Working on a five-year environmental enhancement project
Five-year environmental enhancement project
This property was donated to STPAL via a fee simple deed transfer in 2016. The 315-acre property is in southeastern Douglas County, GA, and is bisected by Anneewakee Creek.
In 2019, the site began a five-year environmental enhancement project. The first stage is thinning or clearing several sections of the existing forest. We have to subtract before we can add. The negative impact of a timber harvest is obvious since many trees are gone plus the dirt is disturbed. Efforts beyond what is typical are being done to diminish the impact visually and otherwise. But the harvest areas are heavily damaged for the short term.
The following are the timber harvest related benefits to STPAL’s mission:
The income from the timber harvest will produce much-needed funds for the organization. However, the timber harvest would still be the right action even if there was no related income. We own millions of dollars of trees that could be harvested to fund environmental restoration and new park building. But we do not harvest natural high functioning forests. They have the most valuable trees for revenue but also the most value for being left alone. So, we leave them alone. This tract will benefit greatly from the harvest and replanting.
Timber prices are higher than they’ve been in recent history. We needed to clear a greater area around the solar panels in order to maximize their clean energy production. STPAL has no association with or income from the solar array. But we appreciate its environmental benefits. This is the final harvest due to the pending park status. It will now be a naturally self-sustaining healthy forest.
There is a 200’-foot buffer of no harvesting along the waterways. There are also no harvest areas ranging up to 30 acres each. Many of these are the steepest terrain. These undisturbed zones have enough size to absorb some of the disturbed wildlife. Much of the harvest is what we call a conservation-minded final cut. It skews towards conservation, but its final cut status and the planned replanting are also considered. For example, we are completely clearing 25-50 acres to replant in longleaf pine. We also plan to have native grass areas, food forest and permaculture elements, native plants throughout the property, and wildlife supportive items. Support items include bat houses, butterfly houses, chimney swift towers, apiary, milkweed plots, platforms, perches, bee hotels, and the list can go on. Our forestry consultant reported that the pines had reached most of their potential in terms of growth and carbon sequestration. The replant growth will be an oxygen factory once it gets going. The property will have a profound positive impact on the environment and community long past its boundaries. Timber harvest revenue will help fund this work.
The property is now in the first stages of planning for public use. The public usage might include hiking, nature observation, mountain biking, bird watching, geocaching, and similar low-impact quiet enjoyment of nature activities. The timber roads and loading areas make for good parking areas and access routes for the future park. There will be public meetings and a local group formed to assist in the planning, creation, and care of the park. It will be owned by our organization but have local control. There is a possibility that it could be donated to Douglas county if that will best serve the public interest. The initial focus will be the environmental work with park building 2-3 years away. The park will be free for typical public usage. See Talking Rock Nature Preserve as an example of our work.
The property will have interpretive signage placed among its many unique elements. For example, the chimney swift tower will have a 3’ x 5’ 3-sided kiosk with the following topics: chimney swifts and their towers, backyard birding, and typical birds for the area. The unique elements of the nature preserve will be useful for demonstrating how individuals can help the environment. The property will be available for community groups to visit and learn. It will be available for Eagle and Gold Award projects.
Some neighbors are curious, others are understanding of the process, and some are very mad over the timber harvest. We regret the short-term aggravation and look forward to the results being the final judge.
There is the possibility that some minor amount of land could be sold for development. People like to live near a beautiful nature preserve and park. We might need funds beyond what funds we can raise to build the park. This possibility is included here because it is a possibility and we are an open and honest organization.
General property information
The property is along Anneewakee Creek in the Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding drainage basin. This tract consists of mixed pine and hardwood woodland and is generally bounded by subdivisions and rural woodland tracts. The property is roughly bisected by Anneewakee Creek. The tract would originally have consisted of a mix of upland hardwood and upland pine on the uplands trending into a mesic hardwood forest and bottomland hardwood forest along the stream drains. The most distinctive features of the Property are the slopes and drains leading to and joining Anneewakee Creek. The Property is approximately 87% wooded. The remainder is a watercourse or electric ROW.
This Property has most recently been devoted to mixed timber and was being held for possible park construction or development. During historical times, small-scale timber, livestock, and row crop production occurred. Currently, the Property is used for casual outdoor recreation, natural landscape protection, and timber production. No recent evidence of timber harvest was noted. A portion (approx. 20 acres) of this parcel was retained by the previous landowner to convert to a solar energy production farm.