In the late 1970s, a group of forward thinkers hatched an ambitious plan to bring Chattanooga citizens closer to nature. With the help of the Junior League of Chattanooga, the group raised more than $500,000, and in September 1979, The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center was born. Since then, the center has invited more than half a million visitors to explore its 317 acres of forests, fields, and streams as well as raising consciousness with educational programs targeted at schoolchildren, summer campers, and scouts. Their efforts have helped to conserve the approximately 50 native animal species inhabiting the park, including bald eagles and endangered red wolves.
State-of-the-art when it was built, the environmentally engineered main building has remained largely unchanged over the past 33 years. Features such as solar-heating systems, southern-facing windows, and 99% natural R-38 insulation continue to model sustainable-building practices to park visitors and squirrels looking to passively heat their nests.