Conservation Easement Secures Natural Resources, Military Installation And Local Jobs In Southeast Georgia
August 23, 2012
Loblolly pine forest. Photo courtesy Georgia Land Trust.
More Than 3,000 Acres Of Forestland Protected
Long & Liberty Counties, Ga. — The Conservation Fund, Fort Stewart and Georgia Land Trust announced today a conservation easement on 3,049 acres of mixed pine and hardwood forestland just west of Hinesville. The conservation agreement will buffer the installation and protect forest and recreational resources while strengthening the local economy through sustainable forestry.
Comprised of four distinct properties, the protected tracts were a conservation priority for the U.S. Army because of their proximity to Fort Stewart, sharing more than 2.5 miles of the Installation’s border. To help the Army limit incompatible development in the vicinity of the Installation and preserve this diverse forest habitat, The Conservation Fund purchased the properties from Rayonier Timberlands Operating Company at the end of 2011 with support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Georgia Land Trust purchased conservation easements on all four of these tracts primarily with funding provided by the Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative and through Ft. Stewart’s Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. Georgia Land Trust will hold and monitor the conservation easement. The Conservation Fund will own and manage the acreage as a working forest, continuing to pay local real property taxes and lease the properties to local hunting clubs.
“This is an example of what can be achieved when government, private industry, and non-profits coordinate their efforts,” said Congressman Jack Kingston. “The agreement will conserve land, create jobs, increase recreational access and provide Fort Stewart with buffer without negatively impacting the local tax base. I commend the parties involved and hope we can work toward similar agreements where they would be mutually beneficial.”
“This effort is a great example of modern conservation,” said Andrew Schock, Georgia State Director for The Conservation Fund. “The easement protects the forests while the property is sustainably managed for its timber resources and remains on the tax rolls. In the end, we are supporting local jobs, preserving popular hunt club lands and helping to ensure that our country’s military warriors will have a place to train as they prepare to defend our nation and fight for freedom. It’s a relationship where everyone wins – the military, the environment and the community.”
Georgia Land Trust’s Executive Director, Katherine Eddins said: “We are pleased to help in the conservation of these four working forest tracts. The Conservation Fund has helped facilitate the first conservation easement transactions along the southwest border of the installation. In the immediate vicinity of Fort Stewart, there are now more than 17,000 acres of land protected through Ft. Stewart’s ACUB Program.”
“We appreciate that this land will stay an integral part of the working forest landscape of the region,” commented Callie DeHaven, manager of Rayonier’s conservation program. “The alliance between stewardship and ownership is fundamental to Rayonier. Through responsible stewardship of our lands we assure that they produce clean air and water, places for wildlife to thrive, outdoor recreation and scenic beauty today and tomorrow. Working forests provide the timber and wood-based products that allow us to do business, create jobs, serve our shareholders and support a healthy economy.”
Juniper Hunt Club President, James Teel added, “We are pleased to know that the land we’ve loved over the years will be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The pine and bottomland hardwood forests found on the acreage provide ideal habitat favored by a variety of migratory Neotropical birds, songbirds and waterfowl, including orioles, tanagers, brown-headed nuthatch, Bachman’s sparrow, bobwhite quail, mourning dove, barn owl and great horned owls.
At nearly 279,270 acres, Fort Stewart is the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River. The ACUB program allows Fort Stewart and Georgia Land Trust to partner with agencies and non-governmental organizations to share the cost of acquiring conservation easements and fee simple purchases from willing landowners whose properties are located within designated ACUB priority areas. In addition to creating a buffer of open space around Fort Stewart, and thereby safeguarding the installation’s training mission, the ACUB program preserves valuable wildlife habitat and sensitive natural, historic and cultural resources.
The Conservation Fund has conserved more than a million acres of forestland, with special emphasis on privately owned working forests. For more than a decade, the Fund has owned and operated forests in every major timber-growing region across the country, using conservation-focused forest management strategies designed to enhance forest health and productivity, wildlife habitat and water quality, while also increasing asset value.
About Georgia Land Trust
Georgia Land Trust, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization headquartered in Savannah, Ga. dedicated to protecting land for present and future generations, primarily by helping private landowners establish conservation easements on family and investment lands. Georgia Land Trust protects more than 130,000 acres in Georgia. Georgia Land Trust, Inc. and its affiliate organization Alabama Land Trust, Inc., partner organization Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, and founding organization The Chattowah Open Land Trust, Inc., permanently safeguard more than 190,000 acres of land with more than 560 conservation easements, thereby protecting more private land than any other regional conservation group in the southeast.
Learn more about the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB)
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.
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