Two of Chattanooga’s oldest and best-known outdoor recreation and nature education institutions – Reflection Riding Arboretum and Botanical Garden and the Chattanooga Nature Center – have reorganized to become The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center. The site is located along Lookout Creek at the western base of Lookout Mountain, surrounded by the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Announcement of the reorganization was made jointly by John Mitchum, president of the newly-established board of directors for the CA&NC and Angie Conroy, vice president.
“The Nature Center is adding its 17 acres of land and improvements to the 300 acre Arboretum under a single integrated master plan and trust board,” Ms. Conroy said. “The end result will be a stronger regional initiative, an expansion of educational offerings, and a sharper focus on Chattanooga’s spectacular scenic beauty and natural resources.”
“18 months ago, the two organizations formed a joint strategic and long-term planning committee with members of each board and an independent facilitator,” said Mr. Mitchum. “Our goal now is to build on what we already have, and create an outdoor and educational experience that will be unique beyond any other in the region.”
The organization offers a variety of educational and recreational activities, and a diverse ecology. With over 120 identified species of trees and 50 animals native to East Tennessee, Children can have a hands-on experience learning outside of the classroom.
Visitors can canoe along Lookout Creek, hike among 15 miles of trails, or take a guided historical tour of the grounds. A public nursery features native plants indigenous to the area, among much more.
Incorporated in 1956, Reflection Riding was the inspiration of the late John and Margaret Chambliss who transformed abandoned farmland into a model of conservation, and a place of natural beauty for the public to enjoy. The Reflection Riding Land Conservation Trust will continue this stewardship mission.
The Chattanooga Nature Center was formed in 1978 on land donated by Reflection Riding acquired from the family of Harold and Marie Humphreys, long time residents of the site, in a joint development effort initiated by the board president of Reflection Riding, Susan Chambliss Irvine, and the Junior League of Chattanooga.
Since that time, over half a million students have come to the site for hands-on field classes. According to Dr. Jean Lomino, CA&NC executive director, “The goal is to inspire people, not only with wonder for the natural world, but also with the knowledge necessary to preserve nature for future generations.”