Forestland Around Fort Stewart In Georgia
Photo by Georgia Land Trust
At more than 279,000 acres, Fort Stewart is the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River. The Army Compatlible Use Buffer 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.
A Working Forest
To help the Army limit incompatible development in the vicinity of the Fort Stewart and preserve an area of diverse forest habitat, the Fund purchased more than 3,000 acres of mixed pine and hardwood forestland just west of Hinesville. 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.
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.
The 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. We 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 program. Georgia Land Trust will hold and monitor the conservation easement.
“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.”