In spring 2005, county officials celebrated Earth Day with the grand opening of 300 feet of boardwalk through the wetlands of Reed Creek.
This year's Earth Day celebration marks the grand opening of the Reed Creek Interpretive Center, the educational building built among the wetlands and boardwalk.
The public is invited to the grand opening 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Reed Creek Park and Wetland Interpretive Center, off Furys Ferry Road in Martinez.
"Primarily, I think this area is unique because it is not just a regular park facility for active recreation," said Barry Smith, Columbia County's Community and Leisure Services Division director. "This is more of a passive experience to get in touch with nature and learn more about wetlands."
Grand opening festivities include a butterfly release at 11 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., science-related storytimes for children sponsored the Columbia County Library, live reptiles, snakes and alligators from the Fort Gordon Ecology Department, tours of the new facility and displays including ones from the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Power.
"Keep Columbia County Beautiful will be bestowed certification to be a certified Keep America Beautiful affiliate," Smith said, adding that a tree will be planted at the grand opening to commemorate the honor.
County officials completed work on the 300 feet of boardwalk through the wetlands on the 15.4-acre site in early 2005. The first phase of park construction was funded with a $75,000 state grant and $435,000 in one-cent sales tax funds.
Planning on the building, which is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, began in 2005. Smith said construction took about a year and funding included a $100,000 state grant and matching one-cent sales tax funds.
The building includes a classroom for field trips and tours and training for the county's volunteer programs including Clean and Beautiful and Adopt-A-Stream.
Smith said the third phase of the park will include another 500 feet of boardwalk, a small outdoor amphitheater for teaching and other improvements.
With the donation of 36 acres of land on the other side of Reed Creek, Smith said plans for the future are already being shaped.
"Our hopes are to put a bridge over the creek and have trails all the way to Blue Ridge Elementary," Smith said.
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