Press Release

Fernbank Museum Begins Restoration Work on Fernbank Forest

Self-Guided Access will be Temporarily Limited

ATLANTA—Fernbank Museum of Natural History celebrates its 20th anniversary in October and is going back to its roots—Fernbank Forest. Fernbank, Inc., which today operates as the not-for-profit Fernbank Museum of Natural History, was established to preserve and protect the forest as a "school in the woods for nature study." Echoing the intent of its founders in the 1930s, Fernbank Museumis conducting a stewardship and master plan for Fernbank Forest and the entire Museum campus.

As the Museum and its team of ecologists, biologists, landscape architects and other experts assess the Forest, meet with stakeholders, and develop a plan for its future, self-guided tours will be temporarily suspended. However, Fernbank Museum will offer a number of guided opportunities to explore the beauty of Fernbank Forest during this time.

The Master Plan will address the imminent threat that non-native, invasive species are posing to the future of this 65-acre urban old-growth Piedmont forest, the largest of its kind in the United States. The Master Plan will also establish a long-term stewardship plan to ensure the Forest is healthy and accessible for generations to come. Full plans for the Forest will not be available until the Master Planning process is complete, but Fernbank Museum's first priority is to restore the health of Fernbank Forest and preserve the native ecosystem. The Master Planning process will contemplate programs that allow visitors full access to the Forest through self-guided tours and instructor-led programs to foster an even greater appreciation of the natural world. 

Timing for the development of the Master Plan comes at the conclusion of a 48-year lease to the DeKalb County School System. Management of Fernbank Forest will return to Fernbank Museum of Natural History on July 1. 

"Fernbank Forest was the inspiration for Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and as we celebrate the Museum's 20th anniversary, we are excited to offer our visitors a new connection between the many wonders of the museum experience and the infinite wonders of the natural world," said Fernbank Museum's President and CEO, Susan Neugent. "For the safety of our visitors and the integrity of our research, we will temporarily limit visitation to Fernbank Forest."

The entrance to Fernbank Forest off Heaton Park Drive will close on July 1, and self-guided tours will be temporarily suspended as research and restoration work are conducted. However, Fernbank Museum will offer various programs guided by its education team and partners to allow visitors to experience Fernbank Forest and the woodland areas directly behind the Museum. While ecological restoration work is being completed, free self-guided tours are available in Fernbank Museum's nearby Deepdene and Dellwood Parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue. Visit fernbankmuseum.org/forest for more information.

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