Conservation

*Please note that we are a 501(c)(3) and any monies donated are completely tax deductible.  Please help us preserve the Beautiful Snake Creek Gorge and Banning Mills Township!

Historic Banning Mills is a public 501(c)(3) conservation and retreat center. About 45 minutes NW from Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the facility is located in one of the most unique eco-environments in Georgia. If you would like to donate to the Conservancy at Historic Banning Mills, please click donation button.  All donations made to Historic Banning Mills are tax deductible.

Mission:

To preserve the unique and pristine ecosystems of the Snake Creek Gorge and Chattahoochee watershed areas as well as the extensive history of the Banning Mills township and gorge areas.

To promote leadership and character development with experiential adventure-based programs as well as increase community awareness of this special area through educational programs and publications.

Since 2001, the following goals below were created and completed

Our staff is passionate and dedicated to our mission goals. We have had many completed and successful program creations and implementations. We look forward to successful future goals as well.

  • Worked with Trust for Public lands and Chattahoochee River Keepers in preserving in perpetuity 1500 acres of the Snake Creek Gorge which is one of the main tributaries of the Chattahoochee River
  • Implemented extensive historical research of the Banning Mills Township and Snake Creek Gorge with resulting production of History DVD and History book of the area.
  • Acquired a master’s thesis that focused on the unique ecosystem of the Snake Creek Gorge.
  • Constructed and Implemented 3 onsite teambuilding courses to aid in leadership and character development
  • Constructed the largest aerial adventure park in the world to implement experiential adventure programs
  • Provide yearly summer day camps for children 8 to 14 years of age
  • Provide educational bird of prey shows in our nature theater.
  • Developed a small history interpretive museum
  • Have acquired a permanent, on-site bald eagle which lives on site at the center in an FWS approved eagle enclosure.

Our Future Goals at Historic Banning Mills

We look forward to expanding and developing more of our conservation projects for future generations to enjoy.

  • To build a Historical and Natural History Museum on site
  • To seek a national historic district designation for the Banning Mills township area
  • To build a Creek Indian village: An Exact Replication.
  • To increase educational opportunities with our Bird of Prey programs.
  • To increase our leadership and character development programs
  • To increase visitor awareness of the extensive history of the area
  • To construct an eco tree walk bridge system for visitors to enjoy nature.

Please note that we are a 501(c)(3) and any monies donated are completely tax deductible.  Please help us preserve the Beautiful Snake Creek Gorge and Banning Mills Township!

Meet Conservationist and Master Falconer Dale Arrowood and his Winged Ambassadors!

Dale started working with raptors in the late 60’s as a young boy grouping up on the family’s farm in Palmetto, Ga. He became interested while watching Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” on Sunday afternoons with Jim Fowler and Marlin Perkins.

When he began to work with and learn about these beautiful creatures, he developed an interest in the ancient art and sport of falconry.

Dale continued to work and hunt with his birds of prey while serving in law enforcement. After 27 years in law enforcement, Dale was forced to retire due to a cervical spine injury. However, his injury did not stop his work with raptors.

Soon after retiring, a job opportunity to work at Callaway Gardens presented itself to Dale. Dale trained their birds of prey as well as opened their raptor programs. He was able to stay and lecture for four years.

Dale had the fortune to work with Jim Fowler, Okeefenokee Joe and others who later aided him in fulfilling his dream of establishing an educational show called “Winged Ambassadors.”

Over the years, Dale has trained and flown several species of falcons, hawks, owls, vultures, and eagles. His show ranges from pure falconry purposes to education, and even lecture opportunities throughout the southeast.

During his leisure time, Dale spends time in the fields with his raptor companions, spending his day looking into the skies as the bonds with his birds of prey are renewed.

Dale brings extensive knowledge into his programs and receives support from both Auburn University and his life-long hero and close friend, Jim Fowler.

Come visit Dale and his Winged Ambassadors in our outside theater and experience our Birds of Prey Show.

Meet Our Newest Winged Staff Member, “Liberty”

Liberty is the newest member of our staff here at Historic Banning Mills. She is a beautiful four-year-old Bald Eagle named Liberty. She came from Auburn University at the Southeastern Raptor Center located in Alabama. Since Liberty is an imprinted raptor with visual deficits and some hip difficulties, she can never be released back into the wild. If she were released, she would die. Historic Banning Mills is honored to be able to care for Liberty and showcase her in our educational bird of prey shows with Master Falconer, Dale Arrowwood. We hope our patrons will be able to come and see Liberty as well as learn amazing facts on our national emblem.

Ecology of Banning Mills

The property around Historic Banning Mills is sprawling with wildlife and virtually untouched natural forest. During a hike around our property, you can find an almost limitless number of species to observe in their natural environment! Check back for new additions to the ecology around Banning Mills and follow us on social media for updates on our unique findings!

Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar

Hickory horned devil caterpillars look fierce and can be almost as big as a hot dog, but they’re harmless. They have green bodies (that become turquoise as they age) and lots of prickled, orangey horn-like structures on their heads. They’re so big and fierce-looking that even chickens — which usually love to eat caterpillars — have been known to stay away from them.

HHDs eat leaves, chiefly those from hickory-type trees, such as walnuts, pecans, buttonbush, filbert, ash, and others. They also like persimmon leaves.

HHDs live in the deciduous forest areas of the eastern U.S. In earlier years you could find them as far north as Massachusetts, but now they only get as far as New Jersey. They’re more common down south — as far west as eastern Texas and as far east as central Florida.

They hatch from eggs in about a week, and then the larvae (the HHDs) live about five weeks -– usually from late July to the middle of August. They are then known as the Regal Moth.

They eat leaves, storing up energy for their pupation and final transformation. They eat a huge meal right before they start looking for soft earth to burrow into for pupation, when they live in dark brown cocoons.

It’s their last meal ever, because as moths, they don’t eat. They don’t even have mouths that can absorb nutrients. Also, pupation could last one season or even two, depending on when the pupa senses conditions are ripe for its emergence.

The HHD is the larva of the regal moth, which is the biggest moth found north of Mexico. It has gray-green and orange wings about four to six inches wide. It lives only about a week, and in that time this beautiful moth works as hard as it can to mate and reproduce, before it eventually dies of exhaustion.

Luna Moth

We spotted this beautiful moth right down the road from us this July! The Luna Moth is a Nearctic Moth which is in the Saturniidae family more commonly known as Giant Silk Moths.

The Luna Moth can reach a wingspan of 7 inches or larger but most commonly is found with a wingspan around 4.5 inches. The Luna Moth, like the Regal Moth does not have a mouth and cannot feed, but instead feeds off stored fat reserves left over from it’s caterpillar stage.

These moths lay between 200-400 eggs in one location or split into smaller groups and takes several days to finish laying them all. The Luna Moth can be found along the east coast from Florida to Maine and even into Canada!