Oconee National Forest
Oconee National Forest. Photo by Royston Ford/Flickr
Did you know that forestry is the largest manufacturing sector in Georgia? Forests are a critical part of the state’s economy. Unfortunately, in recent years across the country, including areas throughout the Southeast, more than 10 million acres of private forest have been placed on the market. Timber companies are increasingly selling off their lands that for decades formed the basis of local economies and provided wildlife habitat, making these areas vulnerable to fragmentation and possible development.
What can be done? At the Fund, we’re saving working forests so they can continue to support the economy and wildlife that rely upon them. Support from the Centex Land Legacy Fund enabled the Fund to craft a unique transaction with the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Forest Service and private landowners that combined mitigation and restoration to conserve more than 1,600 acres of working forests that are now part of Oconee National Forest.
Crisscrossed by rivers and creeks and thick with trees, Oconee National Forest embraces more than 115,000 acres of the rolling Georgia Piedmont. This land supports wildlife like the bald eagle, turkey, white-tailed deer and bobcat. Expansion of Oconee means that hikers and campers can continue to seek out the forest’s many trails and backcountry sites, while anglers and paddlers ply the extensive waterways.