Troy University’s arboretum and nature preserve was recently awarded nearly $6,000 in grants from both the Wiregrass Resource, Conservation and Development Council and the Alabama Audubon Society to help with continued upgrades and restoration efforts.
Dr. Alvin Diamond, arboretum director and biology professor, said the $5,000 grant from Wiregrass RC&D will be used to install pedestrian crossing over a stream that runs between the Magnolia Loop and Hickory trails.
“It will connect the existing Magnolia Loop Trail, and we’ll be opening back up the Hickory Loop Trail, which is on the other side, and will give us access to about 20 more acres that we can’t really access now,” he said.
The funds will be used to purchase an aluminum pre-fab structure that will span across the creek to connect the trails from both sides. The arboretum was also previously awarded a $3,000 grant from the organization, and Diamond said he and the arboretum’s staff and volunteers are grateful for the continued support.
“We greatly appreciate the funding and their continued support of our redevelopment of the arboretum,” he said. “We appreciate everyone who has supported us and invite the public to come out as soon as we get this new work done to explore the new trails.”
Along with the grant from Wiregrass RC&D, Alabama Audubon Society issued a $739 grant for the purchase of nesting sites and food for native wildlife, particularly birds. Over the spring, a bird viewing area was installed featuring benches, bird feeders and a bird bath with plans to install bird houses and an informational kiosk with information about the types of birds that can be found at the arboretum.
“We’ve planted things like oaks and berry bushes that birds like, and we’re working on clearing an area to plant long leaf and wiregrass, since this is the Wiregrass region and no one really knows what wiregrass actually is,” Diamond said.
Staff and volunteers have continued to work on improvements during the summer months and have installed a dock in the pier, cleaned up the areas around the pond and clearing invasive species. They’re also in the process of buying plants for the pitcher plant bog. Storage lockers have been installed in the educational building so that microscopes and other equipment can be secured, and Diamond said this will allow more classes to be held there this fall.
Despite the heat, the arboretum continues to welcome visitors both locally and from across the nation that are passing through.
“We’ve got people from all over the United States who have been coming out there,” he said. “North Carolina, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington State. We’re listed on the Alabama Department of Tourism’s website, so when people are driving to or back from the beach, they’ll stop and walk the dog or get the kids out of the car for a little bit.”
To stay up-to-date on the latest projects, visit the arboretum’s Facebook page.