Wildlife habitats along the Altamaha River and one of Georgia’s rarest plants will be protected and restored with two new land acquisitions.
Almost 2,000 acres in Wayne, Brantley and Appling counties have been acquired for protection by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Open Space Institute. Both properties have been longstanding priorities for the DNR, which is working to make them open to the public by 2020.
The 1,666-acre tract in Wayne and Brantley counties is the largest documented population of Hairy Rattleweed, a yellow flowered plant covered in tiny hairs that is federally listed as endangered and known to exist only in Georgia. Protection of the Hairy Rattleweed will also help protect the gopher tortoises that live on the property and increase the potential for additional populations.
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The second acquisition, 267 acres along the Altamaha River in Appling County, adds to the 183,500 acres of conservation along the river in the Moody Forest Wildlife Management Area.
Both acquisitions “further the goal of conservation of native species and natural habitats articulated in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan,” said Jon Ambrose, chief of DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.
The Wildlife Action Plan is a statewide plan to conserve populations of native wildlife species and their natural habitats before the animals, plants and places become extinct and require more resources to conserve or restore.
The Open Space Institute purchased the tracts from Rayonier, a timberland real estate investment trust (REIT) that managed the Hairy Rattleweed Protection Tract for more than a decade.