JESUP, Ga. — Two significant land acquisitions in southeast Georgia were announced today by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Open Space Institute (OSI). One property secures critical habitat for the restoration of rare species, including one of the state’s rarest plants, hairy rattleweed, and Georgia’s state reptile, the gopher tortoise. The other tract will be part of Moody Forest Wildlife Management Area and help protect key wildlife habitats along the Altamaha River.
Totaling approximately 1,933 acres, the properties consist of the 1,666-acre Hairy Rattleweed Protection Tract in Wayne and Brantley counties, and the 267-acre Altamaha River Forestland Protection Property in Appling County. The former has the largest documented population of hairy rattleweed, federally listed as endangered and known to exist worldwide only in these two Georgia counties. The latter adds to Moody Forest, contributing to a 183,500-acre corridor of conservation lands along the Altamaha.
Both tracts are longstanding priority acquisitions of Georgia DNR. The agency is working to make them available for public recreation such as hunting, fishing, birding and hiking, with plans to open sometime in 2020.
“This conservation project not only protects the hairy rattleweed, a globally unique plant found only in coastal Georgia, but also creates new local public access to the outdoors,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI. “OSI is proud to have contributed to the protection of these significant properties, and we thank our partners the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Knobloch Family Foundation, and Rayonier for their tireless efforts to protect the state’s natural resources.”
Dr. Jon Ambrose, Chief of DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section, said the acquisitions “further the goal of conservation of native species and natural habitats articulated in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan.” “Under management by the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia DNR, these tracts