environmental education site.

The garden will be designed to meet the requirements of a Georgia Audubon certified wildlife sanctuary. The project leverages the expertise of Georgia Audubon, who will be contracted for site preparation, management of non-native and native invasives, and additional locally-native plant installations. There will also be opportunities for park volunteers as the project progresses.

We are excited about the benefits to birds and pollinators that this new garden will bring as well as the education opportunities that it will offer visitors. Please go to to support this new initiative.

Photo by Tom Wilson

Park Highlight: Medlock Bridge 

The Medlock Bridge unit of the CRNRA, located in Duluth, GA, is CNPC’s Park Unit of the Month for March. Medlock Bridge is amongst the smallest within the CRNRA system, with a network of ~1.4 miles of unique hiking trails in an out-and-back fashion.

Visitors to Medlock Bridge begin their hike from a parking lot at the north end of park. A well-maintained path runs south from the parking area, following the curve of the Chattahoochee for a little less than half a mile before presenting a fork and offering hikers a choice of paths to follow. Hikers who wish to extend their time outdoors and distance covered can take a circuitous route and explore all loops and spurs within the system. When done this way, exploration of the Medlock Bridge trail system can easily take up an hour of time and cover many miles.

In addition to hiking trails, visitors to the Medlock Bridge unit can also access a picnic area and a boat ramp. It’s this easy access to the Chattahoochee River that make Medlock Bridge a popular destination for paddlers of all types – kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard to name a few. As the first designated National Water Trail in the country, the Chattahoochee River is worth exploring from both land and water, and the Medlock Bridge unit of the CRNRA is the perfect place to do both! 

Check out the trail map for Medlock Bridge and get your completion forms for the HikeCRNRA program by going to


The CRNRA supports many different types of animals including birds, amphibians, fish, and mammals. Among the park’s most interesting residents are North American River Otters, a semi-aquatic mammal that can be found throughout the park but are frequently seen frolicking by East Palisades. River otters enjoy a wide habitat range, with males sometimes occupying up to 50 miles of waterways. When not on the move, river otters generally burrow in dens near the river. The species will follow land paths to cross from one body of water to another, leaving scent paths to mark their territories.

River otters generally grow to be between three and five feet in length, although their tails make up approximately one-third of their length. Their average weight is generally 15 to 30 pounds. While most river otters have dark brown fur, some have coats that are black or red; nearly all have bellies that are lighter in color, with hues ranging from yellow to light brown to silver.

In addition to providing shelter and water to river otters, the CRNRA also provides the species with an abundant diet. Otters are carnivores and dine on reptiles, birds, insects, fish, and crustaceans. Otters will use their whiskers to detect prey, then quickly dive or chase their food. Because otters are so reliant on waterways for their habitat, the species is often used as an indicator of environmental health. It bodes well for all of us that river otters currently call the CRNRA home! 

Photo of Otter in the Chattahoochee River by Tom Wilson

People of the Park: Allyson Read 

This month we had the opportunity to talk with Allyson Read. She is a Biologist with the NPS, working at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA). This is an important role as the CRNRA is a very diverse biological park. One of the programs she is involved with is the Pollinator Garden at Island Ford.

What is your favorite CRNRA park? 

Good question, as all the units have their own distinctive features. But I would say East Palisades, and then also Gold Branch and Bowmans Island since they are less trafficked. 

I know you spend a lot of time in the CRNRA, but is there another National Park on your bucket list? 

I would love to visit the Grand Teton National Park ( in Wyoming. There are the mountains, but also other geological features and a variety of wildlife and plants. 

How did you get involved with the CRNRA and CNPC?

Previously I worked at the Dunwoody Nature Center, but also volunteered at “GeoSphere,” an earlier “friends” group of CRNRA. Then I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Wildlife Management and Ecology at the University of Georgia. As I was completing my studies, an opening was posted at CRNRA. I applied and got the job.  

Have you always enjoyed the outdoors?   

Yes, we were always outdoors growing up. My family lived in Dunwoody when it was just being developed. There was so much to see and explore - forests, creeks and a variety of animals. 

One final question, do you have a favorite nature book or movie you would like to share? 

A favorite is Watership Down by Richard Adams. It’s a book my father gave me when I was growing up.

Upcoming Events: 


Thank you to our Party Patrons and everyone that has purchased tickets for our first-ever fundraiser.  



9:30  - 11:30 AM 




8 AM - 11 PM 


Community Thank You:  

Thank you to the below CNPC members for becoming Party Patrons for our first-ever fundraiser Party for the Park on

March 15. We appreciate your donation to help us provide the CRNRA with the support it requires and deserves.  

Christina Blackney 

Mary Virginia & Peter Coffman

Jennifer & Graham Dorian

Alice Franklin

Debi & Alex Hinerfeld

Cathy & Phillip Hodges

Blythe Jeffers  & John Hodgson 

Henry Howell

Dyna Kohler

Kevin & Ann Latty

Terri & Cheri Morris 

Jeanne & Ray Steed

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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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