Georgia-Alabama Land TrustSpring 2018 Newsletter

Spring is the time for new beginnings and new awakenings. At the Georgia-Alabama land Trust, we look forward to another year that brings more landowners, land professionals, and environmentalists to our mission of protecting land for present and future generations.

Georgia Alabama Land Trust Spring

Spotted On Site

At the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, members of our stewardship team, already conducting the first of their annual site visits to over 1,000 easement holdings, are privileged to be among the first to welcome some of spring’s earliest harbingers.

Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge

We know winter is waning when we hear the sound of sandhill cranes migrating northward from Florida on the way to their breeding grounds in the Great Lakes and Canada. In the 1990s, sandhill cranes began visiting two wildlife refuges within their southeastern fly zone: Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alabama near Decatur, and Hiawassee State Wildlife Refuge in Birchwood, Tennessee. Because these refuges provide safe productive areas to feed and rest, the number of cranes visiting them have increased from a trickle of birds in the 1990s to thousands today. Several of our GALT Land Stewards visited the Hiawassee Refuge northeast of Chattanooga in late winter to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds and to learn how to recognize and help protect their habitat on easement lands within their fly zone.

Photograph by Amy Gaddy. (view gallery)

Don’t Tread on Me

Early spring weather often draws both venomous and non-venomous stakes into the open to warm in the sun. The cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) is a large, heavy-bodied venomous snake species native to the coastal plains of Georgia, also frequently known as the water moccasin. This snake gets its name from the bright white interior of its mouth, which it exposes in the defensive display seen here. Though they can be active throughout the winter this far south in their range, these—much like other cold-blooded reptile species—can be encountered more frequently as winter gives way to the warmer temperatures of spring which allow them to thermoregulate and become more mobile, expanding their territories and searching for prey and potential mates.

Photograph carefully taken by Land Steward Drew Ruttinger.

In Bloom

Late February and early March are ideal times to spot the yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum), seen recently in cheerful abundance on a protected easement in southwest Georgia. Wildflowers such as these are called “spring ephemerals,” often occurring in waves of blooms across the forest floor in early spring before trees leaf out and create dense shade. This perennial wildflower is also known as the dogtooth violet, because of the toothlike shape of its underground bulb. Since it belongs to the lily family and is not a violet, many think the reference to its leaves, which resemble the markings of a trout, more suitable. Although the trout lily is considered a common flower in its range, it is becoming increasingly rare to see large colonies of this natural perennial in its native woodland habitat because of development.

Photographed by Betsy Crosby.

Learn and Burn

Recently, seven Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Land Stewards attended one of ALPFC’s “Learn and Burn” programs to see a controlled burn in action and learn more about how prescribed fire can not only help prevent destructive wildfires, but can serve as a cost-effective tool for land management. READ MORE





Conservation Easements: Management Tools for Working Lands

Purpose/About the Course 
The purpose of this course is to provide a working knowledge of conservation easements as a land-use control. It provides guidance on drafting conservation easement agreements to achieve landowner goals for their property. Land Trusts discuss their philosophy of land use protection and what they can offer landowners. This course offers a comprehensive overview of legal, appraisal, base line information, tax incentives, and other inputs needed for a successful conservation easement agreement.

The objective is to provide guidance for attendees in reaching a sustainable agreement for protecting forest land. A framework is offered for analyzing protection goals for reaching a successful agreement in the context of legal constraints and tax incentives.
You will learn:

  • How easements affect land use
  • The advantages/disadvantages of easements
  • Which agencies and organizations can accept easements
  • Tax aspects of easements
  • How to plan for an easement

Who Will Benefit?
Landowners with an interest in protecting their forest property from development or other exploitation should attend.  Foresters, accountants, attorneys, appraisers, and wildlife resource managers who work with landowners will benefit.

Land Management Planning Workshops

March – May 2018

To help our easement holders with their land management plans, required in many conservation easements, Georgia-Alabama Land Trust offers land management workshops in a number of locations throughout Georgia and Alabama. Our workshops in Albany and Rome were conducted this past February, four more remain in 2018: Atlanta, Savannah, Tuscaloosa and Piedmont. Each workshop lasts from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. If you are already working with a natural resource professional to complete your plan, you do not need to attend.


March 21, 2018 – Atlanta, GA Lorrie Stafford’s house, 1708 Fernleaf Circle, Atlanta, GA 30318 <br

April 11, 2018 – Savannah, GA GALT Office 428 Bull Street Suite 201, Savannah, GA 31401 <br

May 9, 2018 – Tuscaloosa, AL JMF Office 2200 Jack Warner Parkway Suite 300, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 <br

May 23, 2018 – Piedmont, AL GALT Office, 426 Old Ladiga Road, Piedmont, AL 36272 <br

TIME: 9:30 AM until 5:00 PM, local time.
Preregistration is required and appointments are preferred so that we are able to make the process as
quick and easy as possible for you. Please register one week prior to desired workshop.
TO REGISTER: Contact Jamie Williamson at 256.447.1006 or Amy Gaddy

Our Merger is Complete!

After more than 10 years of dedicated efforts to protect open land in the important Chattahoochee Valley area of Georgia and Alabama, our affiliate, the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust, voted to merge with the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, effective December 31, 2017. Going forward, land protection and stewardship activities will continue in much the same way as they have for the past decade. By merging, a significant amount of time and expense that is otherwise needed to maintain two separate non-profits will be saved. Our combined conservation efforts now total 370,000 acres of open space – making us the largest, regional nonprofit conservation easement holder of private lands in the Southeast.