The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, in Mansfield, Georgia, is a beautiful nature preserve with the namesake of a man who dedicated his life to the conservation of the natural world and wildlife. Created in 1993, the nature preserve has a rich history and an abundance of amenities for all ages of outdoor enthusiasts and those interested in ecotourism.
The History of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
When you get to know Charles Newton Elliott (1906-2000), an influential naturalist who grew up in the area and who the center is named after, you learn about the history and natural environment at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Stop at the free museum to interact with wildlife exhibits and find information about Charlie. He personally donated a collection of books, photographs and other hunting and fishing memorabilia that shares his life experience.
You’ll learn about Elliott’s contributions to the state when he served as the first Director of Georgia State Parks from 1937 to 1938, Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources from 1938 to 1941, and then Director of Game and Fish Commission (now known as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division) from 1943 to 1949.
Elliott was a long-time writer of many books and wrote thousands of magazine articles for Outdoor Life magazine. He was the Southeastern Field Editor for Outdoor Life magazine from 1950 until his passing in 2000. At the museum, you will see a replica of his den where he wrote the last two books in his life.
Elliott was a reputed speaker, freelance writer, and instructor for shooting, hunting, and fishing clinics. He won six awards including Conservationist of the Year from the Georgia Wildlife Federation in 1993. His mark helped establish many of today’s state programs to conserve wildlife.
While visiting the museum, you can increase your awareness about conservation at the wildlife center by interacting with the wildlife exhibits. You can get a close-up look at wildlife when you visit the viewing alcove that overlooks a pond and native plant garden. See if you can find and identify birds through the binoculars. Children can also pick up a Junior Ranger book, a program started in Georgia by Elliott.
Recreational Amenities at The Nature Preserve
With 6,400 acres of forest, lakes, and fields, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is a place where you can find peace and solitude while enjoying many recreational amenities. Managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the nature preserve has forests, lakes, and fields. The center consists of Marben Public Fishing Area, Clybel Wildlife Management Area, Preaching Rock Wildlife Education Center and a conference center. With amenities such as fishing, boating, hunting, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, camping and more, it offers some of the best ecotourism in Georgia.
With 22 ponds, there’s a quiet spot waiting for you to fish for Bluegill, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish and Redear Sunfish. Choose to launch your small boat or canoe to fish on lakes that range in size from 1-acre to 96 acres, or if you prefer to fish from the shore, follow along fishing trails that Charlie Elliott himself once walked on.
For bird watchers, the nature preserve is a paradise and important birding area for year-round residents or migrating birds. You might also see deer and small animals when you take a relaxing hike along one of the serene trails through the woods and along the water. Be careful during hunting season. The nature preserve is also a popular destination for hunting deer, turkey and other small game animals.
Educational Programs that Increase Environmental Stewardship
In addition to the recreational opportunities, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center offers a comprehensive wildlife education program. Through these programs, the center strives to instruct visitors of all ages about wildlife, natural resources, and the outdoors to help them become better stewards of the environment.