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Hikers Learn About Diverse Bird Species at Euharlee Wildlife Refuge

photo courtesy of Shannon Fair

photo courtesy of Shannon Fair

With the fall bird migration in full swing, avid birders recently attended an educational hike at the 107-acre Euharlee wildlife refuge on Dobbins Mountain. The hikes, which were hosted by Cartersville Ranch and the City of Euharlee, provided members of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Coalition for the Right Road and others with the opportunity to learn about several different types of native and migratory birds and their habitat.

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, led the birding hike through the refuge  and noted 53 bird species. Participants heard and saw many types of birds, but various species of tanagers, warblers and vireos were the most common neotropical birds observed.

Many agreed that the highlight of the hike was three adult bald eagles having a dispute over a fish. As the hike was concluding, a bald eagle dove towards the lake and grabbed a fish approximately 200 to 300 feet from the hikers and the remaining two bald eagles gave chase for the eagle’s catch.  Other notable highlights included a sharp-shinned hawk pursuing a woodpecker through the wildlife refuge and a confirmed sighting of the declining Cerulean Warbler.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The Cerulean Warbler is one of the species of highest concern in the eastern United States because of a small total population size and significant declines throughout its range. The Cerulean is under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act and is listed on the Audubon Watchlist.”

An adult bald eagle grabs a fish from the lake on Cartersville Ranch. The eagle was one of three adult bald eagles that were utilizing the ranch’s lake as a source for food. (photo courtesy of Shannon Fair)

Kent Percy, member of the Atlanta Audubon Society, said, “It was a beautiful hike through the wildlife refuge’s contiguous hardwood forest, which contains a wide array of birds and wildlife. It would be tragic to see the 411 Connector come through here. If there are other options to build the road, I certainly hope the Georgia Department of Transportation looks very closely at its alternatives before destroying the easement. You cannot recreate what is here.”

Hike leader Josh Spence discusses color markings and other information about the Cerulean Warbler with local birding enthusiast and blogger Jean Pell. (photo courtesy of Cory Stewart)

While many were excited about the numerous types of neotropical birds observed, others remarked at the beauty and habitat quality of the wildlife refuge.

“I was very impressed with the diversity of bird species we observed on the hike,” said Atlanta birder Ruth Marley. “The property and conservation easement are beautifully maintained. It is wonderful that there are so many vines, great cover and protected areas for the birds. More importantly, it should be kept this way.”

Percy added, “This is something you cannot find in your backyard. You can see cardinals and blue jays all you want, but you cannot observe this many different types of birds; unless you get into an area that has a lot of forest. You hate to see some of this being destroyed for a road that could be done elsewhere.”

Designated as a significant wildlife refuge by the City of Euharlee in 2010, the conservation easement on Dobbins Mountain was certified for special conservation status last year by the DNR because it protects wildlife habitat through the conservation of high priority species and habitats.

City of Euharlee & Cartersville Ranch Host Educational Fall Hikes

Enthusiasts Will Learn About Diverse Bird and Wildflower Species at Euharlee Wildlife Refuge on Dobbins Mountain

The City of Euharlee and Cartersville Ranch today announced two educational hikes at the Euharlee wildlife refuge on Dobbins Mountain – one focused on bird species and the other on wildflowers. The birding and wildflower hikes are scheduled for later this month and October, respectively. Invitations have been extended to members of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Georgia Conservancy and Georgia Native Plant Society.

The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers, is participating in the outings. Public access has been limited to protect refuge habitat and species.

The announced series of educational hikes is consistent with the major purpose of the conservation easement, which is to preserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Also, the hikes are consistent with the conservation values, set forth in the recorded conservation easement document.

“The scheduled field trips through the conservation easement are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to educate those interested in the many natural treasures of Bartow County,” said Trish Sullivan, city manager for the City of Euharlee. “Participants will be able to fully experience the abundance of birds and native plants that make the Euharlee wildlife refuge so unique and essential to our community.”

Birding Hike

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, will lead the birding hike through the wildlife refuge to coincide with the fall migration. Last year, Spence completed 24 trips to the refuge and he documented the presence of 149 different bird species within the survey area of Cartersville Ranch. He also discovered 89 unique bird species within the boundaries of the wildlife refuge; more than half of those species were neotropical migratory birds that breed in the United States and during the winter in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Of the 89 species observed within the wildlife refuge, 10 are currently on the Important Bird Area Priority List, a special conservation status:  Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Cape May Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Worm-eating Warbler and Wood Thrush.

Wildflower Hike

Jim Allison, a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers, butterfly enthusiast and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will lead the wildflower hike at Dobbins Mountain. In 2011, Allison conducted plant surveys on 12 separate visits to the Euharlee wildlife refuge, and observed and photographed a total of 88 diverse native flowing plants within the refuge. His most important find was nearly 600 Georgia aster flowering stems – discovered in bloom at Dobbins Mountain last fall.

The Georgia aster is a state-protected and federal candidate species, and the population found at Dobbins Mountain is one of the largest remaining populations in the state. The Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR characterized the new discovery as significant. Its name and beauty have made it a candidate to replace the Cherokee Rose as the state flower.

Allison also discovered a population of native orchids – the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper – within the borders of the refuge. Participants are expected to see a variety of fall wildflowers, including bird’s-foot violet, blue sage, downy lobelia, false-dandelion, grass-leaved golden-aster, Kuhnia, narrow false-foxglove, rabbit tobacco, small-head sunflower, small-leaf white snakeroot, starved aster, stiffleaf coreopsis, wedgeleaf thoroughwort, white wingstem and many more.

About the Coalition for the Right Road

The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) is an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers. CORR is opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s current plans for the 411 Connector – Route D-VE – because of its exorbitant cost, inefficient interchange and environmental destruction. The coalition is committed to raising awareness of shorter, cheaper and less destructive routes, and is open to anyone who shares these concerns. For more information, visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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Guest column in Rome News-Tribune: Dobbins Mining landscape deserves listing on NRHP

by MARK C. McDONALD, Guest Columnist
08.19.12 – 06:30 am

THE DOBBINS MINING landscape is an important historic industrial site in Georgia and deserves listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation stands behind the Keeper of the National Register’s recent decision regarding its eligibility for the list, which is a final determination and not reviewable.

The Dobbins Mining Landscape is a largely intact, nineteenth-century manganese mine that provides a great amount of information about the way manganese mining was conducted more than 100 years ago.

Archeological features present in the landscape today correspond directly to a map from the historic period, which shows an unusually large open cut, an incline shaft, an ore-processing facility, and a road bed which was laid by the mining company to transport processed ore from the mine to the main railroad line and ultimately to the steel mills.

The early mining industry played an important role in the development of Northwest Georgia in the late nineteenth century through World War I, when manganese was used for the steel in our soldiers’ helmets.

Manganese had many other uses and was mined at Dobbins until the mid-twentieth century.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT in Northwest Georgia is an extremely important theme in our state’s development. If you are looking for history in this part of the state, textile milling and mining are far more prevalent than the plantation economy, which was never dominant in this region.

Industrial heritage sites do not possess the same kind of physical beauty normally associated with historic sites; however, many people are fascinated with these sites and the important story they tell.

Aesthetic values are not what determine whether a site is historic or not; rather it is the site’s role in the telling of our nation’s history. Dobbins Mine is a site which represents the heritage of Bartow County in a profound way.

GDOT itself recognized the historical significance of Dobbins Mine in a July 2005 publication and recommended a northerly route which would avoid adverse impacts to Dobbins and other historic resources.

There are several other industrial sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Sloss Furnace in Birmingham and the Central of Georgia Railway Shops in Savannah are both National Historic Landmarks. Both have taken advantage of this listing and now contribute to their local economies as heritage tourism sites.

We are hopeful that the owners of the Dobbins Mining site will agree to open their property to special tours to people interested in historic preservation. The Georgia Trust has already begun discussions about arranging periodic access to the site for such tours.

ADDITIONALLY, the Georgia Trust is strongly in favor of connecting I-75 to the historic city of Rome. We care greatly about the future of Rome and believe that economic development is the key to protecting the historic resources in Rome and Floyd County.

The Georgia Trust has been quite active in preservation in Rome, where we have had several successful ventures through our Endangered Properties program. The Trust also held its 2010 Annual Meeting and Spring Ramble in Rome, where Trust members from all across our state got a chance to view the remarkable progress made in Rome’s historic downtown and neighborhoods. Several preservation projects in Rome have received Georgia Trust preservation awards, such as the Curry and West Buildings and the Double-Cola Bottling Company building.

The Trust is aware that the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce is in favor of the GDOT route that will destroy Dobbins Mountain; however, that option appears to be closed.

We firmly believe there is an alternative route to connect U.S. 411 with I-75, which will protect historic and environmental resources and save valuable time and over $100 million because it does not require blasting through a rock mountain. We are further committed to working with GDOT, landowners, our State Historic Preservation Office and the residents of Bartow and Floyd counties to accomplish this objective.

Mark C. McDonald is president and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. He has more than 25 years of professional involvement in historic preservation. Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.

Feds Rule Dobbins Mine Eligible for National Register of Historic Places

Dobbins Mine site eligible for National Register of Historic Places
by Jessica Loeding, Daily Tribune News
08.05.12 – 08:00 am

Those opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Route D-VE for the proposed 411 Connector scored another victory last week when it was announced that the Dobbins Mine site was eligible for distinction from the National Register of Historic Places.

In a document signed July 19, the Keeper of the National Register declared the Dobbins Mine location eligible under criterion A. The same document declared the Guyton Ore Bank ineligible.

“The historic resources associated with historic mining along Dobbins Mountain constitute a mining landscape historic district eligible for listing in the National Register under Criterion A, for its association with late 19th and early 20th century mining operations and for the role this area played in producing large quantities of manganese ore for the manufacturing of steel,” the document reads.

“Earlier this year, the Federal Highway Administration asked the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places to provide a definitive determination of eligibility. Cartersville Ranch, the City of Euharlee and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation were acknowledged as consulting parties in the process, and attended — with the Georgia Department of Transportation and FHWA — meetings with the Keeper and her staff and submitted extensive documentation supporting the historic significance of the Dobbins manganese mining landscape,” said Henry Parkman, attorney of Cartersville Ranch.

“…This eligibility ruling under Criterion A means that the Keeper determined that the “quality of significance in American history … and culture is present in [the Dobbins Mining Landscape site] that possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association,” Parkman explained. “and is ‘associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history,’” he said.

According to Parkman, the Keeper’s eligibility ruling means that the Dobbins mining landscape is covered under a federal statute, Section 4(f), which says federal money cannot be spent on Route D-VE, which would “use” the historic site, “because there is a prudent and feasible alternative route.”

“Keep in mind, these alternative routes were considered in the earlier environmental impact statement. The Dobbins mining landscape is protected under federal law — based on the eligibility ruling — even if the site is not actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” he continued.

For the Georgia Trust, the ruling recognizes a part of history that often goes unnoticed.

Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust, said of the ruling, “The Georgia Trust is grateful for this ruling by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. We believed strongly that Dobbins Mine and the entire cultural landscape was eligible for the national register. Also, we believe its preservation is important to the heritage of the state of Georgia.

“When you look at the history of North Georgia, mines and mills are much more a part of this area’s heritage than plantation houses, but they are frequently overlooked and we are pleased they are getting the attention they deserve.”

Route D-VE, opponents say, is a costly and environmentally damaging choice for the roadway that will link Rome and Floyd County to Interstate 75 north of exit 290 in Cartersville. Concerns raised include the disturbance of wildlife, including the Cherokee darter, and the potential for acidic runoff.

“We are hopeful that GDOT will take this opportunity to select an alternate route that would avoid disturbing cultural and environmental resources at Dobbins Mountain,” Parkman said. “Moving to an alternative route now would get the 411 Connector built sooner and would save taxpayers over $100 million.”

Letter: Route has too many problems

Please read the below letter that appeared on the Rome News-Tribune website.

Route has too many problems

By MARY MARTIN, Coalition for the Right Road, Cartersville

07.18.12 – 06:30 am

IN THE COLUMN, “Group of 13 ganging up on Rome,”(Rome News-Tribune, July 1) there were several statements that the Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) would like to correct about the U.S. 411 Connector project.

Make no mistake; GDOT’s proposed Route D-VE (when compared to its previously selected Route G) costs $110 million more, is 2.5 miles longer, requires stop lights and twice the amount of expensive bridges and overpasses, and destroys parts of the local environment.

Although the author claimed that Route D-VE was a “long thought-out route,” GDOT failed to study 1,000 linear feet of streams in the right of way, historic Dobbins Mine site and an adjacent mining site — the Milner-Harris property, proposed road cut at Dobbins Mountain for acidic rock and the potential for runoff into nearby streams, endangered plants in the Route D-VE project corridor and Dobbins Mountain for the endangered Indiana bat.

Further, it is inaccurate to say that we and the environmental groups are trying to deny Rome a road to I-75. Rome should have a road to I-75, but it should be the right route — not Route D-VE. The environmental groups and other entities that favor an alternative route have been studying GDOT’s ill-conceived Route D-VE for years. Not only have they hiked the route on Dobbins Mountain, but they have participated in briefings about the road, educated members, attended connector-related meetings and much more.

I found it interesting that the author purposely called out the Georgia Conservancy for its lack of opposition to other major road projects. However, it was the Georgia Conservancy that actually banded with Rome/Floyd County in the 1960s and 1970s (according to newspaper archives) to oppose the eastern route of I-75 due to cost and environmental concerns. The record shows that Romans wanted a more westerly route. When that didn’t happen, opponents from Rome stalled the interstate project for several years. Given this history, the author’s criticism of Route D-VE’s opponents begins to sound hypocritical.

The author also contends it is easy to be critical of “us up here — especially when you don’t have to travel our road.” But those who would advocate wasting $110 million of taxpayers’ money, years of legal delays when other options exist, and damaging your neighboring county’s environmental and historic resources make themselves easy targets for criticism. Also we know that thousands of local citizens have expressed their opposition to Route D-VE and support for a better, cheaper and more sensible route.

The fact is, CORR and its supporters have legitimate concerns about Route D-VE and will continue to work on finding an alternate route that saves taxpayers millions of dollars and preserves the environment.

CBS Atlanta reports on GDOT’s costly, ill-conceived U.S. 411 Connector

Last night during CBS Atlanta’s 5 pm newscast, reporter Sonia Moghe outlined several troubling issues with GDOT’s wasteful and environmentally damaging route for the 411 Connector (a T-SPLOST project).  Please click on the below link to watch the story and share with others via social media, email, etc. GDOT’s fiscally irresponsible ways must be stopped – and this route is the first step.

http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/18848172/residents-oppose-gdot-plan-for-411-connector-through-dobbins-mountain.

Advertorial in today’s local newspapers by Coalition for the Right Road

CORR’s ad appeared in today’s Bartow Neighbor, Cartersville Daily Tribune News and Rome News-Tribune.

Read why it’s long overdue for GDOT to select a cheaper, shorter and less environmentally impactful alternate route – “Let’s Get On With It

Petition: Save the Cherokee darter from reckless highway construction!

The coalition wanted to share this additional petition to stop Route D-VE and protect the threatened and federally protected Cherokee darter.  (Thank you to Lynn Hamilton for sponsoring this petition.)

Please click on the below image to sign the petition.

City of Euharlee & Cartersville Ranch Host Educational Hikes

Bird and Wildflower Enthusiasts Will Learn About Diverse Wildlife at Euharlee Conservation Easement on Dobbins Mountain

The City of Euharlee and Cartersville Ranch today announced two educational hikes at the Euharlee conservation easement on Dobbins Mountain – one focused on wildflowers and the other on bird species. The wildflower and birding hikes are scheduled for later this month. Invitations have been extended to members of the Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Native Plant Society and Atlanta Audubon Society.

The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers, is participating in the outings. Public access has been limited to protect refuge habitat and species.

The announced educational hikes are consistent with the major purpose of the conservation easement, which is to preserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Also, the hikes are consistent with the conservation values, as set forth in the recorded conservation easement document.

“The upcoming field trips provide an opportunity to show others why the city designated the conservation easement as a significant wildlife refuge,” said Trish Sullivan, city manager of the City of Euharlee. “People who are especially interested in native plants and birds will be able to see what a unique resource the Euharlee wildlife refuge is and why it should be preserved.”

Wildflower Hike

Jim Allison, a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers, butterfly enthusiast and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will lead the wildflower hike at Dobbins Mountain. He will also identify and educate attendees about the unique butterflies that live in the refuge. In 2011, Allison conducted plant surveys on 12 separate visits to the Euharlee wildlife refuge, and observed and photographed a total of 88 diverse native flowing plants within the refuge. His most important find was the Georgia aster – discovered in bloom at Dobbins Mountain last fall.

The Georgia aster is a state-protected and federal candidate species, and the population found at Dobbins Mountain is one of the largest in Georgia. The Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR characterized the new discovery as significant. Allison also discovered a population of native orchids – the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper – within the borders of the refuge. A variety of spring wildflowers is expected, including blue-star, pussytoes, Jack-in-the-pulpit, toothwort, green-and-gold, Quaker ladies, yellow stargrass, spring iris, violet wood-sorrel, five-fingers, Piedmont azalea, rue-anemone, bellwort, at least five species of violets (including bird’s-foot), and many more.

Birding Hike

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, will lead the birding hike through the wildlife refuge. Last year, Spence completed 24 trips to the refuge and he documented the presence of 89 different bird species. More than half of those species were neotropical migratory birds that breed in the United States and during the winter in Mexico, Central America and South America.

One of the rarest bird species not on the Endangered Species List, the Cerulean Warbler, was discovered in the wildlife refuge and is known to spend the winter in South America. Of the 89 species found within the wildlife refuge, 10 are of special conservation status and 46 were found nesting or exhibiting nesting behavior. In addition, bald eagles are observed at Cartersville Ranch approximately 35 times a year, and were seen several times last year during wildlife surveys.

“It is easy to see why the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia DNR certified that the Euharlee conservation easement, which encompasses 106 contiguous acres of hardwood forest, satisfies three conservation purposes under Georgia’s rules,” said Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC. “First, the refuge protects wildlife habitat through the conservation of high priority species and habitats. Second, the refuge protects steep slopes, which will reduce erosion. Finally, the refuge protects headwater streams and their buffers, which will maintain and enhance water quality in the area.”

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About the Coalition for the Right Road

The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) is an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers. CORR is opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s current plans for the 411 Connector – Route D-VE – because of its exorbitant cost, inefficient interchange and environmental destruction. The coalition is committed to raising awareness of shorter, cheaper and less destructive routes, and is open to anyone who shares these concerns. For more information, visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Letter: DOT missed more than rare flowers

The below letter to the editor – which corrects several inaccurate claims – appeared in today’s Rome News-Tribune.

by LESLIE CRAWFORD, Cartersville
03.21.12 – 08:00 am

IN A RECENT editorial the paper questioned the discoveries of state-protected plant species — the Georgia Aster and Pink Lady Slipper — on Dobbins Mountain and located very near GDOT’s proposed US 411 Connector route.

This means GDOT must conduct additional surveys to locate and study habitat for these and other protected plants that may be located within Route D-VE. Presently, the re-evaluation of Route D-VE cannot be considered complete without the necessary botanical studies.

Additionally, the newly identified Georgia Aster population (which is near the 107-acre wildlife refuge) is considered one the largest in the state. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources recently said the discovery was significant.

And to be expected; GDOT never fully studied the route for the threatened flowers. If you remember, GDOT also failed to study streams on Dobbins Mountain, historic Dobbins Mine, acid rock and possible runoff at the Dobbins Mountain road cut, and more.

Interestingly, the paper stated that Route D-VE is not the only possible connector route. In the editorial, the paper surprisingly promoted its own alternate route — a highway from Rome that links to the Red Mountain Top interchange at I-75. Suffice to say the paper’s recommendation is one of many viable alternate routes.

Finally, Route D-VE represents a gross waste of environmental resources and tax dollars, and is hardly a direct route for motorists.

If anything, Route D-VE will only result in more delays and a continued misuse of our taxpayer money (at least $100 million). Smarter alternate routes exist and it is time for local leaders and residents to support one of the much cheaper/efficient designs.

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