Author Archives: Laurie Marion

A vulnerable species in the Briarlake Forest

IMG_1755Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina

The Eastern Box Turtle is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because of declining populations. Many states have laws protecting this species from exploitation; in Georgia it is illegal to keep a box turtle as a pet.

Box turtles can live over 100 years. Here is a quote about Box Turtles from an article on that should give you an idea of why Box Turtles are protected:

Every adult box turtle is vital to its population’s future.

In the fragmented habitats that are typical of the eastern United States box turtle populations are so sensitive to losing adults that, in modeling studies performed by Dr. Richard Seigel of Towson University, a loss of only three adult box turtles from a population of 50 males and 50 females could put the population on a slow, and irreversible, decline to extinction.

Most box turtles never survive to reach breeding age (8 + years): Foxes, raccoons, skunks, crows, opossums, turkeys, domestic cats and dogs, and other animals eat turtle eggs and young turtles with shells not yet hard enough to provide good protection. Any turtles that do survive have to contend with roads and also with development which causes a loss of habitat, which also brings more roads, more dogs and cats, and more people who like to take turtles from the wild, hoping that they can make pets of them. Every one of the years (50 – 100) that a wild female box turtle can live is critical to ensuring that, of the three to five eggs she lays a year, at least one of her young will become an adult to replace her in that population.

Box Turtles spend their whole life in a 2 to 4 acre range. They have an instinctive homing ability; if removed from their home, they will go back to it. They need sunlight and the moist forest floor to thrive.

So if you see a Box Turtle in the forest, leave it alone! But feel free to take a photograph and share it here or with the Friends of Briarlake Forest.

Streams in the Forest

(By Laurie Marion)

Today presented an opportunity to see the intermittent streams located in the Briarlake Forest. Focusing only on the 15-acre parcel, I found four intermittent streams. The largest one runs behind the properties on Blackwood Road. The streambed along the back of these properties shows some erosion due to waters running fairly swiftly during storms. Here is a video documenting the stream that parallels Blackwood Road:

The second intermittent stream I found is also fairly large, and runs from somewhere above the large dead tree that is lying at the top of the bulldozer path that bisects the property north to south, along the center of the property to a culvert that runs beneath Amberwood Drive to the northern section of the forest. Again, I found areas where the streambed has eroded from the swiftly flowing water.

The third intermittent stream I found runs from the center of the forest towards Castleway Lane and flows into a culvert that crosses beneath Amberwood Drive at the intersection with Castleway Lane and continues beneath a property on Castleway Lane. Until recently a sinkhole was apparent on the property. DeKalb County workers have filled in the sinkhole with dirt and covered it with new sod, but water still collects in the area.

The fourth intermittent stream I found also runs towards Castleway Lane. This one starts from the bulldozer path that parallels Blackwood Road and runs through the forest towards the first house to the east of the forest on Castleway Lane, and ends in an English ivy patch, where it cascades into the gutter on Castleway Lane.

Community Visioning Meeting October 8 at 6:30 p.m.

The DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs will hold a Park Visioning meeting at the Tucker Recreation Center, 4998 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084, on Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. This is the first of a series of meetings that will be held to gather ideas from the community so that the Department can create a master plan for our new public greenspace. This process is supported by the Friends of Briarlake Forest, a newly formed volunteer group dedicated to maintaining the 21-acre urban forest. For more information or directions, the telephone number for the Tucker Recreation Center is (770) 270-6226.

A Community Dream Realized

Today was the first workday of the Friends of Briarlake Forest.  There was a great turnout and a lot of good work was done by neighbors and Troop 77 BSA.  Ivy was cut from many trees, kudzu vines were removed, dense areas of underbrush next to the sidewalk on Briarlake Road were cleared of debris, and a compost heap was started.  Many people have dreamed of the community coming together and caring for the land together.  Now that dream has become a reality.

Many thanks to Margo Reynolds for organizing the workday and for staying two extra hours to move debris to the curb in front of the house!

Beth Ingram and Margo Reynolds

Beth Ingram and Margo Reynolds

Scouts from Troop 77 BSA

Scouts from Troop 77 BSA

A good turnout

A good turnout

Ivy removed from trees

Ivy removed from trees

Debris at curb

Debris at curb


It’s Official! Briarlake Forest is Public Greenspace

We have received official word from the DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs that the purchase of the Cathey property (all 21 acres) has closed.

The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs has reached out to BCFA to assist with the formation of a “Friends of the Park” group to help the department with planning, improvements and maintenance of the park. One of the first items mentioned by the department as a priority is naming the park.

We look forward to the process of discovering the thoughts and feelings of people in this community to help guide the department as it plans a public amenity we can all enjoy.

A brief meeting is planned this Saturday, July 25, at 9:30 a.m. for people interested in forming a Friends of the Park group. We will meet for coffee at the Panera Bread Company, 2100 Henderson Mill Road, near the Publix grocery store. The purpose of this meeting is to start an email list, fill out the application to send to ParkPride, and provide orientation materials to people interested in participating in Friends of the Park. An organizational meeting for the group will be held some time in August.

RSVP for this Saturday’s meeting by filling out the contact form.

Dekalb County Commission Votes to Purchase the Briarlake Forest


On Friday the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a proposal number H8 for “Purchase of property, real estate acquisition number 05-18-10.2, at 3330, 2880, and 2969 Briarlake Road for the appraised value of $9,847,000 Districts 2 and 7.”

The regular Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, February 24, was re-convened on Friday, February 27, to address certain items including the 2015 Budget. Commissioner Jeff Rader moved to add an item to the agenda, namely item number H8 for the purchase of the property. The motion was seconded, and the board voted in favor of adding the item.

Commissioner Sharon Barnes of District 4 asked for clarification of some details of the purchase, including procedural requirements that could be addressed by the Legal Department. A motion was made to address Commissioner Barnes’s questions in an Executive Session, the motion was seconded and carried, and the Commissioners recessed for a closed Executive Session to address her concerns.

The Commissioners returned from the Executive Session, a motion was made to come out of Executive Session, seconded and carried.

Item H8 having already been moved and seconded, the Board of Commissioners then voted and the motion carried 6-0 with no abstentions.

A video recording of the meeting can be viewed on the DCTV website.

A resident of the Briarlake Forest


This photo was submitted by Briarlake neighbor Stephanie Babbitt, who writes:

Red-shouldered hawks mate monogamously and remain in the same nesting area for their adult lives. Their territory tends to range around one to one-and-a-half square miles. They typically return to the same nesting site for several years in a row, and mating season will begin for them in a few weeks. The upshot of all this: the bird in the picture isn’t just passing through; he or she lives here along with a mate, and the area under consideration for development is part of his/her territory and nesting ground.

Red-shouldered hawks are a protected species in the city of Atlanta. Perhaps DeKalb County will someday offer the same sort of protection to avian residents of its urban forest.