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Massive tract along Altahama bought for preservation
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The Nature Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announce the protection of a 3,986 acre tract known as Altama along Georgia’s Altamaha River, in Glynn County near Interstate 95.  

This land features extensive tidal freshwater wetlands and pine flatwoods and provides substantial habitat for wildlife including Georgia’s official state reptile, the gopher tortoise, and the federally endangered Eastern indigo snake. Future restoration, including management with prescribed fire and longleaf pine plantings, will improve the native habitats found here. 

This acquisition, which will become part of the state-owned and managed Altamaha Wildlife Management Area, also will provide an expansive outdoor recreation area for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits, while protecting water quality in the river, creeks, and estuaries of the Altamaha River, the largest recreational and commercial fishery in Georgia. 

“The Nature Conservancy and many partners have protected more than 140,000 acres in the Altamaha River basin,” said Deron Davis, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia. “Thanks to our supporters and partners, this important asset to Georgia’s natural, outdoor and historical heritage will be protected.” 

Altama was protected through a partnership made up of The Nature Conservancy, the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Marine Corps,  with significant assistance from private foundations. 

After lengthy negotiations in partnership with DNR, The Nature Conservancy purchased the tract for $7.8 million from Stratford Land, a private-equity real estate firm. The Conservancy sold a restrictive easement to the U.S. Marine Corps, which seeks to create land-use buffers between communities and military activity that can also protect habitat and provide recreational lands. DNR then purchased the property from The Nature Conservancy at a discounted price.  

“It is our goal to give the citizens of Georgia as many opportunities as possible to enjoy the incredibly diverse natural areas of our state,” said Mark Williams, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “We are excited to open Altama to visitors in the coming year.” 

Altama was once a rice plantation owned by James Hamilton Couper, famous for leading the survey for the Georgia-Florida boundary and designing Christ Church in Savannah. The Eastern indigo snake’s scientific name, Drymarchon couperi, honors Couper, as the first recorded specimen was collected by him in 1842 on the grounds of Altama.