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Letter to the editor
Great beauty exists right here at home
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Forsyth County News
I have grown to love almost everything from the creative filmmaker Ken Burns. His series on America’s National Parks, which recently ended its first run on PBS, is no exception. The series made heroes of pioneers such as John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and an early advocate of the idea of setting aside land that is special for all to enjoy.

These shows made me think about a local area that is also beloved by many of us, albeit on a much smaller scale than Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Forsyth County’s Sawnee Mountain Preserve includes more than 963 acres and currently consists of 3.5 miles of public hiking trails on the east ridge of the mountain. A visitor center/exhibit hall was added last year, and plans call for trail connections to eventually reach the mountain summit.

I have a very personal connection with the preserve — I don’t think I will ever forget the day my daughter and I first made it up the trails and took a look around from the top of the ridge. We had reached a formation at the very highest point called Indian Seats. This area gets its name from rocks that made good seating for our Native American predecessors.

Looking north, we could take in a sweeping view of the north Georgia mountains. This was a crystal clear fall day, and 11-year-old Maddi took one look at the majestic view and cried out, “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

Now, my daughter and I are truly deserving of the title “tenderfoot.” We don’t own hiking boots and we’ve never even remotely considered the Appalachian Trail — but this mountain ridge was set aside for us, and is a perfect place for a dad and daughter to enjoy a bit of the outdoors.

I am very grateful to SPLOST, the Green Space funding, and the land donors and county leadership that made this recreation area possible. It makes us think that we can have something in common with John Muir without ever leaving Forsyth County.

Mark Owens