Outdoor Learning Center completes renovations

COLUMBIANA- The Outdoor Learning Center, a park and nature trail in Columbiana, recently completed several renovations through the efforts of the Shelby County Master Gardeners and other local and state organizations.

According to Shelby County Master Gardeners Project Facilitator Michele Hill, the park is described as a “secret hideaway for walking, picnicking, enjoying nature and outdoor learning.”

“It’s always been usable, but a lot of people don’t know about us,” Hill said.

A press release stated renovations began in September 2015, when representatives from Shelby County Master Gardeners began pressure washing the park’s amphitheater seats, bridge and picnic tables. Later that month Ricky Colquitt, of the Alabama Extension Center, eradicated the park’s overgrowth through an invasive species workshop.

Renovations halted until February 2016. The Alabama Master Gardeners Association awarded the Shelby County chapter a $1,000 grant, which they used to build a new entrance sign, create flowerbeds near the entrance, purchase new plants and purchase gardening equipment.

The Shelby County Master Gardeners also donated many plants, which they created beds for, planted, mulched and labeled.

Shelby County College and Career horticultural students used rocks to make an entry path to the nature trail, cleared debris and tended to plants.

Throughout the renovation process, staff from the Shelby County Facilities and General Services Division constantly maintained the park by mowing grass, keeping pathways clear, emptying and picking up trash, setting up the entrance sign and repairing footbridges.

Hill said the Work Release and Community Corrections program “provided the surge that led to final completion,” by removing fallen trees and large branches, pulling vines and clearing underbrush.

The Outdoor Learning Center is located on Kelly Lane off of Alabama 70. The park contains three acres of woodland, and a trail that spans about a quarter mile.

“All of this beauty is located within the city limits of Columbiana,” Hill said. “As we enjoy the lovely, cool days of spring, come introduce yourself to this hidden paradise.”