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Opinion: New artist, Elachee carry on Mark Trail creator’s legacy
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"Mark Trail," a popular environmental comic strip, is passing the torch to cartoonist Jules Rivera. Photo courtesy King Features Syndicate

It was a smart move to choose LA artist, Jules Rivera to be the new writer and artist for the popular comic series “Mark Trail.” She will do a good job of taking the series into the future while respecting the environmental message the comic always projected.

Creator Ed Dodd not only created a great comic strip but he also set the groundwork for the best environmental lab with the creation of Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville. 

When Dodd passed away in 1991 I wrote a letter to the Atlanta Constitution about how much I enjoyed the series and always appreciated the conservation message that was always ever present. A week later I received a note from Mr. Dodd’s wife, Rosemary, and she told me that she liked the letter. It was handwritten on a beautiful piece of parchment. The last thing she said in the letter is that I should come up to Gainesville and visit the Elachee Nature Science Center.

Since that time I got a job with the city of Gainesville and wound up being a day shift supervisor at the Lakeside Water Treatment Plant in Flowery Branch. The Elachee Nature Center set up tours for high school students to go to Lake Lanier and go for some hands-on environmental work testing the water and learning about water sources and how to protect them for future generations. Every year until I retired I used to look forward to these field trips visiting our water plant.  The Elachee workers were dedicated to their jobs and made sure the students learned something and had a good time while they were doing it. After they got their plant tours, which I enjoyed giving, they would go eat lunch over at a park next to the Flowery Branch Elementary School.

Rosemary Dodd and four other women were responsible for making the Elachee Nature Science Center what it is today. There are tours and hiking and biking trails throughout the 1440 acres of woods. I have visited it twice and was very impressed.  It is improving every year. There are volunteers who help clear the trails and make the entire parcel of land like nature undisturbed. There are also many programs throughout the year that feature birds of prey and people who show students and visitors the different type of reptiles and animals that are in Georgia. 

Jules Rivera’s first couple of Mark Trail comics have been great. They send a good positive message about our environment.

William McKee

Flowery Branch

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Jules Rivera, who is based in Los Angeles, recently took up the torch as the new cartoonist for the popular environmental comic strip "Mark Trail." Photo courtesy Eric Carroll

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