Every action starts with a thought, an idea, and a voiced desire. The Visitor Center Island at Chattahoochee Bend State Park came about that same way.
It started around a warming fire at the annual deer hunt in December 2018. Park Manager Erin Kenner voiced the desire to have a fire pit across from the Visitor Center. She even knew where we could get a large one for groups of people to gather around. Her suggestion was to replace the larger than-needed fire pit at a campground host site with a standard-size pit and save the large one for this later project.
In 2019 the fire pits were swapped out, and we set the large pit aside. The island development ideas continued to percolate through Erin’s mind. Bird feeders and a picnic table were easy additions, but what else would be nice to have there?
One idea was to improve the landscape by removing non-natives and bringing in more native shrubs. After the area had a controlled burn, work began. Throughout 2020-2021 Friends volunteers, headed by Phil LaRue, planted native plants throughout the island landscape. We now have a nice mix of Milkweed, Liatris (Blazing Star), Native Azalea, Monarda, American Beautyberry, Christmas ferns, and Pink Ladyslipper orchids. Red Bud trees, Loblolly, and Longleaf pines have also been planted.
The next opportunity came from the combined efforts of all the office staff promoting Friends membership sales. In 2021, Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites launched a Friends membership drive challenge. Our park went on to win and received a monetary reward. Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park added more funds to that award and purchased a 4’ swing. Friends volunteers installed the frame in August and the swing on September 2, 2022.
The community is also getting involved with this project. Back in March, the volunteer group at Synovus approached the park about what they might do as a volunteer project. The fire pit idea was explained, and chapter members felt they could provide benches.
This next step in beautification will take place in October. Grading of the area will be done by park staff before the workday installation of the fire pit and benches.
Soon it will be a functional area with a swing, picnic table, fire pit, and benches. What a great place for gatherings, programs, or just S’mores! Come Spring, the native plant blooms will be revealed. Future plans hope to include wildflower beds placed in the sunnier spot and a paved walking trail. Tammy and Jimmy Cash are already researching wildflower beds for along the roadways. This knowledge will help when the time comes to add flowers to the island.
A trail will weave through the island, taking visitors above the ‘Chatt Bend’ rock sign. An excellent opportunity for personal photos with the Park sign!
If you would like to support improvements at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, you can do so by contacting the Friends group at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us a bendfriend.org