Gov. Deal Honors Three Companies as Forestry for Wildlife Partners

Gov. Nathan Deal recognized three corporate forest landowners Thursday for their stewardship in land management and practices benefiting Georgia’s wildlife.

Plum Creek, Georgia Power and CatchMark Timber Trust were honored by Gov. Deal as 2013 partners in Forestry for Wildlife Partnership, a program administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

Forestry for Wildlife Partnership is a voluntary program that promotes sustainable forest and wildlife conservation in corporate forestry practices. Partners select and tailor guidelines to improve management for reforestation, harvesting techniques, recreation, sensitive sites and outreach.

Representatives were recognized in a brief ceremony Thursday at the State Capitol. DNR Deputy Commissioner Homer Bryson, Wildlife Resources Division Assistant Director Mark Whitney and others joined the presentation. Partners received copies of “The Natural Communities of Georgia,” signed by the authors and photographers.

According to DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, with more than 90 percent of Georgia forestland in private ownership, successful wildlife management requires conservation leadership in the state’s private and corporate sector. “Our 2013 Forestry for Wildlife partners have shown such leadership, improving 1 million acres for wildlife in our state,” Williams said.

The Wildlife Resources Division recognized Georgia Power, CatchMark Timber Trust and Plum Creek as Forestry for Wildlife Partners for:

  • Preparing wildlife conservation plans that detail natural resources inventories and outline management strategies that combine forest and wildlife aspects.
  • Providing internal training opportunities for employees on how to blend forestland management with wildlife-friendly practices for multiple natural resource benefits.
  • Incorporating wildlife management into land-use planning and timber management practices.
  • Providing valuable data for Wildlife Resources Division research projects.
  • Providing public recreational opportunities on corporate forestlands.
  • Participating in partnerships with conservation organizations.
  • Managing riparian forests for wildlife use and water quality protection.

Habitat is the key to wildlife abundance. Georgia has more than 24 million acres of forestland. Of that, corporate forest landowners manage about 12 percent.

Efforts benefiting from Forestry for Wildlife include management of endangered red-cockaded woodpecker habitats, bald eagle and swallow-tailed kite nesting, isolated wetlands critical to protected reptiles and amphibians, and rare remnant Coosa Valley prairie and Black Belt prairie habitats containing endangered plants. The partnerships also provide the public with many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, including hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.

Some examples of partners’ work in 2013 include:

  • With guidance from DNR and Florida’s wildlife agency, Plum Creek enhanced 92 acres for gopher tortoises at two Glynn County sites, and has since seen recruitment at one of the sites. Staff also teamed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and State Botanical Garden of Georgia to create a granite outcrop pool for endangered mat-forming quillwort. Transplants are thriving in the pool.
  • Georgia Power teamed with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section to conduct surveys for Georgia aster on transmission rights of ways, discovering new locations for the plant species, a candidate for federal listing. Also, a Telfair County project with the DNR to relocate tortoises displaced by development was fully implemented, including restoring acres of longleaf pine.
  • CatchMark Timber Trust protected habitat for endangered fringed campion in Talbot County. The company also continued efforts to restore longleaf pine in sandhill habitats across west-central Georgia. CatchMark is working, as well, with private landowners and the DNR to conduct controlled burns needed at sensitive, natural long-leaf pine sites along the Flint River.

All of the conservation enhancement components and reporting procedures are compatible with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., a voluntary approach in the forest industry to maintain high environmental standards on lands managed by corporate landowners.

Article produced by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.