Within the Altamaha watershed sits the pristine 20,000-acre Sansavilla property. This mix of bottomland hardwood and pine forests contains 14 miles of frontage on the Altamaha River and provides habitat for one of the largest populations of the gopher tortoise, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and the indigo snake, already listed as a threatened species. Sansavilla also has tremendous potential for restoring longleaf pine and wire grass, two key native species of the area.

For years the State of Georgia eyed this property for a wildlife management area, and in 2014 The Conservation Fund made that a reality by purchasing the property with the help of our Working Forest Fund. We managed the property as an industrial pine plantation for timber in collaboration with the State’s wildlife goals, giving the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) time to secure the funding to purchase the land in phases for its permanent protection. The last phase was completed in 2017.

The Sansavilla Wildlife Management area provides a variety of recreational opportuities in addtion to water-based activities, including wildlife watching and hunting for such species as deer, turkey and small game.

Financing for the protection of Sansavilla came from Georgia Clean Water Revolving Fund, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy program, and the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program.

“I have been completely overjoyed by the support of the conservation community. I have received emails, telephone calls and had personal conversations with people who have expressed gratitude and wonderment that the Fund is able to step up to the plate, stick our necks out, take a huge risk, move so quickly, manage such a complex situation, and do the kind of conservation no one else can do.”

—Andrew Schock, Georgia State Director, The Conservation Fund


High demands on the Altamaha River have placed this ecosystem at risk. If The Conservation Fund hadn’t acquired Sansavilla and provided the State the time for permanent conservation to take place, it likely would have been fragmented, leaving the habitat and watershed degraded, and the public access for recreation eliminated.

Our Working Forest Fund is a dedicated source of bridge capital that allows us to quickly acquire threatened forests with high conservation value. While we own, restore and sustainably manage these lands as working forests, we work with our conservation partners to raise the funds to permanently protect them. These multi-year transactions are complex and technical, but our dedicated team of real estate, finance, forestry and fundraising experts rise to the challenge time and time again.