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.

Advertisements

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.

When you own “the prettiest little mountain farm you ever saw,” and your work—raising pure-bred Salers Cattle— is the passion of your life, you start to think about how to protect a place.

Jo Colmore’s Walker County, GA. tract is one of the largest unbroken tracts in an area of increasing fragmentation of property. Located on top of Lookout Mountain, the land is “just full of hemlocks” and, according to Colmore, is the perfect spot for a home site and to raise his “momma cows.”

Jo Colmore with some of his Saler's Cattle

Jo Colmore with some of his Saler’s Cattle

Colmore has owned the property since 1967, when he and his brother got “a hankering to own some land.” After running a summer camp until 1983, Colmore turned to cattle breeding full-time. The calves he raises are sold to other cattle businesses for breeding purposes.

While his place is usually a portrait of tranquility, the mothers were weaning calves at the time of this interview. Colmore says it gets a little hectic during weaning but that “everyone calms down in a week or so.”

Like many donors, Colmore didn’t just leap into his conservation easement. He took his time, but came to the decision after taking in the miles of darkness untouched by electric lights. He realized it was time to “join this thing” and placed 115 acres of his property, including sensitive areas along Bear Creek, into a conservation easement.

Woodlands on the 115 acre easement

Woodlands on the 115 acre easement

Colmore enjoys sitting on his porch at night looking out at the pristine woodlands of his property and the nearby Cloudland Canyon State Park.

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.

 

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

Six generations of Stanleys have worked land in Georgia’s Toombs and Tattnall counties, and another generation is learning to love the land and how to work it.

The Stanley family has been living and farming in the Toombs County area longer than there has been a Toombs County and almost as long as Tattnall has been a county. The history of the Stanleys is their work on the land, including the 1,635-acre tract in Tattnall the family preserved in 2009 with a conservation easement held by the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust.

SIx generations: L-R, Bryan, Terry, Vince and R.T. Stanley

Six generations: L-R, Bryan, Terry, Vince and R.T. Stanley

“I started out sharecropping with my great uncle,” R.T. Stanley says. It was sharecropping that helped strengthen his determination to own land. “As I was growing up, I always wanted to buy land and own it. It’s in my blood. It’s always better to own it; you never know what will happen when you lease it.” The land in the conservation easement features around two miles of frontage on the Ohoopee River.

“The downturn in the economy was a two-edged sword. It hurt some people, but it helped make this tract available,” says R.T., whose sons Vince, Brian and Tracy joined him in donating the easement. “Buying this tract is the biggest transaction in my life; it’s a big step—a big chance to take.”

All the Stanleys agree that it was a chance worth taking. “It’s just so big and diverse,” Vince says. “There are a couple of hundred acres of longleaf and wiregrass, and we planted another 150 acres of longleaf. There’s a variety of hunting and fishing, and the land is good.”

Good indeed: 43 percent of the property is rated either prime soil or soil of statewide importance. Almost 300 acres are highly desirable for production of sweet Vidalia onions. In addition to growing the onions, the Stanleys now operate Vidalia Valley Farms, which produces Vidalia Valley Onion® products, including salad dressings, barbecue sauce and even a Vidalia Onion Slow Burn Peach Hot Sauce®.

When asked who created the recipes for the sauces, Vince reports that he liked combining his entrepreneurial and culinary abilities. Who created the recipes? Vince says simply, “I did.” His inspiration? “Well, I do like to make money. And they taste real good, too.”

Bottomland along the Ohoopee

Bottomland along the Ohoopee

The Stanleys’ conservation easement with the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust will ensure that the family will always have a place, not only to continue working the land, but also to gather the family in some of their favorite pursuits. Much of the property is used for hunting and abounds with deer, dove, and turkey. It also features man-made ponds that support healthy populations of bass and white perch.

Vince says, “Working with the Land Trust, we feel like we covered everything. We kept changing the easement around a good bit and got it where it was a win-win. We can continue using the land, mixing in food plots, timber and crops on a lot of the property, but there are over 140 acres of 100-year old bottomlands that will never be touched.”

And even more important to the sixth generation of Stanleys is what the conservation easement means to the seventh generation. “Now, we know our kids will grow up on this land. They love to go out on it with us.”

Vidalia Valley Farms

Stanley Farms