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A crowd of over a hundred gathered to learn about creek critters and watch little rubber duckies race at the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust’s third annual Duck Derby.

All the little yellow fellows crossed the finish line to the delight of the crowd, especially all the kids. Earlier in the day those same kids spent the day catching bugs, learning how to detect venomous snakes, and how to be safe on the water. One of our partners, the Anniston Museum of Natural History lent us two birds of prey, a red-tailed hawk and an owl, to teach kids about birds and bird migration.

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Renee Raney with Bobo the Owl.

Money raised at this year’s event will fund our new conservation education institute. The outreach program, led by Conservation Director Renee Raney, is an effort to educate the young about the importance of preserving special places. She says,”Today’s children spend less time outside than any previous generation. Playing outside creates a connection between life and land, building our future conservationists!”

A Big thank you goes out to all of the participants, duck adopters, volunteers, door prize donors, and our hosts, Mike and Kat at Terrapin Outdoor Center and Hank and Teresa at Red Neck Yacht Club. A special thank you to Cheaha State Park Cooperative Extension Service, and Wells Fargo for their support.  We cannot wait until next year! (Hint: It’s June 3rd, 2017!)

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Coming June 4th, Terrapin Creek will be invaded by Pirate Ducks! The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust and our Conservation Education Institute will host a Third Annual Duck Derby and Wild Child education event along Terrapin Creek. No real ducks are used in this race, only the rubber kind.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust’s new Conservation Education InIMG_4521stitute (CEI) will be presenting diverse learning stations for kids from pre-k to grey. There will be a hay ride, bug hunt, a bird migration game, a 4-H River Kids safety course, and live animals, including reptiles and birds of prey.

Children will complete a Passport to Conservation as they engage in fun activities. Toy prizes will be awarded for passport participation. Partners include Alabama State Parks, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, and the Anniston Museum of Natural History.

The event begins at 10am at the Terrapin Outdoor Center and Redneck Yacht Club on County Road 175 just above Piedmont, AL off of Alabama Highway 9. Live music begins at noon, plus we will serve FREE hot dogs until they are gone!

For more information call 256-447-1006 or adopt your duck HERE
and get your Pirates of the Terrapin t-shirt.  You can also check out our website at www.galandtrust.org for the latest information.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust (GALT) and Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) are partnering to create the largest cave preserve in Georgia. The Charles B. Henson Cave Preserve at Rising Fawn will include approximately 1,300 acres of land that has been acquired by Georgia-Alabama Land Trust over a three year period in the failed subdivision known as the Preserve at Rising Fawn in Dade County. The Land Trust recently sold its holdings at Rising Fawn to a conservation buyer who will protect the land with a conservation easement. The Land Trust will continue to manage the land and seek donations of additional lots.

Entrance to Lost Canyon Cave. Photo Credit: Alan Grosse

Entrance to Lost Canyon Cave. Photo Credit: Alan Grosse

The “Preserve“ is located in the unique and threatened landscape of Johnson’s Crook, a deep horseshoe-shaped cove with high bluffs in the Lookout Mountain ridge. Many of the slopes are underlain by limestone bedrock, in which more than 30 known caves have formed. These caves are important habitat for many types of cave-dwelling species, and also, have in the past been popular among recreational caving enthusiasts for their varied challenges and remarkable beauty.

According to GALT Executive Director Katherine Eddins, “Partnering with SCCi is a natural fit for this property given its extensive cave system.”

Ron Miller, SCCi Chair, adds: “We are very excited to work with GALT in managing one of Georgia’s most significant cave areas. We are also honored that this cave preserve is being named in memory of longtime SCCi member and benefactor Chuck Henson. Johnson’s Crook and its many caves held a special place in Chuck’s heart, and he worked tirelessly in the last years of his life to save this exceptional landscape.”

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1991 that protects cave resources in the Southeast through management, conservation and education. The largest nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated to cave conservation, SCCi owns and/or manages 30 preserves containing over 140 caves in six southeastern states.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust received a $123,950 grant from the Coca-Cola Company Foundation to support watershed protection in Georgia’s Chattahoochee River Basin and Alabama’s Cahaba, Black Warrior and Tom Bigbee River Basins.

“The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is working to save water through land preservation throughout the South,” said Katherine Eddins, executive director of the Land Trust. “Funding from the grant will help us and our affiliate in Columbus, Georgia, the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, protect land from development in watersheds serving Columbus and Birmingham & Montgomery, Alabama.”

Job Opening

Protected lands under a conservation easement recharge groundwater and streams that provide water for nature and communities.  A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a land owner and a land trust that permanently limits the development of the land. Easements protect significant wildlife habitat by preserving open space, including natural areas, farm and forest land.

Development on these now protected lands would have caused increased runoff and the loss of drinkable water. By preserving these 4,338 acres of open space, the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is ensuring that over 3 billion liters of water will be available for lakes, streams and faucets.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, was founded in 1994 by conservation-minded individuals in response to rapid development and encroachment of natural areas, farms and woodlands. We are now the largest private lands conservation organization in the Southeast, protecting over 268,000 acres of land with 775 voluntary conservation easements.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust received a $123,950 grant from the Coca-Cola Company Foundation to support watershed protection in Georgia’s Chattahoochee River Basin and Alabama’s Cahaba, Black Warrior and Tom Bigbee River Basins.

“The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is working to save water through land preservation throughout the South,” said Katherine Eddins, executive director of the Land Trust. “Funding from the grant will help us and our affiliate in Columbus, Georgia, the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, protect land from development in watersheds serving Columbus and Birmingham & Montgomery, Alabama.”

Job Opening

Protected lands under a conservation easement recharge groundwater and streams that provide water for nature and communities.  A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a land owner and a land trust that permanently limits the development of the land. Easements protect significant wildlife habitat by preserving open space, including natural areas, farm and forest land.

Development on these now protected lands would have caused increased runoff and the loss of drinkable water. By preserving these 4,338 acres of open space, the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is ensuring that over 3 billion liters of water will be available for lakes, streams and faucets.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, was founded in 1994 by conservation-minded individuals in response to rapid development and encroachment of natural areas, farms and woodlands. We are now the largest private lands conservation organization in the Southeast, protecting over 268,000 acres of land with 775 voluntary conservation easements.

Every Friday we will  feature one of our easement landowners. These stories are updates on profiles written by Frank McIntosh.  

Walter Sheffield’s uncle had a simple land ownership philosophy: “I only want to own what touches mine.” Not all of the family was quite that avid in their pursuit of land ownership, but from Walter’s grandfather’s first 70 acres purchased in 1888, they’ve been active landowners in Miller County, GA. Walter’s father’s purchased a farm adjacent to his Grandfather’s holdings in 1914, and Walter and his three siblings acquired land adjoining their father’s.

Walter Sheffield

Walter Sheffield

Earlier, much of the land was part of the Seminole nation. Andrew Jackson led an expedition to the area, and his troops notched trees along their route through the dense woods to guide them out. Many places in the area carry “three notch” in their names after Jackson’s navigation markers.

It would have been tough going with the dense cover of cedar and pines. The cedar were logged first, with the pine later harvested for ties for the rail line that forms part of the boundary of the 69-acre easement conveyed to the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust. Grandfather Sheffield bought much of his land during this time, paying around two and a half dollars per acre.

After his father’s death, Walter purchased a sister and brother’s section of the family farmstead and even acquired the land that eventually became the conservation easement from his uncle. The easement protects rich soils and bottomlands that buffer Aycock’s Creek, part of the Flint River watershed, identified as a Georgia High Priority Waterway.

Like many who grew up in the area, Sheffield fondly relates experiences with hunting, bird dogs and some of the animals hunted.

Walter’s first shotgun was a reward for picking his first bale of cotton and he notes that “with lots of fence lines there were always quail. I don’t hunt any more, but I always had five bird dogs down on the property. The last one—a wonderful German short-haired pointer—died recently. He was the second best dog I ever owned.”

The first best? “Another pointer. We had split rail fencing on the property, and he would leap on top of those fences and hold a point. He was amazing.”

Live Oaks on the Sheffield Property

Live Oaks on the Sheffield Property

The property’s crown jewels for Walter remain his live oaks. Sadly, the trees have seen Grandfather Sheffield’s home burn—”six rooms with a separated cooking wing”—and saw the land that held the old house leave the family, about the only part of the family’s extended holdings to do so. If the trees live another couple of hundred years, they may never see that again.

Walter’s three children share his affection for the home place, and he reports that son John III’s first question when visiting from Denver is, “When are we going to the farm?” We hope the oaks will always have some Sheffields to shelter and echo Walter when he says of the oaks, “I hope they are there forever.”

 

Every Friday we will  feature one of our easement landowners. These stories are updates on profiles written by Frank McIntosh.  

Not every land trust has donors from Moscow, but Georgia-Alabama Land Trust affiliate, Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, achieved that distinction in 2008. It’s just not the land of Vladimir Putin; this Moscow is in Idaho, where donor Dr. Maynard Fosberg is a Professor Emeritus of Soil Science at the University of Idaho.

Growing up in California, Dr. Fosberg probably didn’t envision himself marrying a Georgia Peach. However, while stationed in Thomasville, GA. in World War II, he met Margaret Williams and found himself married into the Peach State.

Maynard Fosberg

Maynard Fosberg

Margaret (who Maynard says is more Steel Magnolia than Georgia Peach) grew up on a Heard County farm that her parents, Newt and May Williams, purchased in 1910. The home she and her siblings were raised in and from which they worked the land in cotton and other cultivation alongside sharecroppers, still stands and is occupied by one of Margaret’s nieces. “Four generations of my family were raised here in Heard County, dating back to the early 1800s,” Margaret says. “All are buried at the Mt. Zion Church cemetery in Glenn, GA. This land is very important to the family legacy.”

When Dr. Fosberg discusses the land that comprises the old farm and the 121-acre conservation easement, the soil scientist comes forward and you get a sense of how difficult cultivating the farm must have been. “They’re typical sub-tropic soils—deeply weathered ultisols. They’re iron rich, which gives them their deep red color. It’s classic red clay. It’s highly erosive and the topsoil is gone. At this point we’re working the subsoil.”

The land now lends itself more to timber, and most of the property is in pine. Fosberg, who did graduate work in forestry at the University of Wisconsin, manages his own stands and feels very strongly about the right way to manage timber. In addition to timberlands, the property also has a Special Natural area along the property’s southern boundary that features streams and a whitewater creek.

Fosberg says he and six siblings (among them renowned botanist, F. Raymond Fosberg) “were taught as children by our mother about preserving the environment and are just naturally oriented toward the environment and conservation” and “always wanted to learn the names of everything.”

He adds, “Having property that preserves unique habitat and land is a special responsibility. I believe in preserving as much open land as possible—keeping some of it out of houses. What’s going to happen in a hundred years or a thousand? We need to protect land now. What happens when I’m gone? Our daughter, Stephanie, and son, Mark, want it to stay the same but what about after them?”

Dr. Fosberg reports that his daughter said the easement “is the best thing that ever happened,” so at least for another generation the Williams family legacy will have the guiding hand of the family, in addition to the protection of the conservation easement.

Dr. Fosberg’s dedication to land protection is not limited to Georgia. He also donated an easement on 25 acres in Moscow, Idaho. “It’s a little farm that preserves space for birds and other critters,” he says.

 

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