Rome’s landmark Marshall Forest will become a part of the Old Growth Forest Network later this month.
The dedication will move forward in spite of some reservations on the part of the Nature Conservancy about signing a memorandum of agreement with the OGFN related to cutting of the forest.
“We make sure that the forests in the network are all protected from logging because we want people to be able to build relationships with these forests through the generations,” said Joan Maloof, executive director of the Old Growth Network based in Easton, Maryland.
Malcolm Hodges with the Nature Conservancy said the organization was reluctant to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Old Growth Network stipulating that it was never going to cut the forest.
“If they want to put it in their list of places that’s fine with us because it is old growth, at least a portion of it is,” Hodges said.
In general terms, the Conservancy supports the work the OGFN is doing and has partnered with them in other locations.
“People in our upper departments just didn’t feel comfortable signing the agreement,” Hodges said.
However, in the absence of paperwork, some Maloof said they went to the library in Rome where there is a section about the Marshall Forest and did some research.
“They found a lot of the documentation about the history of the forest and the intention of the original owner, from all the paperwork I’ve seen and I’m convinced that forest is preserved and never going to be cut,” Maloof said.
The dedication ceremony is set for October 19 at 2 p.m. There will be a walk along some of the trails in the forest, off Horseleg Creek Road.
Marshall Forest includes more than 300-acres which was controlled by the Marshall family. Mclean Marshall had the forest dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 1966 and ten years later arranged to have the property protected in perpetuity by the Nature Conservancy.
The forest is home to the largest known population of endangered large-flowered skullcaps in Georgia.
Robert Weed, a cousin of Marshall, was a steward of the acreage for many years until his death in October of 2014. Each year since then, his family has organized a memorial walk through the forest to continue to draw attention to the uniqueness of the forest.
This year’s walk will be held in conjunction with the dedication of the forest as part of the Old Growth Forest Network.