Thanks to Grayson Subaru of Knoxville, Ijams Nature Center has added 13.4 acres to its permanently protected lands.
The property, to be named the Grayson Subaru Preserve, will become a cutting-edge, nature free-play area for children as well as a site for citizen science and other Ijams environmental education programs.
“We have worked with Ijams on several events and projects in years past, said Randy Carter, Grayson Subaru sales manager. “Grayson has been waiting for the perfect project to come along to help Ijams in a big way, while giving Grayson a permanent presence at the center. We are excited that this new addition will offer generations of kids new outdoor educational opportunities, while bolstering Ijams footprint.”
Located just past the Mead’s Quarry entrance on the right side of Island Home Avenue between McClure Lane and Harold Lane. It features riparian wetlands along two creeks as well as upland habitat that includes a small cedar glade and secondary growth forest.
“This site has great potential and brings additional diversity to the Ijams landscape, and what we create will serve as a model for nature play areas across the country,” said Amber Parker, executive director of Ijams Nature Center. “Our goal is to have a space that allows parents to give their children a bit more freedom to roam, as many of us did when we were kids, but with the oversight and safety considerations required by modern parents.”
The Grayson Subaru Preserve will take shape over the next year. Parker said the staff plans to assess the needs for nonnative plant removal, stream restoration, trail planning and building this winter, host a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the late spring of 2018 and then continue to create the elements needed. Parker said there will be many volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups to help prepare the site.
Ijams staff will be able to use the Grayson Subaru Preserve for students in the center’s new nature preschool, which will open in summer 2018. Nature preschoolers spend 80% or more of their time outdoors, and the nature play opportunities at the Grayson Subaru Preserve will be perfect for these young learners.
Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs that focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking classes and art programs. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.