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Diverse Wildlife Discovered At Euharlee Conservation Easement (future location of GDOT’s proposed route for 411 Connector)

2011 Field Surveys Validate City’s Designation of Easement as a Significant Wildlife Refuge

At the recent Euharlee City Council meeting, Henry Parkman, an attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC, presented results about the diverse wildlife discovered during 2011 field surveys at the Euharlee conservation easement on Dobbins Mountain.

According to the reports, the City of Euharlee has a direct surface water connection to the conservation easement at Dobbins Mountain. Numerous Cherokee darters (on the federal Endangered Species List) were found in a stream flowing from the lake at Cartersville Ranch into Pettit Creek. In addition, bald eagles are observed at the ranch approximately 35 times a year, and were seen several times during the 2011 wildlife surveys.

“The overall success of the 2011 field surveys completely validated the City of Euharlee’s designation of the conservation easement as a significant wildlife refuge,” said Parkman. “The protected hardwood forest of more than 100 contiguous acres provides habitat for an incredible variety of native plant and animal life, and is an important stopover location for migratory birds. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources correctly recognized the conservation value of the Euharlee wildlife refuge because it protects high priority species and habitats.”

A wildlife diversity study conducted by Quality Timber and Wildlife Management during a three-week period in March documented the presence of numerous deer, raccoons, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, gray foxes, wild turkeys and a bobcat. Most of the gray foxes, coyotes and red-tailed hawks were observed within the Euharlee wildlife refuge boundaries. The report also confirmed the greatest movement of wildlife was inside the conservation easement in a north-south direction, a natural travel corridor between the westernmost Dobbins Mountain ridge and I-75 to the east.

The author of the report, Matt Haun, president of Quality Timber and Wildlife Management, said, “The conservation easement represents an important refuge for wildlife. Not only does it provide habitat for a great range of mammal diversity, it protects over 100 acres of contiguous, diverse hardwood cover (including both overstory and understory habitat types), plants and smaller animals that provide food for the wildlife.”

Numerous Cherokee darters (on the federal Endangered Species List) were found in a stream flowing from the lake at Cartersville Ranch into Pettit Creek. (photo: Tracy Rogers)

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, made 24 trips to the Euharlee wildlife refuge during 2011. During his visits, he documented the presence of 89 different bird species within the wildlife refuge, more than half of which are 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 found in the wildlife refuge. The sky-blue warbler 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.

Spence stated, “The Euharlee conservation easement provides an important refuge for migrating birds to rest, feed, and nest before resuming their travels. The discovery of Cerulean Warblers on the property is a significant find, as breeding populations are declining faster than any other warbler species in the U.S. Its population is less than one-fifth of what it was 40 years ago.”

Further, Jim Allison, a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, conducted plant surveys during 12 separate visits to the Euharlee wildlife refuge in 2011. His most important find was the Georgia aster, discovered in bloom at Dobbins Mountain last fall (October 29, 2011). The Georgia aster is a state-protected and federal candidate species, and the population found at Dobbins Mountain is likely the largest in Georgia. Allison also discovered a population of native orchids – the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper – within the borders of the refuge. He also observed and photographed a total of 88 diverse native flowing plants within the refuge.

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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