Bear Creek Nature Center located in Chattahoochee Hills (BCNC) plans to host “Reptile Rally” on Nov. 13. While BCNC itself resides in Fulton County, they still serve the broad West Georgia community and receive help from a handful of UWG’s alumni, current students and faculty along with other Georgia conservation organizations.
In their previous event “Batstravaganza” on Oct. 2, BCNC and the community gathered together to support the continued conservation efforts of bats. The event brought together fellow conservation programs like Southern Conservation Trust and several UWG graduate students who performed bat netting demonstrations and engaged with visitors as educators. The Biology Department’s Dr. Andrew Edelman and Dr. David Morgan also pitched in efforts through donated education materials and consultations respectively.
“Several of our key volunteers and supporters are involved in the communities of the West Georgia region. Specifically the University of West Georgia,” says Joanne Wasdin, BCNC’s Outreach Educator and naturalist. “Of our [very small] staff, two of us are recent graduates from UWG’s biology program.”
For the “Reptile Rally”, BCNC hopes to provide wildlife education for a wide community in partnership with Georgia Reptile Society, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Southern Conservation Trust and Quail Forever which is based in Carroll County.
“Reptile Rally” will involve outdoor activities such as games, crafts, hiking and naturalist-led walks. BCNC currently houses 16 animal ambassadors including bats, owls and turtles among other species who will be available for viewing and some interacting. The event will also feature guest animal ambassadors, including rare and endangered native species.
The event aims to bring awareness to ecosystems and appreciation for reptiles. West Georgia holds a place as one of the most biodiverse regions in regards to reptile, amphibian and freshwater fish populations, therefore education becomes a necessary tool to preserve habitats for future generations.
Despite a common misconception and fear of snakes, snakes and other reptiles serve as vital creatures in their ecosystems and can sometimes protect gardens from unwanted pests.
“Reptiles are often some of our first indicators in an ecosystem of its health, so understanding them and their needs can often help our human communities cultivate healthy habits for our own homes and contribute to our wellbeing as part of the same habitat,” says Wasdin. “Right now, there are many invasive plants, and a need to manage the rural forests to bring out some of the native understory of the forest, as well as to support riparian habitats and bird and reptile habitats.”
Over the past few years, regions all over the states, including Georgia have experienced significant loss or damage to water habitats. The education efforts put forth by conservation programs and biologists remain a crucial force to fight against the effects of industry, invasive species and other impending factors on a local scale.
Since BCNC opened in 2020, they have provided the community with knowledge and opportunities to advocate for the welfare and habitats of native wildlife.
“Our goal is to help people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences to find ways that they can participate in local conservation efforts,” says Wasdin.
“Reptile Rally” will take place between 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Nov. 13 and cost $5 per person for admission or free for BCNC members. Otherwise, BCNC remains open Tuesday through Saturday from 11a.m.-4 p.m. More information can be found at bearcreeknaturecenter.org or by calling 770-306-0914.