Georgia DNR Acquires Tract of Land
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently worked with AmSouth Timber Fund, LLC and Resource Management Service, LLC to acquire approximately 884 acres in Taylor County slated to become a state Natural Area. This property was formerly owned by AmSouth Timber Fund, LLC and was purchased by DNR for an estimated price of $1,326,000.
The DNR received approval to purchase the property from the Georgia Land Conservation Council and the State Properties Commission. The Nongame Conservation Section of the DNR Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) will manage the property as a state Natural Area.
"We are fortunate that AmSouth officials understood the biological significance of this tract and worked hard to strike a deal that will benefit the state," said Dan Forster, WRD Director. "Under AmSouth's care, this sandhill habitat has remained in good condition."
The Taylor County tract features small, wet-weather ponds imbedded within deep, sandy soil uplands, and provides important habitat for a number of state and globally imperiled plant and animal species. Wildlife species in the area include the state-threatened gopher tortoise, the rare striped newt, Bachman's sparrow and the gopher frog. Imperiled plants include the state and federally endangered pondberry, the state threatened sandhill golden-aster and the lax water-milfoil.
"This transaction demonstrates AmSouth Timber Fund's commitment to wise, responsible land stewardship," said Frank Walburn, manager of the Amsouth Timber Fund, LLC. "We are pleased to work with the state of Georgia to allow for public use of this important wildlife habitat area."
Acquisition of this site will allow WRD biologists to restore and manage the upland and wetland habitats essential for these species, including the use of management practices such as prescribed burning to protect the land from the encroachment of invasive woody plants.
The tract may also be used as a recipient site for translocated gopher tortoises displaced by land conversion elsewhere. While gopher tortoises already exist on the site, their numbers are far below the carrying capacity and the tract could certainly support many more individuals. Protecting this site and increasing the gopher tortoise population may help prevent the need to add this animal to the federal list of protected species. Additionally, gopher frog eggs collected here may be used to restore this rare amphibian to suitable wetlands on other protected sites in the state, assisting in conservation efforts to increase their numbers and prevent the need for federal listing as well.
Hunting and other recreational use will also be permitted on the tract. For more information on the acquisition of this property and the species it will benefit, contact the WRD Nongame Conservation Section at (770) 761-3035.