More than 6,300 new acres at the Canoochee Sandhills Wildlife Management Area, located in Bulloch and Bryan Counties, is now available for southeast Georgia outdoor enthusiasts, thanks to the partnership efforts of multiple agencies and Foundations.
“Securing this piece of property provides an opportunity to continue to make efforts to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem, and return prescribed fire to the landscape, along with providing a new location for Georgians to hunt,” says Georgia DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. “This property could not have been obtained without all of the amazing partnerships that we find ourselves so fortunate to work with.”
The Canoochee Sandhills WMA is a mix of sandhill, flatwoods, bay swamp, and floodplain forest, including fire-adapted uplands and flatwoods, and frequently-saturated wetlands, including floodplains that border Lotts Creek, a major tributary of the Canoochee River and a large swamp knowns as Bulloch Bay. Many of the sandy uplands on the property are remnants of ancient wind-blown river dune formations, and provide important habitat for the gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake.
“This is a perfect example of how land conservation provides benefits to people and wildlife, including new public recreational opportunities, protection for gopher tortoises, longleaf pine forest restoration and local economic support,” said Andrew Schock, Georgia state director at The Conservation Fund. “The Fund is honored to assist the State and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in the protection of more than half of the acreage for the new WMA, and we applaud Georgia's U.S. congressional delegation for federal funding support.”
The Canoochee Sandhills WMA land was previously owned by several different landowners, including The Conservation Fund, the Warnell Family, the Bunce Family, and Weyerhaeuser.
The Canoochee Sandhills WMA was purchased utilizing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant, a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Acres for America (WalMart) grant, the National Wild Turkey Federation, State of Georgia bond funds, Knobloch Family Foundation and Bobolink Foundation funds associated with the Georgia Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative, and The Conservation Fund. Additionally, a conservation easement placed on The Conservation Fund property through the Natural Resources Conservation Service reduced the purchase price by $1.5 million.
Management of the WMA will focus on recreational opportunities and restoring the longleaf pine ecosystem.