Fort Stewart/Altamaha Partnership - A Partnership within our Partnership Wins Inaugural Conservation Award!

February 12, 2015 Image 1 Altamaha River Thumb

By Randy Tate, The Longleaf Alliance

The Townsend Bombing Range, owned and operated by the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, SC, lies along the Altamaha River in the Georgia counties of McIntosh and Long.  Over several years a partnership has worked to buffer the military installation while adding thousands of acres to state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).  This marriage of military mission and wildlife conservation was just recognized for its exemplary work.  The Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team and retired Brigadier General Bob Barnes were awarded the first Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation in September 2014.  The Team consisted of the Marine Corps Air Station, GA DNR, and the GA Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, all steering committee members of the larger Ft. Stewart/Altamaha Longleaf Restoration Partnership.

The land protection that has been done protects the lower section of the Altamaha River and creates connections between existing WMAs.  The Townsend WMA in Long County is in the heart of the Ft. Stewart/Altamaha boundary and is one of the areas protected by the Encroachment Partnering Team.  Through funding from the NFWF's LSF, this 6,714-acre tract that had much of the upland in sandpine, is now being converted to longleaf pine. Townsend WMA protects unique sand ridges found along the northeast banks of the Altamaha.  These sand ridges provide habitat for gopher tortoises and indigo snakes.  The bottomland hardwoods within the WMA provide nesting habitat for Swallow-tailed Kites and Bald Eagles.

Image 1:  Aerial view of the Altamaha River.  Photo by Georgia DNR.

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