Above: Mark Wills walks his dogs at Blue Heron Nature Preserve, celebrating its 20th anniversary, along the Blueway Trail. Photos by Asep Mawardi.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve has plenty to celebrate in April. Not only will the North Buckhead environmental center mark its 20th anniversary on Earth Day, but it’s also honoring the arrival of a new executive director and the opening of phase one of the Blueway Trail.

The Roswell Road environmental center installed two new bridges connecting 30 acres of greenspace with a three-mile walking trail known as the Blueway Trail. The project took three years to complete and Blue Heron raised over $750,000 for trail construction and improvements.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve volunteers and staff
Mark Wills and his dogs are surrounded by Blue Heron Nature Preserve staff and volunteers as they celebrate the nature preserve’s 20th anniversary. Melody Harclerode, right front, is the new executive
director of Blue Heron Nature Preserve.

“Visitors can now travel seamlessly to all three Blue Heron properties. It’s a significant milestone as we continue to grow and evolve,” said outgoing executive director Kevin McCauley. “Plans for Phase 2 include linking Blue Heron’s trails to nearby Chastain Park and PATH400.”

A free festival is planned to introduce the new trail network to the public during the annual Earth Day Celebration on April 25. Highlights will include music, food, art and family-friendly activities. (Please check the website first!)

The nature center is also celebrating the arrival of award-winning architect and environmentalist Melody Harclerode as its new executive director. Harclerode’s credentials include stints as director of the Sandy Springs Conservancy and program coordinator at Arabia Mountain.

“We are thrilled to welcome Melody to Blue Heron,” McCauley said. “She has a passion for the natural world and brings a wealth of experience to expand the opportunities for us to bring an understanding and appreciation for this special place.”

“Blue Heron Nature Preserve has inspired children and adults about nature through the arts, education, conservation, research and innovative projects for 20 years,” Harclerode said. “Building upon Kevin McCauley’s accomplishments, I am honored to work with the staff, board members and volunteers as the new executive director, to boost the impact, support and appreciation of this amazing green space in Atlanta.”

Blue Heron Nature Preserve shares its facilities at 4055 Roswell Road with the Atlanta Audubon Society and The Amphibian Foundation, making the preserve an environmental asset unlike any other in metro-Atlanta.

Learn more about Blue Heron Nature Preserve, its many events and how to support the nature preserve at bhnp.org.


Earth Day Connections

Here’s a sampling of the many area organizations that are dedicated to preserving and protecting our natural landscapes and resources. Check their websites for special events.


Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful, kab.org, is committed to its mission to inspire people to improve and beautify their community’s environment. Local chapters include:

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.