Challenge

Forestry and agriculture are critical industries across the South and Georgia is no exception. Together, they contribute nearly $112 billion to the state’s economy annually. And Georgia happens to be home to the iconic gopher tortoise, a keystone species whose large burrow systems benefit and support around 350 other species. The gopher tortoise is federally protected in some areas, and  is a candidate for endangered species status in Georgia. If the gopher tortoise becomes federally protected in Georgia, it could have a significant negative impact on the timber and agricultural industry in the south. 

Action

In 2019, working together with Open Space Institute we purchased Ceylon, one of the largest undeveloped coastal, conservation-quality properties in the Southeast—land that is also home to one of the largest densities of gopher tortoises in the state. Working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, we helped establish a new Wildlife Management Area that will restore and protect gopher tortoise habitat, create space for public recreation and support Georgia’s working landscape.

Terms of use: Images are to be used by OSI in print and online sources. Credit to imagesshould read as: Photo by Mac Stone and linked back to artist in captions onsocial media. Instagram: @macstonephoto Facebook: @mac stonephotography. Images can be shared with GADNR under the same conditions,but should not be sublicensed to other third parties except for newspapersand press materials relating to OSI's conservation efforts on the Ceylonproperty. Photo by Mac Stone

 

“The Knobloch Family Foundation and its Directors are proud to support the permanent protection of this vital gopher tortoise habitat. The unique mix of coastal marsh and longleaf pine make it an ideal place for a Wildlife Management Area. The collaboration of many public and private partners is a big win for wildlife and the State of Georgia.”

– Eleanor Ratchford, Director, Knobloch Family Foundation



Why it matters

Together with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Open Space Institute, and federal and private partners, we are proving that conservation, protection and economic development can go hand-in-hand. Protecting the gopher tortoises at Ceylon will tip the scale, fortifying the future of this important species and the many jobs supported by the farming and forestry industries in Georgia.