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Land Trust brings out the natural beauty in Suwanee

It was a sad day in May when Dale Higdon, my friend the forest ranger, told me he was going to retire. Not only has he spoon fed me about a dozen columns over the years, but he's also been only a click away when I needed advice about trees, including the ones in my backyard.

But as it turns out, Higdon only retired from his job with the Georgia Forestry Commission. He's since transitioned to the position of board member of the Gwinnett Open Land Trust, which now, due to increase in conservation awareness, has grown beyond the county and has been renamed Georgia Piedmont Land Trust.

Through GPLT is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that receives no government funding, individuals can donate land to be preserved and protected from development.

Higdon's latest contribution to my inbox concerns a public-private partnership in Suwanee involving the city, a commercial developer and one of my favorite groups, the Boy Scouts.

CBMT, the developers of the Plaza at Suwannee Station, have donated eight acres of land to GPLT to be preserved as green space. But it won't be just a stretch of weeds covered with kudzu.

"We're making a lifetime dedication to preserving green space to provide an ideal environment for people to work and play," said Vincent Catanzaro, of CBMT.

Last October, Matt Masters, the Plaza's landscape architect, shared Catanzano's vision with Boy Scout Troop 513, which meets at The Family Church in Sugar Hill. Tyler Bramblett, a freshman at North Gwinnett High School, jumped on the opportunity to make this his service project for his Eagle Scout badge.

Under Bramblett's supervision, the whole troop along with dedicated adults built two bat boxes, three wood duck boxes, five bluebird houses and two garden benches for the site. They also cleared out paths, which they covered with a truckload of mulch.

To follow through with Bramblett's efforts, the City of Suwanee removed all invasive plants to promote the health of existing native trees. To attract birds, they planted 400 fruit bearing shrubs. And to keep this harmony between man and nature going, BS Troop 513 has pledged to maintain the project in the future.

"It's good to know my Eagle project isn't a project just to get it done with and move on. I know it's going to be there for awhile and help the environment," Bramblett said.

I was very impressed when I walked the trail, but you don't even have to touch ground to get the effect of this community project.

Dr. Ronald Perry of Gwinnett Urgentcare said: "A person's overall experience starts when they pull into the Plaza's tree-lined drive. The atmosphere is very calming and upscale. The experience sets the tone for the type of care they'll receive from us as well."

For more information on land trusts, visit www.gwinnettlandtrust.org.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4 @yahoo.com.