Sibley Forest
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Sibley Forest Business Network Learns About Our Neighbor -- the National Park
Thanks to all of you who came to our SFBN meeting held on Thursday, November 3rd, at the Sibley Forest clubhouse.  We had 37 total guests who joined us for a very informative presentation.
 
Our program:
We were happy to have with us representatives from the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area:  Rick Slade, Chief of Planning and Resource Management, Dave Thomas, VIP Coordinator and his assistant Chris Cassling.
 
Rick, Dave and Chris led us through a presentation about the history of the area and the National Parks. 
 
We learned:
There are only 44 true National Parks
There are multiple other National Park sites - the Chattahoochee River is one of those sites and contains:
48 miles of river with 16 different park units
16 miles of trails
10,000 acres which is roughly 1/2 of the green space left in Atlanta
Is supported by Grants.  Only 5 parks got grants through the National Park Foundation - the Chattahoochee got multiple grants - one was sponsored by Coca-Cola.  The grants are used to revamp trails, create new trails, create signs, and general maintenance.

The Chattahoochee has on average 1.3 million people walking on the trails annually so they have to be sustainable.

So far they have managed four huge re-routes to close and fix where trails have become dangerous, which involves regrading, closing bad trails by erecting fences and planting in the old trail path, and rerouting.  A problem exists where hikers ignore trail closures and even pull up the fences and new plantings to continue using closed paths!  This is a waste of already limited resources given that the labor is all volunteer and the grants are one-time propositions.

The last project included 659 volunteers which gave 4,500 man hours to fix just one section of a trail.

Creating sustainable trails is a science - if there is over a 10% grade, foot traffic and water will wash out the trail and it becomes a ditch, which gets wider and wider as people walk around the washed-out area to either side.  New trails installed within the last 3 years are designed properly and even survived the floods of 2 years ago.

We have a wonderful resource right in our backyards, full of nature and beauty!  What is most needed from the community to continue to support this treasure is a few hours of your time. 
 
You can volunteer in many ways - picking up trash while hiking, helping with large projects and trail maintenance, and many other ways.  To see how you can get involved, please reach out to Dave Thomas at (678) 538-1244 or get on the mailing list by emailing to david_a_thomas@nps.gov so you can be alerted when they need volunteers. 
 
To see details about trails, hours and other information please visit the website at http://www.nps.gov/chat/index.htm.
 
Our next SFBN meeting will be January 12th, 2012. 
 
Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!  We look forward to seeing you next year!
 
Your SFBN Leadership Team