Schoolyard Springs
Schoolyard Springs Schoolyard Springs © Paul Kingsbury/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Schoolyard Springs

Tennessee

Schoolyard Springs is a rare example of wetlands that once covered much of Shady Valley.

Thousands of years ago, the massive sheet of ice that once covered the North American continent receded, scouring and carving the earth as it gradually migrated to the northern latitudes. Shady Valley, with plants and animals that are characteristic of more northern climes, is a living legacy of the last Ice Age.

Within Shady Valley, Schoolyard Springs is a rare and unusual example of wetlands that used to cover much of the valley floor. The natural sandy springs provide habitat for many rare plants.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Beaverdam Creek frontage and an accompanying streamside area between two bogs makes this preserve an important part of restoring and conserving nature in Shady Valley. What makes Schoolyard Springs unusual is its sandy, seemingly bottomless upwelling of fresh water from the bubbling springs.

Before channelization, Beaverdam Creek snaked along the valley floor, leaving seasonally wet areas in its path. Schoolyard Springs is believed to be a remnant of an earlier creek meander and a relic of forested pools that once dotted the valley floor.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing 

In October 1998, TNC acquired 9-acre Schoolyard Springs, one of the organization's most unique properties. Completed in 2002, the boardwalk, which is elevated above the wetland, is a wonderful tool used to educate the public about this special preserve. In 2007, the Conservancy purchased 13 more acres to increase the preserve's stream frontage. The Conservancy acquired 7 additional acres in 2018, making the property 29 acres in total.

Prepare For Your Visit

A beautiful boardwalk allows you to view the wetland springs without getting your feet wet. In addition to the boardwalk, there are mowed paths winding along the creek. If you plan to walk these, wear shoes made for wet or muddy ground. Long pants and sleeves, hiking boots, hat and drinking water are also recommended. During warm weather light color and light-weight clothing is suggested.

Binoculars and field guides to plants and birds are worth bringing, as the wetlands attract many unusual bird species, plants and wildflowers. To protect this wetland area, please stay on the boardwalk and mowed walking trails that wind around to Beaverdam Creek. Dogs are allowed on leash. 

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