The 8,298 acres protected by conservation easements held by ALT are diverse in size, habitat, and location throughout the state. These properties are located in 20 counties and in 9 of Georgia’s 14 watersheds. These lands include natural habitats and river frontage in addition to working agricultural land and land of historical significance. Many of these tracts connect with other protected land, as we work to create corridors adjacent to national forest, wildlife management areas, and land protected by other land trusts.
In July 2013, local Oconee farm family, Buddy & Kathy Shelnutt, preserved their property in North Oconee County. The Land Trust working closely with Russ Page, local farmer and advocate, and the Oconee Partnership for Farmland Protection to secure funding for local farms from USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Oconee County’s SPLOST Program provided funding to pay the family for their development rights. This Conservation Easement protects 42 acres of the Shelnutt family farm.
The Shelnutts are looking forward to their son taking over full operation of the farm, with their grandchildren’s help. Kathy says, “The farm has been in our family since 1892, and our grandchildren are the 5th generation living on the farm. Watching them gain an appreciation for the land was one of the determining factors of our decision to preserve our farm.” The family has discussed creating a ‘You Pick’ Farm for the community. Since the Shelnutt farm is adjacent to the Boulder Springs Subdivision, which is protected by a conservation easement held by the Oconee River Land Trust, more than 180 acres of contiguous conservation land will now be preserved in perpetuity.
Lost Mountain 2
In May 2013, the remaining portion of the Lost Mountain property was protected with a Conservation Easement, protecting an additional 133 acres in Cobb County. This generous donation by Raymond M. Reed and family, along with partners Trust for Public Land, National Park Service (American Battlefield Protection Program), DNR and Piedmont Land Trust. Together, these two Conservation Easements now preserve 152 acres of Civil War battlefield site and amazing mature Oak-Hickory sloped forest. The Lost Mountain property will be open to the public.
Tallassee 2 Property
Taylor Glover donated a conservation easement on 56 acres in Athens-Clarke County that includes significant areas of mature holly forest with rare butterflies and moths and steep oak-hickory slopes with many native wildflowers. This tract is part of 542 protected acres along the Middle Oconee River. Mr. Glover protected 176 acres of the property in 2011 and worked with many partners so that 310 acres are now county-owned greenspace.
Green 2 Property
David and Kay Green have preserved 1,223 acres of forest land along 2 miles of the Ocmulgee River near Macon in Jones County. The property preserves land that has been in the family for several generations. This property contains major tributaries to the river including 5.5 miles of Butler’s Creek. The landowners can continue to manage the forest as long as wide riparian buffers are preserved. This is the second tract protected by the Green family (1,162 acres was protected in 2011). These properties are adjacent to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. John Odom has preserved 1,050 acres of working forests and natural forest along black-water streams and forested wetlands for more than 4 miles in Crisp County. This property contains high-priority habitats including longleaf pine wiregrass savannas and extensive habitat for the gopher tortoise, a federally-protected species. The land has been in the Odom Family for over 140 years. The family can continue some agriculture while also preserving the important conservation values in this farming community in Middle Georgia.*A partnership with the Georgia Conservancy
Chase Street Property
Virginia and Carrol Beavers have protected 49 acres in Athens-Clarke County (behind the Boulevard Neighborhood). The property includes streams that flow into the North Oconee River and an informal network of bike trails. The landowners are generously allowing Athens Land Trust to provide public access for the community with walking and biking trails and an urban farm.
Bear Creek Property
Lewis Scruggs and Mike Gautreaux have donated a conservation easement to preserve 243 acres of natural forest and wetlands, including 1.6 miles along Bear Creek and Little Bear Creek in Athens-Clarke and Jackson Counties. This property is located just downstream from the Bear Creek Reservoir and protects our community’s drinking water. The landowners will continue to use the property for hunting and passive recreation.
Nancy Stangle has preserved 18 acres of mature oak-hickory forest with a major tributary to the Middle Oconee River. Located in Athens-Clarke County, this property connects with 581 acres of protected forest land (including 39 acres in the Kenney Ridge neighborhood and the 542-acre Tallassee property mentioned on page 4). These 600 acres are across the Middle Oconee River from the 243-acre Bear Creek conservation easement and together form a large and unique natural area benefitting the Athens community in many ways.
Kevin York and family have preserved 36 acres of mature hardwood forest and .5 miles along Shoal Creek in Oconee County near the eastside of Athens. The landowner has his family home on the property and retains the right for passive recreation, but is giving up the ability to develop more residences on the property. This project preserves very important habitat along Shoal Creek that flows to the Oconee River nearby. There are many important native woodland species on the property including blue bottle gentian.
Lost Mountain Property
A local family has donated 19 acres of historically important land in Cobb County. This property is part of a larger preservation project that will protect a total of 150 acres with Civil War earthworks near Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The tract also provides scenic viewshed preservation of Lost Mountain, and protects important habitats of mature oak-hickory sloped forest including a hillside of native buckeye species and a major stream in this urban community of Powder Springs.
John Geary has preserved 603 acres of working forest and hunting land in Jones County adjacent to the Cedar Creek Wildlife Management Area. More than 160 acres of wetlands and oak-hickory forest are protected along the streams. The managed pine area is habitat for wild turkey and deer and contains important native grass and wildflower species. This land is adjacent to another conservation easement protecting 1,000 acres of hardwood forest and wetlands.
The Hinton family has preserved 108 acres of natural forest in Spalding and Henry Counties. The tract has a mile of frontage on the Towaliga River and also contains important streams, bottomland forest, and wetlands. Protection of this tract helps to preserve the community’s water supply. The landowners will continue to enjoy hunting and recreation on the property, which has horse trails that connect to miles of public trails.*A partnership with the Georgia Conservancy
Longleaf Preserve Property
The Raptis family has donated 814 acres in Meriwether County, preserving hardwood draws and bottomland forest along almost 3 miles of blue line streams, including Flat Creek and tributaries of Coleman Creek. The property is used primarily for timber, hay production and deer hunting. The viewsheds from the community’s two main roads are maintained, preserving the scenic rural character.
The McLeod family has preserved their family farm which is 474 acres of mostly agricultural fields, and has natural forest along the streams and draws. This farm is located in Wilcox County and contains 410 acres of prime and important farmland soils. This land provides wildlife habitat and scenic views for this agricultural community by preserving fields of crops and diversity of native species in the forest area.
Brent Dooly Farm
Bob Rolander has protected 326 acres of natural forest and farmland in Dooly County that includes 1.5 miles of Jallapo Branch. This is a major stream in the area and the easement preserves important native grasses and other riparian species in order to protect water quality and plant and wildlife habitats. The easement also preserves 242 acres of prime and important farmland soils for future agricultural use.
John Martin and family have preserved 48 acres of hardwood forest on Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County. The property protects the water quality of Lake Blue Ridge and the scenic viewshed for users of the adjacent Chattahoochee National Forest. The family will continue to partner with the US Forest Service to manage the forest for preservation of native tree, shrub, and groundlayer vegetation with periodic burns.*A partnership with the Georgia Conservancy
Landowner Ray DeMott has donated a conservation easement preserving 199 acres of managed forest and wetlands along .5 miles of the Little Ogeechee River, with black-water cypress knee swamps. This property contains many important native grasses and wetland species that provide habitat for herons, egrets, and other bird species. The property is close to downtown Meldrim in Effiingham County.
This 64-acre oak-hickory forest is right off Interstate 85 just outside the small historic town of Carnesville, in Franklin County. The conservation easement allows very limited development and protects a substantial wetland with creeks and riparian buffers. The easement protects water quality and plant and animal resources.
An easement of 176 acres along the Middle Oconee River preserves amazing Oak-Hickory-Beech forest and areas where Native American artifacts have been found. The property has several pristine creeks, steep slopes, and mature forest, and is located in Athens-Clarke County. According to aerial photos from the 1930′s, most of the protected area was forested at that time, which was rare for this area of Georgia.
The Green family has conserved 1200 acres of their 3rd generation family land which has major streams flowing into the nearby Ocmulgee River. They will continue to manage their land for hunting and timber, while preserving the bottomland forest and native habitats. This easement is located in Jones County and fills a hole in the Chattahoochee –Oconee National Forest.
The Bronikowski family has conserved 120 acres of local farm and forest land along Little Toccoa Creek, an important trout stream. This land can be viewed from Mt Currahee and is within the Chattahoochee National Forest in Stephens County.
Andrew Seng and partners have preserved 110 acres that encompass the northern portion of Berrong Mountain. This mature Oak-Hickory forest connects to the Appalachian Trail and slopes to important trout streams in the adjacent Wildlife Management Areas in the Oconee National Forest. The property is located in Towns County.
Protecting 110 acres adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Mt. Burton easement is ALT’s first in Habersham County. The steeply sloping property includes beautiful oak-pine forest, ferny glades, and masses of rhododendrons. The owners reserved the right to build two cabins on two small areas that were already disturbed. The property drains into Shoal Creek, a trout stream and local source of drinking water.
This easement protects the 167-acre Burdett family farm, located just east of historic Washington in Wilkes County, along Upton Creek, a major tributary to the Savannah River. The farm has been in the Burdett family since the early 1800s, and contains the grave site of Revolutionary War veteran Abram Simon. The Burdett family placed the conservation easement on the farm with the goal of using ecological land and forestry management practices on the property that has previously been managed for loblolly pine in a more conventional manner.
ALT’s first easement in Barrow County protects 31.5 acres of beautiful wetlands, lake, and forest. The easement was donated by Dr. Jagdish Sheth of Barrow Holdings, LLC. The protected lake is important as a water supply for the city of Statham.
The easement on the Hillsman Farm in Oconee County protects 30 acres of prime farmland that are part of the larger Hillsman tract. The farmland was protected with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Oconee County. The landowner, Charles Hillsman, donated a fourth of the value of the easement.
On September 24, 2008, 168 acres of farmland in Walton County were protected with an agricultural conservation easement. Since 1968, Dale Wiley has been farming the land that his grandparents bought as sharecroppers in 1919. The Wiley farm produces hay and cattle, and Dale works hard to protect the water quality of the creeks on the farm. There is a Revolutionary War-era grave on the property also. An easement protecting 50 acres was purchased with funds from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Georgia Land Conservation Program. In addition, Dale donated an easement protecting the remaining 118 acres of the farm.
Clay Bryant donated a conservation easement to protect 59 acres of forest and farmland in Oconee County. The property has a small pond and diverse habitat. This property has some diverse sloped forest filled with many large hardwood trees and native woodland species. The land is only a couple of properties from the House Farm which has 50 acres protected for farming. One of ALT’s goals is to connect greenspace for the benefit of wildlife and water quality. We are currently working with the UGA Land Use Clinic to map existing greenspace and important natural resources to target for protection.
A beautiful tract of land along the North Oconee River in Athens-Clarke County has been permanently protected by a conservation easement. Carl and Carmen Jordan have placed an easement on 13 acres of sloping oak and hickory forest with riparian areas in Athens-Clarke County. This land is surrounded by subdivisions so it is especially important habitat to have protected.
Mitchell Farm Receives First State Grant for Conservation
On December 1, 2006, the very first Georgia Land Conservation Porgram (GLCP) grants were announced by Governor Sonny Perdue. The highest-ranking recipient was an application prepared jointly by ALT, the Oconee Partnership for Farmland Protection, and Oconee County. The $467,000 grant was used to provide the 25% match to protect 190 acres of farmland owned by Sam Mitchell. Half of the funding was provided by the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program as well as a portion from Oconee County and a donation by Mr. Mitchell.
The permanent easement was dedicated on November 28th, 2007 with NRCS State Director James Tillman, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, and Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis.
91.5 acres of Oconee County farmland is protected with 2 easements through the USDA NRCS Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, with matching funds provided by Oconee County. The landowners, Rickey and Kay House, also donated 25% of the easements’ value. Part of a 200-acre farm, the easement property is used by the House family for cattle and hay.
63.6 acres of prime farmland in Athens-Clarke County protected through the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Athens-Clarke County Greenspace Acquisition Program funded by SPLOST. This conservation easement ensures that the land will be available for agricultural uses in perpetuity. NRCS provided 50% of the funds to purchase the easement, with Athens-Clarke County providing 25%, and the landowner, Mrs. George Langdale, donating 25%.
30 acres of hardwoods and pines as part of Pinecrest neighborhood in Athens-Clarke County. Recently, UGA Landscape Architecture students assisted the Pinecrest Neighborhood Association with an outreach project in the neighborhood.
This easement protects 29 acres of land in Athens-Clarke County, including a swamp, seeps, an oak-hickory forest, stream corridors and pastureland. The easement was placed on the property by the original owner and then sold to a conservation buyer, an individual interested in buying land with protected conservation values.
An easement protects an undeveloped lot in the Boulevard Historic District of Athens. After a tornado irreparably damaged a house on Boulevard, the owner donated an easement on the lot for the establishment of a neighborhood park. The lot contains an historic rock wall and provides intown greenspace for birds and small mammals.
Milford Hills was the first conservation subdivision ALT has helped protect. A conservation subdivision is a residential neighborhood that incorporates greenspace for outdoor recreation and natural resource protection. A conservation easement protects 23 acres of predominately hardwood forest in the Milford Hills community in Athens-Clarke County. This mature forest buffers two streams that flow into the North Oconee River and includes rock outcrops, waterfalls and a diverse understory. This forest is open to all residents of the Milford Hills community.
Three easements protect 38.6 acres in this western Athens-Clarke County neighborhood. One easement protects 17 acres of mature upland hardwood forest, with rock outcroppings and two springs that flow into the Middle Oconee River. A second tract of 4.6 acres has magnificent hundred-year old oaks with old-field and edge habitat. The third tract has 17 acres of mature hardwoods and some old field habitat. This land serves as an important greenspace for the surrounding neighborhood.
Five Acre Woods
This urban forest, which is home to large hardwood trees and an important bird habitat, is located one mile north of downtown just off North Ave. Five Acre Woods was purchased by Athens-Clarke County with Georgia Greenspace funds and is a county park. In addition, the Athens Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the tract to further ensure its protection as a natural park. The Over The River Neighborhood has been working to remove exotic vegetation and replant with rescued native plant species. There are walking trails through the park, which is accessible to all.
Bowden Park is a conservation subdivision located two miles west of downtown Athens. ALT holds an easement that protects 17 acres of hardwoods and old fields. This area of the subdivision has been used for years as a passive recreation park. The easement protects land around a pond that the neighborhood uses for fishing and picnicking. An unimproved trail around the lake also provides walking and birding opportunities.
The Powers/Breedlove family of Oconee County has conserved an additional 76 acres of their historic family farm located on Colham Ferry Road. Great-grandson Will Powers is currently growing organic produce and rearing livestock including cattle for ‘grass fed beef’. The additional acreage was protected with funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Oconee County SPLOST program, and a donation of the Powers family.
Fifty-seven acres of prime Oconee County farmland are now permanently preserved as farmland with a conservation easement. ALT received a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) as well as Oconee County Greenspace funds, to purchase the conservation easement from the owners of the farm. The owners also donated a portion of the value of the easement. The tract is part of a 200-acre, fourth-generation family farm that includes a pecan grove, historic farmhouse, and outbuildings.
The conservation easement on this farm protects a small stream and wetland, a scenic hay field and grove of pecan trees. The owners of the Breedlove Farm have worked with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to fence the cattle out of the streams and this farm was recognized as the top protection priority by the Oconee County Partnership for Farmland Protection (OPFP). This particular combination of federal, state, and local funds to purchase the agricultural conservation easement was a first for the State of Georgia. The easement is the result of years of effort by OPFP and hopefully will be the beginning of an active farmland preservation movement in Oconee County, which has some of the best agricultural soils in the state and a viable farming community.