Learning


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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Want to play in the woods and get paid to do it? This summer the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust will have a paid summer intern program funded by Legacy Partners in Environmental Education.  The program is part of the Darryl Gates Memorial Summer College Internship Program.GAALLandTrustConservationInstitute2Color

Interns will work full-time for a minimum of eight weeks and must be rising Juniors or Seniors in good academic standing.  Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a relevant undergraduate degree program at a four-year college or university in the state of Alabama. The program is looking for students who are enrolled in a variety of environmentally-related fields, such as environmental education or engineering; environmental studies; teaching degrees in science, biology, or related field; environmental law; or other related career paths.  Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale as of Fall quarter/semester 2015, and are planning to be enrolled full-time through the fall of 2016.

Our intern will be working with our new Conservation Education Institute and will assit with the development, implementation, and assessment of immersion-based programs, outdoor adventure workshops, and other fun events that connect people to nature. The intern will also have opportunities to work in land protection, easement monitoring, land management practices and conservation field surveys.

For more information or an application click HERE.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is pleased to announce the launch of its new Conservation Education Institute. This new initiative will serve land owners and the general public, including adults, children, families, students, teachers, and educators. The Land Trust believes that building an appreciation for the natural environment is critical to its mission of protecting land and creating a healthier landscape.

“Expanding public outreach activities will provide quality educational experiences while benefitting our land protection mission. Our new Conservation Education Institute will focus on Alabama, Georgia, and other easement locations,” says Katherine Eddins, Executive Director.GAALLandTrustConservationInstitute2Color

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust recently employed Renee Simmons Raney to serve as Director of Conservation. She will develop and implement  programs which will include Conservationist-in-Training courses for families and youth, a new “Wild Child” series to conquer nature deficit disorder, outdoor classroom events, educational outreach, partnership field programs, teacher workshops, environmental arts, natural heritage storytelling series, and the successful Choccolocco Creek Watershed Alliance project, which was founded in 2010 and is funded by Eastman.

“We believe that an appreciation of our natural resources and heritage is critical to our mission of protecting land and creating a healthier landscape. By providing educational opportunities to people of all ages, we increase the number of folks who understand the value of natural resources and are therefore more likely to take steps to protect these fragile resources,” says Renee Simmons Raney, Director of Conservation.

Raney served as the Assistant Director for Jacksonville State University Field Schools for the past twelve years. Prior to that she was the Education Director for ten years at the Anniston Museum of Natural History.

Allies to this new endeavor include organizations such as Legacy: Partners in EE, Environmental Education Association of Alabama, Longleaf Botanical Gardens, Alabama and Georgia Parks and Recreation, Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama State Parks, Georgia’s McIntosh Preserve, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Talladega National Forest, private land resources, and many others.

“Growing up on a southern dairy farm, I often went fishing, swimming, and paddling with my parents. We were frequently accompanied by swarms of jewel-toned dragonflies. Once an emerald dragonfly landed on the tip of my fishing pole. Momma told me to make a wish, but before I even had time to make one, I caught a fish. At that moment, catching a fish was my wish! However, as time passed, my “wish” evolved into a hopeful passion for preserving natural places so that future generations of children will have enchanted moments in the natural world.

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust today praised a bipartisan congressional vote that makes permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation.

Farmers, ranchers and the public will directly benefit from the incentive that encourages landowners to place a conservation easement on their land to protect important natural, scenic and historic resources. Georgia-Alabama Land Trust was among the 1,100 land trusts to support the incentive through a collaborative, multi-year campaign. uscapitol-washingtondc-picture1-001

“This will have significant impact on land conservation in our community,” said Katherine Eddins, Executive Director of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust. “We are grateful to Congress and our local representatives for this important legislation.”

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, the national land conservation organization that led the campaign for permanence.

In a strong bipartisan action, the House voted 318-109 and the Senate voted 65-33 to pass the bills that included the tax incentive.

First enacted as a temporary provision in 2006, the incentive is directly responsible for conserving more than 2 million acres of America’s natural outdoor heritage. The incentive grants certain tax benefits to landowners who sign a conservation easement. Such private, voluntary agreements with local land trusts permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Lands placed into conservation easements can continue to be farmed, hunted or used for other specified purposes. The lands also remain on county tax rolls, strengthening local economies.

Once signed into law, the incentive will be applied retroactively to Jan. 1, 2015. An earlier version of the incentive expired Dec. 31, 2014.

 

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

Dr. Donnie Smith grew up on a farm in Coffee County, AL that his father worked until age 85. He says, “farming was kind of like a marriage to my father. He didn’t last too long after he finally had to stop working the farm; people die pretty quickly when they lose a spouse.”

A sister now lives in the home place that they grew up in and the original 400 acres is back in the family after being sold. “I worked real hard on that, and I’ve made sure it can never leave the family again,” Smith says.

Dr. Donnie Smith, his son and grandson

Dr. Donnie Smith, his son and grandson

Smith has protected some 1,000 acres in Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties in Alabama with a conservation easement held by Georgia-Alabama Land Trust.

Hunting was a luxury growing up in that very rural setting, but Smith has been drawn to hunting his whole life. And hunting drew him to want to own land. After finishing medical school “and I finally had some expendable cash, I started buying properties. As land became available I would purchase it—80 acres here, 80 acres there. It adds up. I now own properties from Montana to Florida. I just enjoy looking for a new place to visit.”

Smith’s 2008 conservation easement is land that is predominantly managed for timber but features intermixed hardwoods and two lakes. Smith reports the land is good for wildlife viewing, noting sightings of quail, wood ducks (15-20 mating pairs, some drawn to duck boxes around the property), foxes, and bobcats. The lakes even draw transient ospreys.

one of the lakes on the Smith easement

One of the lakes on the Smith easement

Beyond the connection with the land  and  hunting, Smith says, “land is still a good investment. It’s not too liquid, but right about now I wished I’d put my 401k in it.”

The preservation of natural environments is important to Smith, too, noting that “we want to see some things kept in a natural state. What would be happening to a place like Yellowstone had it not been protected? I would hate see what might have happened.”

And then there is another benefit of land ownership. “It is a relief valve,” Smith says. “Some people go see a psychiatrist; I go up and work the land. I enjoy managing the land for turkey. I enjoy maintaining the road and fire lanes—just running the equipment.”

 

The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is looking for a self motivated person with good organization skills for administrative support in our Savannah office.  Paralegal certification or experience is preferred.  The applicant will assist the protection staff with land protection projects and assist project managers in communicating and coordinating with new and previous donors.

Job Opening

Job Opening

The applicant must be proficient in the use of Microsoft Excel and calendar programs to track projects and must be able to utilize Microsoft Access to generate data for land protection projects. Certification as a Georgia Notary Public is prefered and travel within the project area may be required. Experience with real estate transactions, title review and a commitment to land conservation in the southeast is a must.

Please send a cover letter and resume to Kat Nelson, Director of Land Protection at knelson@galandtrust.org by the end of the day on September 4th, 2015.

For a more detailed look at the job description, please click the link, HERE.

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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