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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


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.

Map showing approximate area of appeal territory


The above map shows the approximate location of properties that are within 1,500 feet of the Cathey property. If your property is within a radius marked by the outer edges of the yellow lines, you may be eligible to file an appeal to any decision made by the Planning Commission regarding the proposed development on February 11. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed development of this property for February 11, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. in the Manuel Maloof Auditorium in Decatur.

Paper copies of the sketch plat are available in boxes next to the signs posted on the Cathey property.

Briarlake Area Residents Needed for Focus Group Meeting

Briarlake Area Residents Needed

Focus Group

“A Vision for the Briarlake Forest”

Light refreshments served

The Briarlake Community Forest Alliance is hosting its first set of focus groups to learn what this forest means to people in our community and how it contributes to our quality of life.  If you live in this area, we would like to invite you to participate in a small group discussion facilitated by one of our board members to help us understand the value of this forest in our community. The feedback from the groups will be used to develop a positive vision to present to possible funding sources that support conservation and environmental education.

TIME: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
DATE: Monday, January 12, 2015
PLACE: Tucker Recreation Center
4898 LaVista Road
Tucker, GA  30084

For more information or to RSVP, email