Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
Fall 2010           

Dear Junior Ranger,
Georgia has many unique natural places to explore.  In this issue we visit wetlands and learn about a few of the creatures that live in Georgia's swamps and bogs.  Wetlands provide valuable wildlife habitat and they are my very favorite places to explore. 
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks
Also in this Issue:
* Cool Critter Contest
* Meet a Park Ranger
* Alligators
* Wading Birds
* Pitcher Plants 

* Fall Fun
Cool Critter

Can you identify this cool Georgia critter?
Correctly identify this animal by Nov. 2 and be entered to win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.
Meet a Park Ranger

David Burke, an interpretive ranger at Roosevelt's Little White House State Historic Site helps visitors learn about President F. D. Roosevelt.. At Junior Ranger camp he  teaches children how to make their own wooden boats because FDR loved sailing . 

Do you think YOU might want to be an Interpretive Ranger when you grow up?  David shares his background in this special interview for Junior Rangers.

What inspired you to become a ranger?
I love the outdoors and I enjoy talking to  people - both kids and adults.

What are your job responsibilities?
I set up activities, events and programs  at the Little White House to enhance our guests' visit.

What do you like most about your job?
I like to make make history come alive for our visitors.  I also enjoy connecting with people and getting involved with our guests.  I have met and talked with visitors from all over the world. 

What advice would you give a Junior Ranger who may be interested in becoming a ranger when they grow up?
As you earn Junior Ranger badges you get to meet rangers at each park that you visit.   Get to know those park rangers and stay in touch.  Let us rangers help and encourage you along the way. 

What did you study in college that helped you become a ranger? 
My classes in history were helpful in my job.  It was my interest in our history that helped to direct my career. 

Keep an eye out for the Junior Ranger camp at the Little White House.  The 2011 dates are being set now. 
Curious Find

Albino Raccoon
Sim Davidson, Park Manager at Little Ocmulgee State Park, found and photographed this albino raccoon in the park during his nightly rounds.  It is frequently seen near the lakefront at night.
Stay on the Trail
At Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites we abide by Leave No Trace principles.  These guiding principles help us protect the natural places that we love and preserve them for others to enjoy too!

Leave No Trace principles tell us to Hike Only on Durable Surfaces .  Durable surfaces can withstand foot traffic. 

When you visit our State Parks you should stay on the trails.  If there is not a trail other good durable surfaces include dry grass, rocks, sand and gravel.  Even if the trail is muddy a hiker should walk through the puddle and not around it.  You should avoid walking on young plants, moss, wet grass and lichen covered rocks.

This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
Learn More

Visit your local library and check out these titles:
* Hungry Plants by Mary Batten
*  Snap! A Book About Alligators and Crocodiles by Melvin Berger
* Wetlands: Bogs, Marshes and Swamps by Lewis Buck
Photo credits:

Masthead: Linda Patrick
Fall Hayride: Harris Hatcher
Photo of David Burke: Cindy Reittinger
Raccoon: Sim Davidson

State Parks Logo
Wet & Wild
Exploring Georgia's Wetlands

Wetlands are places where the land is covered by shallow water.  In Georgia this includes swamps, bogs, marshes, and temporary pools that dry up in the summer.

In this photo you can see a mirror image of cypress trees reflected in the black water of a swamp.

Test Your Wetland IQ
True or False?
  • Georgia is home to one of the most famous wetlands in the world - the Okefenokee Swamp. 
  • Temporary pools that dry up in summer provide valuable habitat to salamanders and other wildlife.
  • Although the Georgia coastline is only 100 miles long it represents the largest stretch of marsh along the east coast.
  • Wetlands clean and filter our water and protect our shores from storms.
  • Georgia's bogs are home to plants that eat bugs.
Congratulations if you said ALL of the above are true statements - you are correct!
American Alligator
In Georgia alligators are found only in the bottom half of the state.  They live in swamps and marshes as well as rivers and lakes.
Alligators are a conservation success story.  In the 1960's their numbers were low and they were protected as an endangered species.  By 1987 their numbers had grown so much they were removed from total protection.  By 2003 they were so abundant in Georgia that an annual hunting season was established.

Things to do:
* Listen and watch an alligator bellowing
* Alligator coloring pages
* Play Lost In the Wetland game

Wading Birds
Long legs help wading birds get a better view as they stand in shallow water looking for food.  Herons and egrets watch patiently until they see something to eat and then quickly snatch it with their sharp bills.  The wood stork has a specialized feeding technique - it moves its partially-opened bill back in forth in the water.  When its bill touches a fish or other food it quickly snaps closed.

Wading Birds Matching Game
Match the pictures of Georgia wading birds above with the correct name:  Green Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Wood Stork.  Submit your answers to the Chief Naturalist and  have your name entered in a drawing to win an Okefenokee Swamp DVD.
Pitcher plants live in wetlands.   They attract and "eat" insects to supplement their diet.  Their specialized leaves are shaped like "pitchers" and hold water.  The plant secretes chemicals to digest the insects that fall into its pitcher. 

We have seven different kinds of pitcher plants in Georgia's wetlands.  This includes the Hooded Pitcher Plant (the Cool Critter pictured in the Summer E-News) as well as the Purple Pitcher plant (shown here) which lives in the mountain bogs of north Georgia.

 Things to do:
* Wetland Wildlife Word Search
* Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see their large collection of Pitcher Plants.
* Wading Bird Match above
* Watch a Great Egret feeding
* Take a walk and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

Fall Fun!
Enjoy the fall leaf color at a State Park
Visit our Leaf Watch website and see where the fall leaves are looking their best.

Fall Hayrides

Climb aboard a tractor-pulled hay wagon and enjoy the fall scenery at these state parks:
Cloudland Canyon           Red Top Mountain
Sweetwater Creek          Skidaway Island
Tugaloo                            Victoria Bryant

10th Annual Cane Grinding, Nov. 13
George L. Smith State Park
Tour the park's covered bridge/grist mill, watch cane grinding and taste cane juice for yourself!

Syrup-making & Storytellin', Nov. 13
Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site
Step back in time to an old-fashioned syrup cook, a traditional fall event on middle Georgia farms.  You can also enjoy woodstove cooking and storytelling.

Free Mobile App! eNews GeorgiaAmerica's State Parks