The Nature Conservancy helps safeguard land along Altamaha River
Mon, Oct 25 2010 at 11:00 AM
By The Nature Conservancy
Atlanta, GA — September 29, 2010— Governor Sonny Perdue announced today the acquisition of 6,911 acres in Long County as part of the Townsend Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The property is located in the lower Altamaha River floodplain, one of the most valuable ecological corridors in Georgia. It was purchased by The Nature Conservancy from Rayonier Forest Resources and immediately transferred to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which will own and manage the tract. The newly-acquired parcel stretches for 10 miles adjacent to the Altamaha River. It contains a variety of critical wildlife habitats, buffers an important military installation and will contain recreational amenities for hiking, boating and hunting.
"Permanently preserving tracts of land of this significance is integral to creating a culture of conservation in Georgia," said Governor Perdue.
"And this is an excellent example of the state partnering with the private sector, conservation community and the federal government to make that happen."
Federal, state and private-sector partners that contributed financial and other support to the project include the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rayonier Forest Resources, The Nature Conservancy and Georgia Land Conservation Program (GLCP).
"The Nature Conservancy has had a vision for decades to protect a corridor along the Altamaha River," said Shelly Lakly, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia. "To date, we have helped safeguard close to 100,000 acres toward this goal and invested millions of private dollars. We were pleased to play an essential role in helping add these acres to the total."
Preservation of the tract, which includes freshwater wetlands, inland maritime forests and sandhill-longleaf pine forests, protects habitat for at least 17 federal or state-listed rare and endangered species including the swallow-tailed kite, Florida manatee, gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake. This property is the second of a two-phase project that protected more than 14,000 acres on the Lower Altamaha River.
"Conservation has long been a part of Rayonier's 80-year history and we've now partnered to conserve more than 14,000 acres along the Altamaha River," said Lee Thomas, chairman and CEO of Rayonier. "The Altamaha is in the geographic core of our ownership so we're especially pleased to be able to participate in this partnership to conserve special places in this region."
In addition to its environmental value, the property also will provide a much-needed buffer around the Townsend Bombing Range - a facility owned by the United States Marine Corps and used by all branches of the military. The Marine Corps played a key role in the project, providing crucial funding and support to protect the tract.
"It is critical to national security to buffer the Townsend Bombing Range and to keep it operational," according to Major General Carl Jensen, commanding general for Marine Corps Installations East.
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(Photo © Kathryn Kolb)