Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
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Spring 2010            

Dear Junior Ranger,
It must be spring!  Every morning I wake up to a loud chorus of birds singing in my backyard.  The lengthening daylight is responsible - that is what triggers this outburst of song.  I enjoy hearing the cardinals and chickadees who have been with us all winter as well as the migrating birds who have just returned. 
I especially love to see the ruby-throated hummingbirds (our Cool Critter from last issue) who are due back from their winter home in Central America.  My hummingbird feeder is filled with sugar water and ready for them.  Do you have a hummingbird feeder at your house?
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks

Also in this Issue:
* Cool Critter Contest
* Meet a Botanist
* Leave No Trace Tip
* Wild About Wildflowers
* Spring Hikes & Happenings

Cool Critter

Can you identify this cool Georgia critter? 

Correctly identify this animal by April 20 and be entered to win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Hint: Be specific; it is the most abundant of its kind in Georgia.  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.

Meet A Botanist

Tom Patrick, a botanist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, studies Georgia's rare plants.


Do you think YOU might want to be a botanist when you grow up?  Tom shares his background in this special interview for Junior Rangers.

What inspired you to become a botanist?
When I was a youngster growing up in New York our family took afternoon hikes in the woods.  My parents taught me and my sister about plants and birds that live in the forest. We learned to be quiet and observant.

What are your job responsibilities?
I spend alot of time in the field and travel all over the state looking for the 600-650 kinds of rare plants that live in Georgia.  I also work with other plant conservationists to protect plants.

What do you like most about your job?
I love to get outdoors and see the natural beauty of our state.  I enjoy going back to favorite places where I can see the success of our management   efforts.  My favorite places include carnivorous plant bogs which are  found in south Georgia as well as the North Georgia mountains.     

What advice would you give a Junior Ranger who may be interested in becoming a botanist when they grow up?
Get to know people who share your interest in plants and join clubs that take field trips to natural places. Go on as many field trips as possible to learn more about the outdoors.

What did you study in college that helped you become a botanist?  In college I majored in forestry which allowed me to take classes about trees, flowering plants, forest management and many other courses in natural history.  I also attended a 10-week summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains to study field ecology.


Leave What You Find - Don't Pick Wildflowers

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 Leave What You Find.  When you visit our State Parks or other wild places you should leave natural objects where you find them. This includes wildflowers.

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

Adopt-a-Stream

Citizen scientists, including youth groups and others, are monitoring our streams and waterways to ensure that they are clean and healthy.  Would you like to become an Adopt-a-Stream monitor or participate in a river clean-up?

Learn More
Visit your local library and check out these titles:

* Black Bear by Stephen R. Swinburne
* Salamanders: Secret, Silent Lives by Sara Swan Miller


Photo credits:
Masthead: Linda Patrick
Tom Patrick photo: State Botanical Garden of Georgia



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Mountain Forests & Streams

The forests of the north Georgia mountains are home to black bears and many other animals. 

Cool mountain streams provide drinking water for wildlife as well as habitat for trout and other creatures.

Black Bears
Georgia's largest population of black bears live in the north Georgia mountains.  There are two other smaller populations  - in central Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp. 

While it is unlikely that you will ever encounter a black bear, there is one thing you can do to help bears: NEVER leave food or trash where bears can get to it.  Bears that have access to human food and trash can become a nuisance.  Georgia State Parks that are located in bear country use bear-proof trash cans. Learn more about black bears.

Spotted Salamanders are one of Georgia's most common salamanders.  You can sometimes find them under rotten logs in the forest.
Salamanders are secretive yet common residents of the forest floor.  While their body shape resembles a lizard, they are not lizards.  Salamanders are amphibians; they live in water for part of their life.

Trout Streams
Trout require clean, cold water like that found in the mountain streams of North Georgia.  We have three kinds of trout: the native brook trout and two other introduced species - brown trout and rainbow trout.

Trout fishing is a popular activity in the mountains.  

 Things to do:
* Go wading in a creek and look for aquatic insects, crayfish and other stream life.
* Take a hike in the north Georgia mountains. 
* Find a bear-proof trash can at a north Georgia State Park and learn how it works.
* Go trout fishing in a mountain stream.

Wild About Wildflowers

Spring is a beautiful time of year to go hiking in the mountains to look for wildflowers.  Some of the spring beauties pictured below have names that describe their appearance: Virginia Bluebells, Pink Lady's Slipper, Dutchman's Breeches and Large-flowered Trillium (trillium have parts in threes - three flower petals, three leaves etc.; there are many kinds of trillium in Georgia).
A                                                     B         







                                                            







C                                                  D

Can you match the above with the correct name? 
Send the correct answers to the Chief Naturalist by April 20 and have your name entered in a drawing to win a Black Bears in Georgia video. 

Things to do:
* Wildflower Match - see above
* Make a flower press to press flowers and leaves from your yard - watch this video to learn how.
* Go out in your neighborhood and listen for the spring song of these common backyard birds: Northern Cardinal, American Robin.

Spring Hikes & Happenings

State Parks in the North Georgia Mts.
Take a hike in a mountain forest at any of these Georgia State Parks.  Those that are marked with an asterisk offer Wildflower Hikes this spring.

Amicalola Falls *               Black Rock Mountain
Fort Mountain                   Moccasin Creek
Smithgall Woods *            Tallulah Gorge *
Unicoi *                             Vogel *

Visit a Trout Hatchery
Visit the Lake Rabun trout hatchery right next to Moccasin Creek State Park or the Buford Trout Hatchery in Forsyth County south of Lake Lanier.

Other "Must See" Spring Wildflower Sites in North Georgia

Sosebee Cove is located near Suches, Ga. on  Hwy 180 - just a few miles from Vogel State Park. Take a short easy hike on the Cove Trail.

The Pocket at Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area is located near Lafayette, Ga.  Take a hike on the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail.
 



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