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December Ga. DNR e-news; image of wiregrass
December 2008
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Also in this issue:
* Fatten your feeders
* Details on darters
* Rare bird surveys
* The need for seed

WILD Facts
While holiday shopping, don’t forget about the feathered friends in your backyard! Help songbirds survive the winter by adding birdfeeders, nest boxes and birdbaths. Black-oiled sunflower seed is a favorite for many seed-eating birds, and insect-eaters like suet cakes. If squirrels become a nuisance at your feeders, try using a squirrel-proof feeder or less tasty safflower seeds. Birdhouses used for nesting in spring also provide shelter from the cold in winter. Don’t forget that birds need water, too! To keep water available when temperatures drop below freezing, consider buying a heated birdbath. The songbirds will thank you!
In education
A new program at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is geared toward Georgia’s home-schoolers. The program started in November emphasizes peer cooperation and individual exploration in segments designed for two age groups: grades first through third and fourth through seventh. Topics vary from animals' winter foraging strategies to stream habitat exploration.  Uncover the secrets of Georgia’s wildlife and habitats each month at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, near Mansfield.

Up close
Wounded darter
Etheostoma vulneratum
Photo of wounded darter.
: The Toccoa River features Georgia’s only known population of wounded darters (as well as olive and tangerine darters). Outside Georgia, wounded darters are found in the upper Tennessee River system in east Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
Appearances: No longer than about 3.4 inches. Adult males sport bright colors, including a green breast, red tail and red spots along the body and first dorsal fin. Females are a duller brown, but also have red spots in the first dorsal fin.
: Deep runs in moderate to large rivers featuring boulders and large cobble.
Eats: Mayfly nymphs and tiny aquatic insects like midge larvae.
Rocky start: In spawning, females deposit egg clutches on undersides of rock ledges. Males defend the eggs, sometimes deposited by several females, until they hatch. Wounded darters may live four to five years.
Status: State-listed as endangered. The American Fisheries Society considered the species vulnerable across its range in a 2008 review of all North American fishes.
Threats: Historically, impoundments destroyed a large amount of free-flowing, large river habitat throughout the wounded darter’s range. The species requires un-silted cavities underneath rocks for spawning, making it ultra-sensitive to sedimentation.
The latest: A summer 2008 study by the Wildlife Resources Division found wounded darters at nine of 29 sites checked, all upstream (or south) of Lake Blue Ridge, which alters stream flows and temperatures. The project led by Brett Albanese also cited the destruction of riparian zone habitats along the Toccoa as cause for concern.
Outlook: The study suggests that the river upstream of Lake Blue Ridge is critical for wounded and tangerine darters. Albanese is planning a workshop in spring 2009 to inform Toccoa River landowners of study findings and conservation needs.
Legislative updates
More than 2.4 million Georgia voters approved Amendment 1 in a landslide (68% to 32%) on Nov. 4. The state constitutional amendment expands the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment, or CUVA, to make large forestlands eligible for the voluntary program's tax breaks. Landowners with more than 200 contiguous acres of forest who agree to a 15-year conservation covenant are eligible for the lower property tax assessments. There also is no acreage cap on forestland enrolled. The amendment’s passage makes the Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008 effective (Gov. Perdue signed it May 8). According to the Georgia Forestry Association, the state Revenue Department will create rules and forms to implement the act by Jan. 1, 2009, when the new CUVA classification begins.

Public lands profile
McLemore Cove is many things. Beautiful valley. Biological treasure. Historic site. But the one thing part of McLemore hasn’t been is public property. Until this fall, when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources joined with leaders from the Georgia Land Conservation Program, Walker County and other groups to announce the acquisition of 1,839 acres of the cove. Read more.

Your money at work
This is the slot saved for discussing projects backed by Georgia’s Wildlife Conservation Fund. But as 2008 yields to 2009, let’s take a wider look. The Wildlife Conservation Fund is built through donations and public fundraising. Key fundraisers are the bald eagle and hummingbird license plate sales, the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff and the annual Weekend for Wildlife. Money in the fund is used to match wildlife grants, acquire conservation lands, research and restore nongame wildlife and native habitats, and raise awareness about the priceless value of all the above. In a nutshell, that’s the mission of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. This part of the DNR, at 50 employees strong, operates only on grants, fundraising and donations. No state general revenues are used. When someone buys an eagle or hummingbird license plate, or gives through the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff on their tax form, that money bankrolls the mission. Projects from harvesting wiregrass seed in Colquitt County to monitoring diseases in frogs and salamanders in Towns County move forward. The money – your money – is put to work for Georgia wildlife. Want to know more? Read the section’s four-year report.

Ranger reports
Bald eagle shot: As of early December, rangers were seeking details about the shooting of a young bald eagle near Paradise Public Fishing Area. The wounded bird was discovered Nov. 19 at Paradise, near Tifton. Wildlife Resources Division personnel carried it to Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center. The eagle was in stable condition but it was unclear whether the raptor will fully recover from the shot to its left side, possibly from a rifle. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the TIPs hotline, 1-800-241-4113, or e-mail “Someone has committed a crime,” said Col. Terry West, DNR law enforcement chief. “But without any further information, we would have no other leads to go on.” Callers can remain anonymous.

Nongame in the news
* Savannah Morning News: "Right whales return to Georgia coast," about first whales of the 2008-09 season spotted off S.C., Georgia coast. (Dec. 2)
* The Macon Telegraph: "Flint River dam proposals revive statewide controversy," about new debate over damming the Flint in Upson County. (Dec. 1)
* The Washington Post: "Ship speed limit may help rare whales survive strikes," about new large-ships speed limit set to protect right whales. (Dec. 1)
* All About Animals blog: "Ancient lake sturgeon no longer history in Georgia," about DNR sturgeon stockings, including in the Etowaha River above Allatoona. (Nov. 28)
* The (Gainesville) Times: "DNR courts the frog listeners to count amphibians," about the need for volunteers on 2009 state routes of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program. With audio. (Nov. 24). AP story (Nov. 21).
* The (Gainesville) Times: "Youth can win prizes for identifying birds," about 2009 Youth Birding Competition. (Nov. 24)
* The Brunswick News (via "Honey speeds turtles' healing," about Georgia Sea Turtle Center treatment of turtles hit by boats. (Nov. 21)
* Barrow County News: "Wildlife program for homeschoolers," about Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center's new outreach. (Nov. 20)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Loggerheads set record for nesting in Georgia," graphic detailing banner year for sea turtles. (Nov. 18)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Court rules for developer on coastal marina," about state Supreme Court ruling
involving proposed marina complex near Cumberland Island National Seashore. (Nov. 17)
* (and others via AP): "Navy training range off Jacksonville coast could harm endangered whales," about concerns involving right whales and sonar exercises range off Jacksonville, Fla., coast.  (Nov. 15)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Native grass gets intervention at Panola Mountain," Charles Seabrook column about collecting seeds of native grasses at Panola, Sprewell Bluff. (Nov. 13)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Offshore speed limit benefits right whales," about new -- and controversial -- federal speed limit for ships. Editorial supporting speed limit:: "U.S. correct to protect right whales." (Nov. 13)
* Southeastern Outdoors Forum: "Eyes on birds, Project FeederWatch season starts soon," about startup for 2008-09 Project FeederWatch. (Nov. 11)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Cool weather brings first of season’s birds," Charles Seabrook column includes segment on battling invasive plants at a Rabun County mountain bog. (Nov. 9)

Upcoming "Outdoors"
"Georgia Outdoors" is shown on GPB channels at 9:30 p.m. Fridays, noon and 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays (except when other programming intervenes).
* "Healthy outdoors," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9
* "Backyard habitat," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16
* "Ocmulgee River watershed," 9:30 p.m. Dec. 19, noon and 6 p.m. Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23
* "Pine Mountain," noon and 6 p.m. Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30
Details online.

Dec. 14-Jan. 5: 109th Christmas Bird Count. Find a count near you.
Feb. 13-16: Great Backyard Bird Count
March 13-15: Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia 2009 conference, UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center
April 27-29: Georgia Water Resources Conference, UGA Center for Continuing Education, Athens
June 20-26: Paddle Georgia 2009 (Coosawattee and Oostanaula rivers).
Submit items.

Photo credits (from top)
* Longleaf pines and wiregrass at Seminole State Park (masthead). Matt Elliott/Ga. DNR
* Mother right whale and calf. Wildlife Trust/Ga. DNR
* Wounded darter. Bud Freeman
* Brown-headed nuthatch eating suet. Terry Johnson
* DNR's Anna Yellin with smooth purple coneflower seeds. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Bachman's sparrow. Tim Keyes/Ga. DNR
* Swainson's warbler. Ty Ivey
Wiregrass seed. Rick Lavender/Ga. DNR
* DNR's Alan Isler harvesting wiregrass seed at Doerun Pitcherplant Bog Natural Area. Rick Lavender/Ga. DNR
* Andrea Timpone. Elachee Nature Science Center
* Georgia aster in bloom. Michele Elmore/The Nature Conservancy

Georgia Wild
volume 1, issue 8

Georgia Wild is an e-newsletter produced by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and focused on conserving nongame species, those not legally trapped, fished for or hunted. The newsletter is delivered free to subscribers. Subscribe or read archive issues here. Wildlife Resources' Nongame Conservation Section conserves and protects Georgia's diversity of native animals and plants and their habitats through research, management and education. The section receives no state funds, depending on grants, donations and fundraisers such as nongame license plate sales, the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff and Weekend for Wildlife. Call (770) 761-3035 or click here for details on direct contributions. The nongame plates -- the bald eagle/U.S. flag and ruby-throated hummingbird -- are available for a one-time $25 fee at county tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms or through online renewal.

Next month
* Tracking marbled godwits
* Terry Johnson's column
* Habitat for the birds
* Georgia's conservation future

Keeping an ear out for whales
North Atlantic right whale cow and calf photo.

Study off Georgia coast will hone in on cow, calf calls
   North Atlantic right whales are talking, but who’s listening? The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, among others. And with good reason. Acoustic research, including a project off Georgia’s coast this winter, may help conserve the imperiled whales.
   For more than 20 years, aerial surveys have been the primary way of reducing ship/whale collisions, a leading cause of right whale deaths. But surveys by plane are costly, dangerous and ineffective at night and in bad weather. Thanks to technological improvements, locating whales by their calls is now possible. The so-called passive acoustic detection uses computerized “smart” buoys that listen for whale calls and immediately report them using a cell or satellite phone link.
   Cornell University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently installed the first full-scale real-time passive acoustic detection system in Cape Cod Bay. (Any whales detected today?) When a whale vocalization is picked up, certain ships entering Cape Cod Bay are alerted and required to slow to 10 knots, reducing collision risks.
   Other research is being done, including in the Southeast. This winter, biologists from the DNR, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service hope to answer a related question: Do cows with calves vocalize or is it the larger numbers of non-breeding whales that are calling? Some have speculated that cows with calves may be quieter than other whales, perhaps to avoid attracting predators but also foiling use of acoustic detection to protect the species’ most valuable demographic component – breeding females.
   Recording devices called Bioacoustic Probes will be attached to up to 10 right whale cows with calves in the whales’ calving grounds off Georgia and Florida.
   The process sounds simple: A whale is approached by boat. A handheld pole is used to stick the foot-long tag tipped with a suction cup to the whale’s back. The probe records vocalizations and ambient sound for up to 12 hours. Then it pops off and is relocated using a VHF radio receiver.
   “While maneuvering the 23-foot tagging boat within 15 feet of a 50-foot-long, 50-ton swimming right whale will certainly be challenging, the biggest challenge will likely be whether or not the tags stay on for the full recording time,” said Clay George, a DNR Wildlife Resources Division biologist. “Right whale calves frequently roll back and forth across their mothers’ backs, which may cause the tags to detach prematurely.”
   The project could help determine whether passive acoustic detection is a viable management option in the Southeast.
   Time, and sound, will tell.
* Related news: Ship speed limit kicks in; First calf of the season arrives early.

Out my backdoor
'Fatter' feeders benefit birds
By Terry W. Johnson
   While we try to trim fat from our diets, many backyard birds relish feeders laden with it. Birds will eat the fat of cattle, hogs and others, but the most common fat in feeders is beef fat, or suet.
Photo of brown-headed nuthatch eating suet.   The best suet comes from around a cow’s kidneys and loins. When rendered, it doesn’t turn rancid or melt as fast in warm weather.
   The best source of suet is your favorite butcher. Chunks of non-rendered fat can be fed to birds in hardware cloth feeders, mesh bags, plastic berry baskets and rubber-coated soap dishes. Rendering is best, however. Here’s how:
   Cut the fat into small chunks. Put them in the top section of a double boiler. Fill the bottom pan with water. Cook over low heat. Pour the liquefied fat into molds such as a jar lid. Add extras like seeds or crushed eggshells as wanted. After the suet cools, keep it in the freezer until you use it.
   This high-energy food also can be bought. In my experience, plain store-bought suet is not a preferred food. However, one flavored with peanuts disappears in a week or two.
   For an overlooked suet source, try venison fat. I have watched dark-eyed juncos feeding on bits of deer fat near the deer weighing shelter at Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area. Save the fat when dressing a deer, or, if you don’t hunt, ask a hunting friend to.
   Also don’t overlook suet in summer. Although the fat is a winter staple and it spoils rapidly when temperatures top 70, surveys show that it ranks behind only sunflower and mixed seed as the most popular summer food for birds. Overcome problems with heat by hanging suet in the shade or refrigerating it at night.
   Using suet in summer attracts birds that would rarely visit my feeders. This past summer, brown thrashers, Carolina wrens, gray catbirds and eastern bluebirds vied with titmice, Carolina chickadees, downy woodpeckers and common grackles for peanut-flavored suet in my yard. Suet is used for insect-eating birds, but it’s also consumed by more than 24 seed-eating species, from American robins to rose-breasted grosbeaks.
   If you want to expand your feeder clientele, add suet. The new entrée will be gobbled up by feathered diners that don’t have to worry about the fat in their diets.
   Read the full column here.

Terry Johnson is a former Nongame program manager with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, a backyard wildlife writer and expert, and executive director of TERN, the friends group for Wildlife Resources Nongame Conservation Section.

Chilly Currahee gets rare plants
   Morning temperatures in the upper 20s didn’t deter a determined and well-bundled group from helping some of Georgia's rarest plants Nov. 19.
    Volunteers and staff from the Wildlife Resources Division, U.S. Forest Service, Zoo Atlanta and State Botanical Garden of Georgia out-planted more than 250 curlyheads, Georgia asters (a candidate for federal listing) and federally endangered smooth purple coneflowers at Currahee Mountain in Stephens County.
   “The big emphasis is on rare plant community and habitat conservation. That's what this project is mostly about – shortleaf pine/post oak woodland restoration,” said botanist Mincy Moffett of the division's Nongame Conservation Section.
Photo of Anna Yellin with smooth purple coneflower seeds.   The State Wildlife Action Plan, Georgia’s conservation roadmap, identified the effort to reintroduce the rare plants as a high-priority conservation action.
   Safeguarding and habitat restoration are linked components of rare plant and plant community conservation. Safeguarding refers to cultivation and restoration activities rated a conservation strategy of last resort.
   Federal funding has been provided for rare plant recovery, and a portion used for safeguarding, stewardship, monitoring and outplanting projects like the Currahee Mountain project. Currahee is part of the two-by-12-mile section in which all smooth purple coneflowers found in Georgia exist. The narrow band contains the soils rich in calcium or magnesium the coneflower needs.
   The agencies and organizations involved in the project are members of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, or GPCA. Most of the volunteers hailed from the Botanical Guardians, a group led by Heather Alley of the State Botanical Garden at the University of Georgia.
   “Involving volunteers in hands-on conservation projects allows people to contribute directly to preserving our state's natural heritage and provides critical manpower to get the job done,” Alley said.
   Georgia is recognized nationally as a leader in plant conservation. The NatureServe report “Hidden in Plain Sight” praised the state’s Wildlife Action Plan as an example of "how to do it right.” Georgia was one in a handful of states that considered plant conservation needs on equal footing with animal conservation.

Photo of a Bachman's sparrow.Part 1: Rare birds & state lands

DNR's eye is
on the sparrow
... and the Swainson's warbler

By Tim Keyes
    The State Wildlife Action Plan focuses on species of high conservation concern in Georgia.  Some such as bald eagles and wood storks are relatively easy to detect and monitor and have been addressed through existing programs. Others, including some that occur on state property, are much more difficult to detect, and their ranges and densities are much less known.
   To help provide answers and guide conservation efforts, the Wildlife Resources Division has been surveying state lands for the past three years, primarily for Bachman’s sparrow and Swainson’s warbler. These two species were picked because the extent of their presence on state lands was not known and they respond well to favorable habitat management practices.
   Bachman’s sparrow and Swainson’s warbler are polar opposites in terms of habitat needs. Bachman’s sparrows are birds of open, grassy, pine savanna habitat. Swainson’s warblers use dense canebrakes and other thickets in bottomland hardwood forests. Bachman’s sparrows are year-round residents that often begin singing in February and continue through August, making them relatively easy to hear if not see. Swainson’s warblers are neotropical migrants rarely seen on migration. They nest earlier than many other migrants and are best surveyed between mid-April and mid-June. Later in summer they often become much more quiet. All of these characteristics make them more challenging to find.
Photo of a Swainson's warbler.   Recorded calls were used to call each species along transects in suitable habitat. As can be imagined, this was much easier for Bachman’s sparrows than Swainson’s warblers. It’s the difference between strolling through a grassy upland and bushwhacking through dense thickets around swamps and sloughs.
   Undaunted, researchers surveyed 16 state wildlife management or natural areas from Dawsonville to Moultrie for Bachman’s sparrows. The birds were confirmed on all but one. The most promising sites are in the Coastal Plain and include the new Silver Lake WMA near Bainbridge and River Creek WMA near Thomasville.
   The Swainson’s warbler surveys covered 21 areas, some where warblers had occurred in previous years. This time, the species was recorded at 15 sites.
   Swainson’s warbler numbers appeared to be down at Cedar Creek, Beaverdam and other WMAs where bottomland hardwoods had matured, shading out cane and other understory plants that make up the thickets the birds use for nesting. Younger forest stands such as those found at River Bend WMA’s South Tract maintained high densities of Swainson’s warbler. But even here, a lack of light had suppressed some of the cane, prompting efforts to remove the overstory in patches to promote cane growth.
   The surveys allow the division to target state-controlled property for management that should help maintain or increase populations of these vulnerable species. And managing for Bachman’s sparrows and Swainson’s warblers provides habitat for other species. Many birds and other wildlife such as the brown-headed nuthatch, loggerhead shrike, Southeastern American kestrel and prairie warbler depend on open pine savanna. Other species that use dense bottomland thickets include Kentucky warbler, hooded warbler and white-eyed vireo.
* Read more. Plus, next month: Help through habitat

Photo of harvesting wiregrass seed on Doerun Natural Area.
Answering a need for seed
Native grasses restoration takes
root in harvest of wiregrass, others
   Alan Isler is dodging longleaf pines with a tractor at Doerun Pitcherplant Bog Natural Area. There is no lack of hazards. But Isler’s focus is more on the thigh-high grass glinting golden in the November sun.
   The wiregrass is ready to harvest.
   “We’ve got about 250 acres on River Creek WMA where the seed will be going,” said Isler, a wildlife resource manager with the Wildlife Resources Division. “To plant, we need about 600 pounds.”
   Most of the seed sown at River Creek, the Rolf and Alexandra Kauka WMA, near Thomasville, will come from 650-acre Doerun Natural Area in Colquitt County. Isler harvested the area for the first time last month, using a Flail-Vac, a mini-street sweeper-like machine that mounts on the tractor front and brushes seeds into a hopper. After piling a load of the coarse, hair-like wads of seeds and stems into a cardboard box, employee Danny Smith (below) slid a wiregrass stem through closed fingers.
   “When it starts sticking in your hand, you know you’ve got a good seed,” he said, referring to the thread-light, half-inch-long seeds left in his palm. These, he and Isler agreed, were good seeds.
Photo of Danny Smith cleaning needles from wiregrass seed.   Wiregrass is part of the longleaf pine ecosystem that once stretched across the Southeast yet now rates as one of the nation’s most endangered habitats and a high priority in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan. The perennial bunch grass (Aristida beyrichiana) is indicative of a biologically diverse ground cover and essential to the fire needed to maintain  that diversity. Quick to regrow following a fire, wiregrass not only burns easily, it catches and suspends fallen pine needles above the forest floor, offering them as more fuel for the flames.
   Planting wiregrass is one facet in a growing effort to restore native grasses in Georgia and other states. Other examples include:   The good news: Klaus said his little bluestem harvest this year marked a record, nearly 50 pounds.
   Grassroots interest and a stronger federal emphasis on habitat restoration using native grasses are expected to raise demand for such seed and prod private sector efforts to meet the need. A pound of wiregrass seed sells for about $400.
   The mix of wiregrass and other native grasses collected at Doerun will be stored for planting in February and March. Then comes patience, and another aspect of nature.
   “You get these seed in the ground, then … hope and pray for rain,” Isler said. Read more.

   * ’Tis the season to bird watch. Binoculars-required events include the 109th Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 14-Jan. 5), the midwinter waterbird survey on Georgia’s coast (click for 2008 results) and Project FeederWatch, which began Nov. 8 but runs through April 3 (and has a new instructional video).
   * The state Board of Natural Resources approved Chris Clark as the next DNR commissioner Dec. 3. Clark, head of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, takes the helm at DNR when Commissioner Noel Holcomb retires in April.
   * The board also honored Andrea Timpone, executive director of Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville, with the 2008 Rock Howard Award. given annually Photo of Andrea someone whose work significantly supports DNR’s mission. Timpone (right) has led the nonprofit environmental education center for more than 20 years.
   * Stumped for a gift for wildlife-loving friends or family? Try a “Calls of the Wild” frogs CD, a copy of "Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia" from UGA Press, a bird or bat house you made by hand (plans here!) or even better a donation in that person’s honor to Georgia’s Wildlife Conservation Fund.
   * The 2009 Youth Birding Competition sports an e-addition: a new e-mailed newsletter offering birding and event tips and details. Signing up for the e-letter is free, as is the annual competition set for April 25-26.
   * As of early December, the 74 whooping cranes in the eastern migratory population were scattered from Michigan to Florida. The 14 ultralight-led cranes with Operation Migration had flown from Wisconsin to Tennessee, following a migration path that will clip the corner of southwest Georgia en route to Chassahowitzka and St. Marks national wildlife refuges along Florida's Gulf Coast.
   * Separate bird-related meetings in Georgia last month tackled big-picture topics. They included bird project updates via the State Wildlife Action Plan, a multistate grant for designing sustainable landscapes for birds through the South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative, and research involving American oystercatchers via the Atlantic States American Oystercatchers Cooperative Working Group.
   * Add Camp Adahi, the 737-acre Girl Scout camp atop Lookout Mountain, to the growing list of conservation lands in Walker County. The Lookout Mountain Conservancy, partnering with the Girl Scouts Moccasin Bend Council, the Georgia Land Conservation Program and the Open Space Institute, recently announced the long-discussed acquisition.
   * Georgia River Network has launched a Paddle Georgia blog, with posts by trip coordinator Joe Cook.
   * President Bush’s recent pardons included a Missouri man who said he unintentionally poisoned three bald eagles while trying to kill coyotes in 1995. Leslie Owen Collier, who pleaded guilty, paid $10,000 in restitution and lost some rights as a felon, said he regretted the incident and that it “never entered into my head I might kill (bald eagles).”

Photo of a Georgia aster bloom.

Parting shot

Several large populations
of Georgia asters
have been found at Red Top Mountain State Park
and on nearby Army Corps of Engineers property
along Lake Allatoona. Read more. A new population
of the rare plant was also discovered in October
in Harris County near Goat Rock Marina, a Georgia
Power site south of Bartlett's Ferry Dam/Lake Harding.
One of those plants, photographed by Michele Elmore
of The Nature Conservancy, is pictured here.


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