by Gabe Andrle, Habitat Program Manager
Recently, Georgia Audubon’s habitat team loaded up tools, supplies, and food onto a local fishing guide’s boat for a trip up the Chattahoochee River to Buzzard Roost Island in Fulton County. The team set out to begin work on one of five sites the team will be working on as part of the greater Chattahoochee RiverLands, an initiative of the Trust for Public Land connecting greenspaces from Lake Lanier to Chattahoochee Bend State Park. The trip up the river included sightings of Wood Ducks, cormorants, and migrants like Northern Parula and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, along with the elusive American mink. The five sites the team will be working on will be part of a camp and paddle trail that will allow folks to paddle from Standing Peachtree Park in Atlanta to McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County and camp along the way. With the Chattahoochee being an incredibly valuable resource for migratory birds, Georgia Audubon is excited to be able to provide habitat restoration and improvement services to this initiative.
In addition to the work at Buzzard Roost, the team has begun woody-invasive plant management at Campbellton Park, in Chattahoochee Hills. The park is a great place for migratory warblers and a favorite Bird Fest event locale. The Campbellton Park project, combined with an additional project at RiverLands Park, will allow more public access to the river. To help with this new and exciting work, the team has welcomed a new Habitat Program Coordinator, Sebastian Hagan, and Logan Jones, habitat program specialist. Both team members have hit the ground running, helping out with field work and volunteer workdays at other restoration sites.
At the Island Ford Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) the team has been enjoying the spectacle of more than 500 recently-installed native plants coming to life. In recent weeks, the team has transitioned from planting into management of the space with the help of many volunteers. This wonderful, small Georgia Audubon-certified pollinator garden outside of the visitor center is the perfect place to connect with pollinators and native plants. We hope that folks will be able to emulate some of what they see in this garden in their own yards, gardens, or greenspaces and get certified through our Wildlife Sanctuary Program.
Flying south, the team is gearing up for more site preparation and invasive plant management on Jekyll Island to build on the maritime grassland work the team has already started in partnership with the Jekyll Island Authority, Coastal Georgia Audubon, and others. During a January 2023 volunteer workday, staff and dozens of volunteers installed more than 30,000 native muhly grass plugs to jumpstart the valuable grassland and pollinator habitat. With the support of the Georgia Ornithological Society, Georgia Audubon is working on a few more acres of connected habitat to strengthen the connectivity and quality of the unique coastal grassland that hosts Loggerhead Shrikes, American Kestrels, Painted Buntings, and a variety of other migratory species.
In addition, the habitat team continues to work on sites such as Panola Mountain State Park’s native meadows and riparian forests, the Little Creek Horse Farm’s pollinator meadow, and others. Be on the lookout for more volunteer opportunities in the coming months to get connected with our new sites and revisit and learn about our current sites.
To learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities and habitat restoration workdays, please visit our volunteer page.
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