Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is conserving and restoring habitats, to prevent extinction of indigenous plants and animals.
Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan lists 349 animal and 290 plant species as high priorities for conservation. This conversation strategy was created in 2005 and revised in 2015. It involves more than 100 organizations, universities and landowners and led by DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.
The revised conservation focuses on the neediest species. It advises effective means to keep native wildlife, plants and habitats from disappearing. Some of these habitats, such as our sand dunes are costly to restore.
DNR and the Southeast At-Risk Species Initiative:
The Initiative aims to tackle game-changers like wildlife diseases, altered fire regimes and climate change. It provides resources and coordination to conserve wildlife and stop the progression of climate change. Conservation Teamwork DNR is a partner in Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA). The agreements with the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service and others identify threats to at-risk species and address the them in an efficient manner.
- Georgia aster, a candidate for federal listing since 1999, was not added to the Endangered Species Act list. One reason why: DNR and others signed a CCA to protect and enhance this rare wildflower in 2014. The Fish and Wildlife Service referred to the CCA in deciding not to list the species.
- Through another CCA, DNR is working to keep the gopher tortoise, our state reptile, off the Endangered Species list. This includes treating 172,000 acres to restore key habitats across multiple states. In
Georgia, the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative has helped increase to nearly 50 the number of protected tortoise populations, an effort covering 43,000 acres – land open to hunters, hikers and others.
- In 2016, DNR signed a CCA with power companies, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and others to conserve sicklefin redhorse. For a fish found in six counties worldwide, conserving spawning habitat in north Georgia’s Brasstown Creek is critical. The CCA was a factor in the decision that federal listing was not warranted.
Why This Matters:
Wildlife and wild places are important to Georgians’ way of life and our economy. About 2.4 million people spent more than $1.8 billion watching wildlife in our state in 2011. Conserving rare species and restoring their habitats helps ensure future generations will be able to enjoy them, too. This effort also contributes to clean water and healthy forests. Georgia has many success stories. Here’s one:
Bald eagle populations are soaring. DNR aerial surveys in 2018 documented more than 120 active nests in the eastern half of the state. Surveys of the entire state counted 200-plus nests the previous three years. Yet in 1970, Georgia had no known nests. The agency also works with landowners to manage nest sites.