Sautee Nacoochee, GA

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

Rich in Natural Heritage

Sautee Valley behind Stovall House

Part of SNCA's mission is to preserve and protect our natural and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the larger community. The Sautee Nacoochee Center has long been a champion for the flora, fauna, habits and viewscapes of the area. Environmental protection of these valleys that we steward was, in fact, a catalyst for the founding of the organization.

Northeast Georgia is an ancient and ecologically complex area. The Appalachians are rich in wildlife and one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. Two millennia of Native American life were followed by two centuries of rapid change. Human settlement has impacted these mountains and their foothills. Protecting the plants and animals that call it home is critical to our future survival.

The hilly and mountainous areas of White and Habersham counties that surround the Sautee and Nacoochee valleys include major forestlands and waterways. Much of northern White County lies in the Chattahoochee National Forest, parts of which are incorporated into two of Georgia's premier state parks, Unicoi and Smithgall Woods.

SNCA Gardens

Open from dawn until dusk, classes, tours and events are scheduled year round. Everyone is welcome!

Adaptive Garden

Located next to the Cultural Center, this garden presents examples of adaptive gardening: a bench planter, a stacked block planter and a trug.

Heritage Garden
Native Peace Garden

This example of a slave garden presents the kind of garden that masters may have let slaves plant and tend near their dwellings. It provided supplemental food as well as materials for use and to trade.

Native Peace Garden
Native Peace Garden

The Native Peace Garden is a woodland garden behind the Sautee Post Office. The focal point is a White Oak tree estimated to be 200 years old. A local family donated the land it sits on in atonement to the native peoples of the valleys. The garden features plants native to north Georgia. It is a place for quiet reflection and learning. Staying on pathways (people and pets!) is appreciated.

Old Schoolhouse Gardens
Old Schoolhouse Gardens

Surrounding the 1928 Nacoochee Primary and High School building, these gardens are "teaching" gardens planted by the Soque Garden Club. As an ongoing project, Club members donate their time, expertise, and knowledge for the upkeep of the gardens, creating a learning environment for both members and the general public. Feel free to stop and chat. Members are always happy to talk about plants.

Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail Garden

This pollinator garden is part of a state-wide network of gardens providing habitat for Monarch and other butterflies.

SNCA Bluebird Trail
Bluebird

In 2021, SNCA started a bluebird trail (of four nesting boxes) along the central campus path near the Native Peace Garden. These natural wood boxes are mounted on poles six feet high. Two of them feature a clear plastic partition inside a box door marked “View,” so chicks can be viewed in their nest without disruption. But, of all the songbirds in the area why help bluebirds?

One factor is that the Eastern Bluebird is native to the Sautee and Nacoochee Valleys. As with the cultivation of native plants in our Native Peace Garden, the Center strives to preserve and encourage the area's natural environment. Providing bluebird boxes is consistent with that mission.

Across the Eastern U.S. the bluebird population fell drastically during the 20th century as its habitat shrank and competition from aggressive invasive species, especially the English sparrow, rose for cavity nesting sites. However, man-made nesting boxes are helping the bluebird population recover nicely.

Also, bluebirds are with us all year: males begin checking out potential nesting sites in mid-February. This species may fledge two or three broods through mid-August. Then, as the weather turns colder males seek winter berries in small flocks, and crowd into nest boxes to roost.

Bluebird

Finally, the male wears a brilliant blue feather coat year-round, complemented by his bright orange vest. If these native avians nest in our present boxes the SNCA bluebird trail may lengthen, and - even in bleakest winter - streaks of brilliant blue will increase across our campus.