New Tracts Offer Some Public Hunting

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32,000 new acres comes with $46.3 million price tag.

Since September 2015, DNR has purchased 32,000 acres, and all those properties are included in the WMA system and will be open for hunting this fall. While some of these tracts had been leased for hunting for years and are now being purchased, other properties are brand-new hunting tracts.

The ticket price for the new lands was $46.3 million dollars, with nearly $24 million coming from federal funds, $17.1 from state funds and $4.9 from cash donations. When compared to former land acquisition programs, this is a hefty price tag and a pile of new dirt.

“Most of the purchases have been made in conjunction with the Gopher Tortoise Initiative designed to keep the gopher tortoise from being listed by the USFWS,” said Mark Whitney, assistant director for WRD. “The state of Georgia has recognized this initiative as a priority due to the potential economic effects of having the tortoise listed as threatened or endangered.

“So, in the last few years the Department included in our bond request acquisition funds for this initiative. They have been included by OPB (Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget) in the annual budget proposal and approved through the appropriations process. The state funds are always used in conjunction with other funds in order to stretch state dollars as far as possible on each acquisition.”

You’ll see some of these state funds listed as “GA DNR Bonds.”

“The terms of these bonds are usually 20 years and are considered long-term,” said Whitney. “They are general obligation bonds backed by the State of Georgia, not revenue bonds. The debt service is paid by the State, not the Department, usually through future tax and other revenues. The debt service is not incurred by the Department itself but the State of Georgia. The bonds in question are not solely distributed to WRD but distributed across other state entities, as well.”

In this article we’ve included the deer-hunting seasons for each of WMA. The legend below will help you figure out what type of hunts are offered.

BO — Buck Only
ES — Either Sex
YO — Youth Only (may shoot)
CI – Check-in hunt. WRD issues tags for harvested deer. All other hunts not labeled are considered “Sign-in hunts,” which means hunters must use their personal tags when harvesting a deer.
(500) — Quota Hunt, No. of Hunters Selected

 

Below are the new properties.

ALAPAHA RIVER WMA
(Lentile Tract)

County: Irwin
Acreage: 6,839 acres
Property Closing Date: June 24, 2016
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 22
  • Firearms (BO): Oct. 28-29
  • Firearms (ES): Nov. 16-18 (CI); Nov. 22-26, Dec. 12-17

General Description:

  • Extensive acres of uplands, including natural and planted stands of longleaf pine habitat. Direct frontage on the Alapaha River. Diverse wetland communities with isolated cypress ponds and river swamps.
  • Provides habitat for at-risk wildlife species, such as the gopher tortoise, striped newt and Eastern indigo snake.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.

Purchase Price: $15,032,563.50

  • Federal funds: US Army ACUB Grant ($4,000,000), USFS: Forest Legacy Grant ($3,500,000), USFWS: Recovery Grant ($2,000,000), USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($1,000,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 135 ($3,532,563.50).
  • Cash donation: Knobloch Family Foundation ($1,000,000).

 

ALLIGATOR CREEK WMA
(Stanley Farms Tract)

County: Wheeler
Acreage: 3,087 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 16, 2016
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Primitive-weapons (ES): Oct. 14-20
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 21-Jan. 14

General Description:

  • Primarily upland sandhill habitats that have scattered sites of native vegetation ground cover, with some areas of upland oak and longleaf pine. Much of the timber was harvested prior to purchasing but will be re-planted to longleaf pine as budgets allow.
  • Good numbers of deer, turkey, hogs.
  • Important gopher tortoise protection property.

Purchase Price: $3,087,540

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Recovery Grant ($850,000), USFWS: P/R Grant ($645,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 141 ($1,092,540).
  • Cash donation: Knobloch Family Foundation ($500,000).

 

ALTAMA PLANTATION WMA

County: Glynn
Acreage: 4,123 acres
Property Closing Date: Sept. 17, 2015
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Nov. 5; Dec. 31-Jan. 14
  • Firearms (ES): Nov. 9-11 (50); Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (50)
  • Firearms (YO, ES): Dec. 27-29

General Description:

  • Tidal freshwater wetlands and pine flatwoods. Five miles of direct water frontage on Altamaha River.
  • Gopher tortoise and endangered Eastern indigo snake habitat.
  • Excellent for hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $3,552,953.33

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Coastal Wetlands Grant ($2,000,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($1,528,800), WRD: Timber Revenue ($17,353.33).
  • Cash donation: Various Donations ($6,800).

 

Altamaha WMA
(BBT Tract)

County: McIntosh
Acreage: 791 acres
Property Closing Date: June 28, 2016
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Primitive-weapons (ES): Oct. 14-20
  • Firearms (BO): Oct. 21-22
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 23-Jan. 14

General Description:

  • Flood plain forests and longleaf pine uplands.
  • Supports gopher tortoise populations.
  • Excellent tract due to location.

Purchase Price: $1,166,316.66

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Coastal Wetlands Grant ($1,000,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($166,316.16).

 

BIG HAMMOCK WMA
(Tillman Tract)

County: Tattnall
Acreage: 322 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 11, 2015
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 11; Oct. 15-20
  • Primitive-weapons (ES): Oct. 12-14
  • Firearms (BO): Nov. 3-4; Dec. 6-9
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 25-28
  • Firearms (YO, ES): Nov. 24-26

General Description:

  • Adjacent (north) of existing WMA and west of Big Hammock Natural Area. Area is about 100 acres of sandhill habitat (extending from the Natural Area), and 221 acres of lowland mixed pine/hardwood (largely clearcut) with cypress/gum sloughs through that area.
  • Key species will be deer, turkey and small game. Hogs also on the area.

Purchase Price: $325,156.02

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($325,156.02).

 

CHATTAHOOCHEE FALL LINE WMA, (Brown Brothers Tract)

County: Talbot
Acreage: 277 acres
Property Closing Date: April 26, 2016
Deer Season: This portion of the WMA will fall under CFL Almo Tract regulations. Only antlered bucks with at least 4 points (1 inch or longer) on one side of the antlers or a 15-inch outside spread are legal.

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 26-28 (150); Nov. 9-11 (150)

General Description:

  • Adjacent (east) to the existing WMA.
  • Additional land in longleaf pine for restoration of native vegetation for gopher tortoise management.
  • Prevent encroachment from an existing sand mine.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $305,000

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($305,000).

 

FALL LINE SANDHILLS WMA
(Coleman Tract)

County: Taylor
Acreage: 1,115 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 19, 2016
Deer Season: The Coleman Tract will fall under regulations for Fall Line Sandhills WMA West.

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Primitive-weapons (ES): Oct. 14-20
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 21-Jan. 14

General Description:

  • Adjacent (east) of the west tract of Sandhills WMA.
  • Additional land in longleaf pine for restoration of native vegetation for gopher tortoise management.
  • Provides excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $2,108,360.56

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($850,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 141 ($758,360.56).
  • Cash donation: Knobloch Family Foundation ($500,000).

 

PAULDING FOREST WMA
(B.M. Jones Company)

County: Paulding
Acreage: 391 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 16, 2016
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Firearms (BO): Nov. 9-10 (CI); Dec. 8-10
  • Firearms (ES): Nov. 11-12 (CI)
  • Firearms (YO, ES): Oct. 14-15 (CI)

General Description:

  • This area has been part of the WMA for many years via annual leases. Now it is permanently protected. The area is located in the headwaters of Raccoon Creek, an ecologically diverse and important tributary of the Etowah River. The tract is pine uplands and hardwood bottoms.

Purchase Price: $978,808.02

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Recovery Grant ($500,000).
  • Cash donation: The Conservation Fund­: Bat Funds ($353,808.02), The Nature Conservancy: Stream Funds ($125,000).

 

PAULDING FOREST WMA
(Forestar)

County: Paulding
Acreage: 500 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 19, 2016
Deer Season: See Paulding Forest WMA (B.M. Jones Company) for hunting regs.

General Description: See Paulding Forest WMA (B.M. Jones Company) for description.

Purchase Price: $1,358,904.17

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Recovery Grant ($500,000), USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($360,000).
  • Cash donation: The Conservation Fund: Bat Funds ($373,904.17), The Nature Conservancy: Stream Funds ($125,000).

 

PAULDING FOREST WMA
(Johnny Monk Tract)

County: Paulding
Acreage: 1,432 acres
Property Closing Date: Sept. 17, 2015
Deer Season: See Paulding Forest WMA (B.M. Jones Company) for hunting regs.

General Description:

  • The uplands are planted in loblolly pine of various ages. Some of the older stands have been thinned, while younger stands have not. The branch bottoms on the tract are primarily hardwood.
  • This tract is contiguous with the rest of Paulding Forest.
  • The state has already prescribed burned a portion of this tract in the winter of 2016 and plan to manage it to favor the montane longleaf and shortleaf pine vegetation community.
  • A Georgia Power ROW runs north/south through the property. The state reports that Georgia Power has been a great partner to work with, enrolling the ROW into a lease agreement to make it available for WMA users. There is a small section of the ROW that is not included. It is located where Johnny Monk Road crosses the powerline. The out portion starts on the north side of the road and is 10 acres in size.
  • Terrain is rolling, but not as steep as some other areas of Paulding Forest.

Purchase Price: $3,446,551.43

  • Federal funds: USFS: Forest Legacy Grant ($3,000,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($437,906.26), WRD Timber Revenue ($8,645.17).

 

PAULDING FOREST WMA
(Corley Tract)

County: Polk
Acreage: 218 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 17, 2015
Deer Season: See Paulding Forest WMA (B.M. Jones Company) for hunting regs.

General Description:

  • This tract is on the north end of Paulding Forest and was formerly part of the Ironstob Hunt Club.
  • The terrain is rolling to steep and forested in mature mixed pine/hardwood timber. Some limited timber harvest was carried out on the ridgetops approximately 25 years ago. There is a wide variety of oak species, as well as longleaf pine on this tract.
  • Plans to manage to favor the montane longleaf and shortleaf pine vegetation community.

Purchase Price: $523,082.82

  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($138,282.82).
  • Cash donation: The Conservation Fund: Bat Funds ($384,800).

 

PAULDING FOREST WMA
(Tidwell Tract)

County: Polk
Acreage: 80 acres
Property Closing Date: June 24, 2016
Deer Season: See Paulding Forest WMA (B.M. Jones Company) for hunting regs.

General Description:

  • Located on the southern side of the Boy Scout Loop Road.
  • This tract is unique in that it is forested in 100-year-old natural timber. Species composition is a mixture of longleaf pine, shortleaf pine and a wide variety of hardwood species.

Purchase Price: $200,000

  • Federal funds: USFS: Forest Legacy Grant ($143,420).
  • Cash donation: R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation via the Mountain Conservation Trust Grant ($56,580).

 

SANSAVILLA WMA
(Sansavilla, Stage 1)

County: Wayne
Acreage: 3,012 acres
Property Closing Date: June 27, 2016
Deer Season:

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-20; Sept. 25-Oct. 3; Oct. 9-20
  • Firearms (BO): Oct. 21-Nov. 5
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 5-7 (CI); Nov. 18-Dec. 31
  • Firearms (YO, ES): Sept. 22-24 (CI)

General Description:

  • Tidal wetlands and adjacent uplands, bottomland hardwood and pine forests with 14 miles of frontage on the Altamaha River.
  • More than 100 rare plants and animals occur here, 15 species are federally listed as threatened or endangered, and 17 are state listed and are considered globally rare or imperiled. Tremendous potential for restoring longleaf pine and wire grass.
  • Excellent hunting and fishing opportunities.

Purchase Price: $4,670,000

  • Federal funds: USFWS: NAWCA Grant ($1,000,000).
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($2,202,563.50), GA DNR Bond 135 ($967,436.50).
  • Cash donation: Knobloch Family Foundation ($500,000).

 

SANSAVILLA WMA
(Sansavilla, Stage 2)

County: Wayne
Acreage: 4,500 acres
Property Closing Date: Dec. 16, 2016
Deer Season: See Sansavilla WMA, Stage 1 for hunting regs.

General Description: Same as Sansavilla WMA, Stage 1.

Purchase Price: $3,842,486.94

  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 141 ($3,836,821.02), other state funds ($5,665.92).


SPREWELL BLUFF WMA
(Alexander 1 & 2)

County: Meriwether and Talbot
Acreage: 2,720 acres
Property Closing Date: Sept. 29, 2016
Deer Season: Alexander 1 & 2 will fall under regulations for Sprewell Bluff WMA West. Bucks must have 4 points one-inch or longer on a side.

  • Archery (ES): Sept. 9-Oct. 13
  • Primitive-weapons (ES): Oct. 14-20
  • Firearms (ES): Oct. 21-Jan. 14

General Description (Alexander 1):

  • Adjoins (west) Pigeon Creek Tract of the WMA.
  • This tract will undergo a transformation from loblolly plantation to longleaf in the next few years. Natural forest types remain on the steep ground and the hollows, including abundant old growth longleaf pine.
  • Exceptionally clean creeks full of rhododendron look more like north Georgia mountains.
  • Great shoal bass along Pigeon Creek off of the Flint River.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
  • Golden eagles frequent this tract in winter.

General Description (Alexander 2):

  • Adjacent to and connects the Pigeon Creek and Nichols Tracts of the WMA.
  • Steep and rugged, a mixture of old growth longleaf pine along Pigeon Creek and young longleaf pine elsewhere. Provides approximately 2 miles of frontage on the Flint River. Great views of distant mountains and the Flint River.
  • Exceptional plant diversity, including the largest population of the rare lily xerophyllum asphodeloides.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $4,358,124

  • Federal funds: USFWS: Pittman-Robertson Grant ($2,000,000)
  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($905,615.20), GA DNR Bond 141 ($702,508.80)
  • Cash donation: NFWF ($375,000), Knobloch Family Foundation ($375,000)

SPREWELL BLUFF WMA
(Beasley)

County: Meriwether
Acreage: 233 acres
Property Closing Date: Sept. 29, 2016
Deer Season: See Sprewell Bluff WMA (Alexander 1 and 2) for hunting regs.

General Description:

  • An inholding of the Alexander 1 purchase on the northern edge of the WMA.
  • Natural forest types including old growth longleaf pine and abundant hardwoods.
  • Remote and steep, great for hunting.
  • Provides additional access from a county road on the north side.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $384,936.75

  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 120 ($384,936.75).


SPREWELL BLUFF WMA
(Catchmark)

County: Meriwether
Acreage: 494 acres
Property Closing Date: Sept. 29, 2016
Deer Season: See Sprewell Bluff WMA (Alexander 1 and 2) for hunting regs.

General Description:

  • An inholding of the Alexander 1, this tract includes the iconic Rockhouse Mountain along the Flint River.
  • Recent clearcuts have reforested to longleaf pine.
  • Tickfarm Campground affords year-round access to the Flint River for hunters, paddlers and shoal bass fishing.
  • Historic red-cockaded woodpecker cavities are found in many of the old growth longleaf stands.
  • Excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Purchase Price: $692,547.80

  • State funds: GA DNR Bond 141 ($442,547.80).

• Cash donation: NFWF ($125,000), Knobloch Family Foundation ($125,000).

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