• Beth Kilgo

Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve: History

This is part two in a series of six articles about the Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve in Whigham, Ga. In this article, I discuss the history of the preserve.

All photos in this article were taken by the author.

This is one of the many plants you can see when you first enter the Preserve.

These flowers are South Carolina Jasmine.

The population of the trout lilies was recognized in the 1990’s and saved in 2009 with the work and contribution of individuals and several societies: the Florida Native Plant Society, Georgia Native Plant Society, and the Georgia Botanical Society.

Originally the land was bought by the Flint River Timber Company to select harvest, which is the practice of harvesting trees in a way that moves a forest to an uneven-aged or all-aged condition and is destructive to remaining habitats. The timber company intended to sell the land for a housing development; the company agreed to wait a year before putting the property on the market. Some of the logging roads originally made by the Timber Company are now used as hiking trails.

Many state and national groups either did not believe the property was large enough for their involvement, or they did not have enough funds to purchase the property. The entire 140 acres are now owned by Grady County, saved through the Georgia Land Conservation Grant Program, and partially managed by the Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Natural Plant Society.

The grant was approved in Dec 2007, and by the end of the 2009 “bloom,” all but $45,000 had been collected. The opportunity for the grant would expire that summer. The last amount was donated by a local donor that wished to remain anonymous. This location is known to be the largest concentration of trout lilies anywhere in the world and is considered the “jewel of Grady County.”

The grant requirements were completed, and with all the money raised, the land was saved. Today, many people can enjoy viewing the blooms of the trout lilies on the slopes of the Preserve. Without Dan Miller’s persistence, who was the founder of Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve and owner of Trillium Gardens in Tallahassee, the irreplaceable treasure would have been lost to the real estate boom.