Heggie’s Rock Preserve
Undoubtedly one of the most unusual landscapes in Columbia County, and to quote The Nature Conservancy, “it happens to be one of the finest remaining examples of a piedmont flat rock outcrop.” It is characterized by exposed granite rock with dish gardens and stunted trees scattered throughout the landscape. No matter the age or environmental education, a trip to Heggie’s Rock will leave you a little more environmentally amazed and aware.
Preserve tours are conducted during the spring and the fall months. For more information on tour dates, visit The Nature Conservancy’s website. Tour guide training for volunteers is scheduled by appointment only. The training sessions are conducted by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Dr. Judy Gordon of Georgia Regents University. Prospective volunteers who have an interest in tour guide training certification should email Andrew Strickland or call (706) 868-3400. If you are interested in getting involved but are not quite ready to volunteer as a tour guide, the Friends of Heggie’s Rock is a local organization that may be of interest.
To read more about all of The Nature Conservancy's preserves in Georgia, click here.
Landmark Greenspace Protection in Columbia County (January 2005)
Through the cooperation of various public and private partners, 140 acres of critical wildlife habitat in Columbia County is now protected, announced Ron Cross, chairman of the Columbia Board of Commissioners. Partners contributing to the protection of this property include the Columbia County Greenspace Program, the State of Georgia’s Greenspace Program, the Georgia Land Trust Service Center (GLTSC), Martin Marietta Aggregates, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District and several private land owners. Mr. Cross also acknowledged the special assistance of former District 1 Commissioner, Mr. Steve Brown, Mr. Keith Hedrick, of Martin-Marietta, and the landowners, in this transaction.
Located adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s Heggie’s Rock Preserve in Columbia County, the undeveloped wooded site contains an abundance of wildlife, granite outcrops, valuable wetlands, streams, and aquatic habitat within the floodplain of Little Kiokee Creek, a tributary of the Savannah River. This important acquisition protects 30 acres of granite outcrops and further protects Heggie’s Rock Preserve, the most pristine and biodiverse granitic outcrop remaining in the Piedmont.
The Greenspace Advisory Board made the recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to accept this parcel into the Greenspace Program's inventory. The Greenspace Advisory Board is responsible for identifying targeted parcels in the program that would enhance the county's greenspace goals. However, the funds remaining from the grant received from the state was not enough to purchase the 140.27 acre parcel, so other funding sources supplemented the purchase.
Funding for Columbia County’s acquisition of the site came from Georgia Wetland Trust Fund, the State of Georgia’s Greenspace Program Grant, which included Grovetown's allocations for Greenspace, SPLOST funds earmarked for Columbia County Passive Recreation and Greenways and The Nature Conservancy.
“Columbia County is committed to achieving the goal of preserving 20 percent of the county’s land for greenspace,” said Barry Smith, director of Columbia County’s Leisure Services Division. “Greenspace is used for passive recreational areas like pocket parks, open spaces and nature trails. The greenspace program assures county residents that certain properties will remain in their undeveloped and natural state to be enjoyed by present and future generations,” said Smith.
With the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the remaining funding was provided by monies Columbia County paid to the Georgia Land Trust Service Center’s trust account for wetland and stream mitigation. The Corps of Engineers required wetland and stream mitigation in exchange for granting Columbia County authorization to dredge and widen the Reed Creek Diversionary Canal for flood relief.
“The use of mitigation funds from the Georgia Land Trust wetland and stream account for the protection of special aquatic resources keeps the environment in balance,” said Hans Neuhauser, director of the GLTSC. The GLTSC works in partnership with the Corps of Engineers by finding and protecting valuable aquatic resources in Georgia.
A conservation easement will be placed on the property to be held by The Nature Conservancy. “By protecting this property, all of the partners involved are helping to create a greenspace corridor that future generations can enjoy,” said Steve Friedman, director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.
Martin Marietta Aggregates, which held a lease on the 140 acres, worked closely with Columbia County to release their mining rights to this property. Without Martin Marietta’s cooperation and recognition of the value of this property, the acquisition could never have gone forward.