COVID-19 Response

March 20th, 2020

Dear Supporters,

Thank you for your encouragement during this difficult time and for your enthusiasm for our digital initiatives in lieu of scheduled in-person programming. Unfortunately, we have to announce that in compliance with the CDC guidelines and in an attempt to "flatten the curve," we are closing the property to the public including members, effective immediately.

Our ultimate priority is health and well-being (physical and mental) for our patrons and our environment. We all need to get outside and reconnect with nature, now more than ever, but we must do it safely. 

Although we're closed, our work doesn't stop. We are continuing to care for the animals and plants on our property. We're observing social distancing protocols, staggering staff that is unable to work from home, and re-cleaning constantly. Even in a quarantine situation, we'll need staff to be on site and are making plans to help monitor animals, water plants, and keep the property itself secure.

We ask for your support in keeping our staff safe—please do not enter the property. Please subscribe to our social media platforms (links below) for activities you can do at home in your own neighborhood because we understand just how important being outside is to all of us.

We're also launching a native plant delivery service, taking the place of our Spring Plant Sale. We will be coordinating with supporters like you to drop plants off outside your home. 

Visit for our inventory and instructions. We look forward to helping you restore your own corner of the planet.

Stay well! 

Mark McKnight

P.S. - The photo above was the first butterfly I've spotted this year. I was so excited to see it that I nearly dropped the phone while talking with a board member about how to write this letter.

Simple moments like this one remind us that spring will come regardless of the economic, social and health challenges we face together today. I know this closure is an inconvenience and a disappointment to all. Let's watch out for each other, stay healthy, and we'll get back to enjoying our beautiful landscape together soon.

Thank you for supporting our work to reconnect Chattanoogans to nature. There are so many ways for you to get involved. Here are just a few options:


Posted by Mark McKnight


You might have noticed that it’s been raining just a bit over the last couple of weeks.  Spring has come early this year and it’s that season where we watch the water rise as Lookout Creek swells. If you stop by, you’ll see that the treehouse is not accessible right now, and some of our trails have temporarily become one with Lookout Creek. Most years, we deal with flooding - it’s a natural and welcome part of our landscape. And don’t worry, our Animal Ambassadors are always relocated long before the water gets high.

One of the things that makes Reflection Riding so unique is that it houses a variety of landscapes — including swampy areas. The floodplain under the boardwalk is a naturally occurring environment and is integral to many amphibians, fish, and birds as a nursery, source of food, and home; it’s also nature’s sponge. Floodplains and swamps purify water by absorbing waste and runoff into the soil and roots of plants, and what the plants do not use gradually collects at the bottom of the swamp as sediment. They also absorb excess water as levels begin to rise, limiting the damaging effects of flooding

So while flooding is a natural occurrence that we consider a seasonal norm here, it is also important to note that floods become much more damaging once wetlands, our natural barriers, are removed. Wetlands are one of the most biodiverse places on earth! We are proud to protect them. In our upcoming Master Planning process, we will consider the entire property, including the floodplain and placement of structures, to respect the importance of this area (and not have a treehouse half-full of water). 

We hope you’ll continue to support our work protecting wetlands, and much more as we reconnect Chattanoogans to nature. There are so many ways to get involved - you can donatebecome a membervolunteer, even remember Reflection Riding in your estate plans. You might even head out this weekend to see the flooding -  it’s pretty amazing. If you can’t make it out, or even if you can, check out these drone pictures from one of our supporters, Jeff Guenther. There’s nothing as amazing as seeing Mother Nature at work. 


Mark McKnight



PS - Check out this cool article about swamps from Nat Geo, too:

Posted by Mark McKnight

Friday night we have a fun paddling trip and then several events making a full fall day on Saturday. Come see us! Be sure to check details and RSVP on Eventbrite so we know you're coming. Several of these events have capacity limits.

Spooky Canoe Trip


October 25

Join us for a spooky evening of moonlight canoeing and learning about nocturnal animals.

learn more

Feed the Endangered Red Wolves


October 26

Join one of our wildlife care experts for a question and answer session on the red wolf and then help take part in feeding the wolves.

learn more

Autumn Upcycling Crafts: How to Upcycle Glass


October 26

Tips on glass upcycling!

learn more

Intro to Zero Waste Workshop


October 26

Learn how to reduce your waste, live more sustainably and take care of the Earth with Zero Waste Chattanooga!

learn more

Posted by Mark McKnight

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