I've confessed from this column's inception that I'm not an expert on all things Grassland. I'm merely a seven-year resident with a love for Grassland's beauty, landmarks and people. That said, I'm still embarrassed to admit I didn't realize Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary was in the Grassland area.
Every time I'd see an event listed at Owl's Hill, I'd glaze over it because in my mind it was one and the same with Owl Hollow, a place my husband had visited that seemed far, far away. Owl Hollow is actually a gun range ten miles south of downtown Franklin. In hindsight, a nature sanctuary doesn't mix all that well with a gun range, now does it?
Then I recently read "Grassland Community" in the dateline of an article about Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary in The Tennessean. Grassland Community? This is something I should obviously know about. So I investigated.
Well, Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary is 160 acres of protected green space near Beech Creek Road. (I'd always wondered what was back there.) Their mission is education, conservation, restoration, research and species protection. Who knew?
It's only open to the public during scheduled programs or by reservation, but fortunately there's a special wildflower tour offered next Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. for adults age 18 and over. A trained guide will identify flowers, plants, butterflies and songbirds throughout their wonderful walking trails. You'll want to wear comfortable shoes and bring your camera and binoculars. The walk begins promptly at 1 p.m. and reservations are strongly recommended. The cost is $6. Visit http://www.owlshill.org/ or call 370-4672 for more information.
For the kiddos, make reservations now for Owl's Hill's summer camps.
Children in kindergarten through third grade can do all things buggy at "BugOut" camp or sharpen their senses at "NatureDetective" camp or explore Owl's Hill's 450 million year old rock formations and look for the remains of sea creatures at "FossilFun" camp.
Kids ages 9-12 should consider "NatureRanger Camp." It allows serious nature lovers the opportunity to learn about trees and insects, monitor species, explore the habitats of reptiles and amphibians, and participate in a scavenger hunt and cookout.
"CompassCamp," filled with hands-on games and activities, teaches teens ages 12 – 17 the skills of map-reading and compass use. Campers learn to follow unmarked trails as well as basic orienteering skills.
"NatureExplorer Camp" invites teens to join a group conservation project. They explore ponds and creek, learn monitoring and wildlife census skills and create a nature journal.
These camps fill up quickly, so visit http://www.owlshill.org/ to download a registration form or call 370-4672 for more information.
I'd love to hear stories about your experiences at Owl's Hill so I can see what I've been missing all these years. And by all means, please let me know about other hidden (or not-so-hidden) treasures I'm missing in our community!