You have probably driven over the Middle Oconee River Bridge on Highway 11 and looked out over the wetlands visible from the road. They remain spacious, natural and unscathed by development. In fact, so natural and unaltered the area looks somewhat out of place. How this came to pass is an interesting story.
Decades ago, a group known as the Jeffco Boys, LLC, purchased the property from a family that had relocated to another state. The reason for obtaining the land was to establish a premier duck hunting preserve. Their objective was accomplished in spades.
An earthen levee containing five locks was built separating a large section of the wetlands from the river. The locks were installed to allow control of the water level in the wetlands throughout the year. With the exception of the levee and its locks, the vast majority of the remaining acreage has been left untouched.
Over time, the amount of hunting waned. In December 2004, the Jeffco Boys entered into a perpetual Conservation Easement with the Oconee River Land Trust for the purpose of assuring that the property "will be retained forever predominantly in its natural, scenic, wetland, forested and open space condition and to prevent any use of the Property that will significantly impair or interfere with the conservation values or interests of the Property."
Pursuant to this agreement, the locks were removed allowing water to flow freely between the wetlands and the Middle Oconee River. The earthen levee remains, allowing walking access between the river and the wetlands.
On January 1, 2017, the Jeffco Boys graciously donated ownership of the entire 189.55 acre tract to the Jefferson City Board of Education. This act of generosity allows the Jefferson City School System the opportunity to incorporate this incredible space into its PreK - 12 instructional program. Through the utilization of a retired school bus, a mobile instructional laboratory (BioBus) has been created for instructional purposes.
Attached are pictures of the wetlands, the BioBus and several student activities at the location.