The Land Trust is excited to announce that the trails at the Lombard Mill Pond Preserve are about to get a whole lot bigger. This 55-acre greenspace, located in South Augusta, was once home to possibly the last remaining gristmill in Richmond County, grinding corn up until the 1960s. In 2004, the Land Trust permanently protected the Pond’s historical and natural resources, in partnership with Augusta-Richmond County. Today, it is home to wetland forests, migratory birds, and a small walking trail for the public to enjoy.
This initial walking trail was developed by the Land Trust in 2010, thanks to a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Trails Grant (RTP) program. The trail leads visitors through the mature hardwood forest surrounding the pond, showcasing the Pond’s history as it passes the ruins of the old gristmill, water wheel, and levee. It includes a scenic overlook area where visitors can bird watch or fish, as well as a gravel parking area.
This coming year, thanks to a generous grant from Augusta-Richmond County’s Special Local Option Sales Tax (better known as the SPLOST), this trail and its amenities will soon double in size. The SPLOST, originally created by Georgia legislators in 1985, authorizes a county such as Augusta-Richmond to voluntarily increase its local sales tax by 1% in order to fund projects intended to benefit the county as a whole. Voters in Augusta, the “Garden City”, consistently place a high importance on walking trails and greenspaces, and as such approved the enhancement projects at Lombard Mill Pond.
Thanks to these local voters, beginning in 2017, the Land Trust will extend the existing trail, add interpretive signage, and build a massive 300-foot bridge and boardwalk spanning the creek and pond area to replace the historic bridge lost in the 1990 flood. Longer-term plans include completing the 2.5 mile loop around the Pond and connecting this beautiful greenspace to hundreds more acres preserved by the Land Trust along Butler Creek, establishing a 12-mile-long South Augusta Greenway which will stretch from Fort Gordon to Phinizy Swamp and Lock and Dam Park. Even longer-term, this greenway will then connect to a larger Regional Greenway Trail System linking the Augusta Canal, Downtown, South Augusta, North Augusta, Martinez, Evans, and Grovetown. Stay tuned for more details!