90 Acres Protected on Sawnee Mt. (GA)

Forsyth County, GA, 1/12/03: Forsyth County has purchased 90 more acres of land for a natural park on Sawnee Mountain – bringing the total area protected to 715 acres. The county bought the latest tract from the Georgia office of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) using funds from the Georgia Community Greenspace Program. The total assemblage, meanwhile, has been acquired with funds from the greenspace program — as well as the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) voters approved in 1998 and general county revenues.

“We had already started working on Sawnee Mountain prior to the existence of the greenspace program,” says Forsyth County Administrator Stevie Mills, “but the greenspace program definitely helped. We are delighted to be able to get this tract of land.”

Mills also credits the family of Mark Mashburn for making the dream of conserving Sawnee Mountain possible.

“We are very grateful to the family,” Mills says. “They made this happen by working with the county and the Trust for Public Land.”

The property consists of 90 acres of undeveloped mountain land located on the north side of Sawnee Mountain. It is heavily wooded, has large rock outcroppings, and dramatic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This critical tract of land links properties previously assembled and acquired by TPL and conveyed to the county for permanent protection. (TPL is a nonprofit organization that protects natural and historic resources.) The Mashburn land also provides better access for passive recreation and hiking to the “Indian Seats” area at the top of the mountain. The property will be managed by the county parks department as well as a private nonprofit corporation, the Sawnee Mountain Foundation.

“I think the Mashburn acquisition is extremely significant in helping the county continue the legacy of protecting the view of and from Sawnee Mountain,” says John Kieffer, the former county commission chairman who played an active role in the project.

“This is really a wonderful place that people will be able to enjoy, and it’s incredible to think we have something like this in Forsyth County. Typically, you would have to go to the north Georgia mountains to see the kind of view you see from the top of Sawnee Mountain.”

While relishing the opportunity to protect the Mashburn land, TPL Project Manager Chris Deming points out that there is more to be accomplished. “Every time I’m in Forsyth County and I mention to someone what we’re working on, people say how glad they are that the mountain is being protected,” Deming says. “They have a very special connection with this place. But there is more to do, and we expect to be able to acquire even more land for the park this year.”

About TPL: Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate — applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has saved more than 1.4 million acres of land. In Georgia, TPL has helped protect land throughout the state – including nearly 70 miles along the Chattahoochee River. It has also conserved land on Georgia’s coast and rivers, and in urban centers.