November 21, 2023

Conservation Land Surrounding Amicalola Falls State Park More Than Triples in Size

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — Today, The Conservation Fund and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the addition of more than 2,000 acres to Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area in north Georgia, more than tripling the state conservation lands around Amicalola Falls State Park. Just over an hour north of Atlanta, Amicalola Falls is one of the state’s most popular parks and is home to Georgia’s tallest and most iconic waterfall. The park also connects to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail, attracting thousands of visitors and thru-hikers every year. 

The 2,000-acre property, adjacent to both the state park and the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, was a high priority for conservation due to its crucial headwaters, forest habitats, wildlife connectivity and recreational potential. In 2022, The Conservation Fund was able to step in and secure the property, which was at risk of development — and today has transferred it to DNR for permanent protection as part of the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area. 

DNR Commissioner Walter Rabon said, “Georgia DNR places a high priority on providing public access to our state’s natural resources. This new addition to Dawson Forest WMA stands as a testament to successful conservation efforts, allowing our agency to offer citizens invaluable access to public land with significant conservation benefits, along with a range of recreational opportunities like hunting.” 

“Large conservation opportunities like this are rare in north Georgia, which faces rapidly increasing development pressure — and connecting that conservation to a Georgia crown jewel like Amicalola Falls State Park is the most amazing part of the story,” said Stacy Funderburke, Georgia state director at The Conservation Fund. “This property was slated to be subdivided and sold, which would have resulted in the loss of important forests, watershed protection in the upper Etowah River basin, as well as wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities.” 

The Conservation Fund is a leader in conserving at-risk lands and waters, with a significant focus on state priority projects that provide critical public access. In Georgia, the Fund has protected nearly 190,000 total acres, including forest landscapes like this one in north Georgia, blackwater swamps in the Okefenokee Refuge in south Georgia, and important river corridors across the state like the Suwannee, Etowah, Flint and Altamaha. In addition to these rural landscapes, the Fund is also protecting high-risk urban greenspaces in Atlanta like the Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve and cultural heritage sites like thje Chattahoochee Brick site in Atlanta. 

Support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through Walmart’s Acres for America program was critical in this effort, as was support from the Knobloch Family Foundation, Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program, Georgia DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman-Robertson) and Cooperative Endangered Species Act-Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program, and other partners. 

“From the moment we first reviewed the Amicalola Falls project, we knew that this was an important project for us to support, and one that was an excellent fit for Walmart’s Acres for America program,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Georgians treasure this place, and in addition to its scenic beauty, the chance to conserve the headwaters streams in this area is exceptionally rare. Acres for America works to conserve lands and wildlife habitat of national significance and to benefit local communities and local economies, and Amicalola Falls truly achieves these goals.” 

In addition to expanding the conservation lands including the state park from 800 to over 3,000 acres, this project also protects the headwaters of Good Neighbor Creek within the Etowah River Basin, a key watershed for Atlanta that eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. It will enhance watershed protection along Good Neighbor Creek, part of a stream mitigation project by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Corblu Ecology Group and Mountain Conservation Trust of North Georgia. The Etowah River watershed contains at-risk freshwater species not seen anywhere else in the world, like the federally-listed, endangered Etowah darter. 

Today’s addition to Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area is part of The Conservation Fund’s larger effort to protect critical forest land in the area, including the 2,000-acre Dawson Forest tract, as well as an additional 780 acres nearby that will be added to Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in 2024. 

Video courtesy of NFWF.


About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit

Media Contacts:
Josh Lynsen | 703-908-5809 |