Maintaining habitat for a sparrow species in decline. Protecting the site of an endangered plant species. Conducting controlled burns to restore fire-dependent ecosystems.
These are only some of the conservation accomplishments of corporate landowners in the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Forestry for Wildlife Partnership. The projects were among the highlights as the program’s three partners – Georgia Power, Plum Creek and Wells Timberland – met recently with Wildlife Resources Division staff at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.
Started in 1996, Forestry for Wildlife Partnership promotes blending wildlife conservation into corporate forestry practices. Habitat is key to wildlife. And with 93 percent of Georgia’s forestland privately owned, conservation on private lands is critical in the state.
Wells Timberland, Plum Creek and Georgia Power were honored as partners in February, having helped improve nearly 974,000 acres for wildlife. Practices involving wildlife management, sensitive sites, education and outreach, wildlife-related recreation, and conservation partnerships are assessed.
Mark Whitney, chief of the Wildlife Resources Division’s Game Management Section, applauded the partners and said Forestry for Wildlife Partnership “serves as a great example of how you can manage property for multiple objectives; in this case, for timber production and wildlife conservation.”
The May 22 meeting, sponsored by The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, covered topics varying from pine savanna and the Bobwhite Quail Initiative to Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, a statewide strategy for wildlife conservation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives explained potential agreements aimed at managing rare species on private lands. A separate discussion focused on how partners could work with the DNR to conserve gopher tortoises, a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The work that partners are already doing also drew attention. Some examples:
- Plum Creek is maintaining habitat at Paulk’s Pasture Wildlife Management Area near Brunswick for Henslow’s sparrows, a secretive songbird. With 10,000 acres in central Georgia, the company has also teamed with the DNR and University of Georgia to study the region’s bear population.
- Georgia Power is helping the DNR relocate gopher tortoises displaced by development, including restoring 300 acres of longleaf pine as a future site. Staff is also working with the state to place nest boxes critical for kestrels on transmission towers near Butler, Tifton and Douglas.
- Wells Timberland has protected habitat for rare fringed campion in Talbot County; thinned pine plantations to allow native understory plants to grow, benefitting wildlife; and joined with the National Wild Turkey Federation in restoring longleaf pine in sandhill habitats in Marion County.
For information about Forestry for Wildlife Partnership, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/FWP.
Support wildlife conservation in Georgia by renewing or buying a bobwhite quail, bald eagle or hummingbird license plate. These plates support, respectively, DNR’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative and conservation of Georgia’s rare and other nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. The Bobwhite Quail Initiative and DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section do not receive state appropriations. Details at www.georgiawildlife.com/Conservation/Support.
Learn more about TERN, which supports wildlife conservation through the Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section, at http://tern.homestead.com.