Sandy Springs’ Big Trees Forest gets special designation

An open space inside John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve. The Preserve is located at 7741 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. Photo by RICHARD FOWLKES/AJC STAFF
An open space inside John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve. The Preserve is located at 7741 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. Photo by RICHARD FOWLKES/AJC STAFF

Credit: RICHARD FOWLKES

Credit: RICHARD FOWLKES

John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve in Sandy Springs became a part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network, this week.

More than 100 forests across the U.S. are included in the Old-Growth Forest Network, a nonprofit established in 2011 to highlight healthy woodlands protected from commercial logging and accessible to the public, according to Old Growth Forest.

Big Trees’ 30 acres of forest has been protected from development since 1990 and holds at least 225 trees, Sandy Springs officials said. The forest, which was a cotton farm in the 1860s is located behind the North Fulton Service Center on Roswell Road. Fulton County deed 20 acres of the forest to Sandy Springs in 2006. The other 10 acres are owned by the state.

It’s open to the public during daylight hours and has signed paths.

The largest trees are thought to be 150 years old, Sustainability Manager Catherine Mercier-Baggett said in a city memo. The largest is a 50-foot-tall white oak.

Sarah Horsley, network manager for Maryland-based Old-Growth Forest Network, said forest designations reinforce continued protection of forests.

Big Trees will be the focus of a virtual discussion held by the North Fulton Master Gardeners on March 7. Volunteers with the organization help to maintain some of the native trees native shrubs, and wildflower meadows.

“We think it’s such a hidden gem in Sandy Springs especially during the pandemic,” Lee Tanenbaum, the Master Gardeners’ group marketing coordinator, said. “So many people park in the lot (at the North Fulton Service Center) and don’t know it’s there. It’s a wonderful place for families to go.”

Uriel Ali, of Charleston, SC, and his one-year-old daughter Aryana sit next to a small creek at the John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve in 2015. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Uriel Ali, of Charleston, SC, and his one-year-old daughter Aryana sit next to a small creek at the John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve in 2015. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

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