Local Residents Call on GDOT to Complete Additional Plant Studies
The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built less expensively, safer, and with minimal environmental impact, today announced the discovery of a large population of one of Georgia’s rarest plants — the Georgia Aster. Because the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was not aware of these protected plant species on Dobbins Mountain, its prior environmental studies failed to account for rare plant habitat that could be negatively impacted by the proposed connector route, Route D-VE, which will cut through the mountain.
Throughout last year, botanist Jim Allison conducted field studies at Dobbins Mountain, including within the 107-acre Euharlee wildlife refuge. During an extensive plant survey last fall, Allison documented nearly 600 Georgia Aster flowering stems along the boundary of the refuge and very close to the proposed Route D-VE corridor. This newly-discovered Georgia Aster population is one of the largest in the state of Georgia. The Georgia Aster is a threatened, state-protected species, as well as a federal candidate species. Tom Patrick, botanist with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), characterized the new discovery as significant.
Allison also documented at Dobbins Mountain a population of rare, native orchids (Pink Lady Slipper), a state-protected species, and Montane Longleaf Pines, which represent a “special concern” natural community for Bartow County. In addition to these rare, protected plants, Allison documented a diverse botanical community within the Euharlee wildlife refuge, consisting of at least 88 different native plant species.
When informed about the discovery of these rare plants, Pierre Howard, president of the Georgia Conservancy, stated, “The discovery of a large population of Georgia aster at Dobbins Mountain in Bartow County is of great botanical significance. Dobbins Mountain and its many natural treasures must be protected for future generations. It would be unthinkable to build a road through it when a better route is available.”
“The new plant discoveries are a meaningful development,” said Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC. “First, the rare plants identified at the Euharlee conservation easement provide additional evidence of the abundant, diverse wildlife that will be protected by the refuge. Secondly, now that these protected plant species have been discovered, GDOT should conduct additional surveys to identify and study habitat for these and other protected plants that may be found within the corridor of proposed Route D-VE. The current re-evaluation of Route D-VE cannot be considered complete without GDOT doing such studies.”
The Coalition for the Right Road is not the only organization concerned about protecting the newly discovered rare plants. The Georgia Botanical Society, perhaps the most widely recognized and respected botanical organization in the state, has recently urged FHWA to consider an alternate route that would preserve the botanically sensitive areas of Dobbins Mountain.
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.