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spectr17
02-29-2008, 11:38 AM
NWTF to Help Manage Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

2/29/08

EDGEFIELD, South Carolina The National Wild Turkey Federation has signed a 10-year stewardship agreement with the USDA-Forest Service to help manage the 860,000-plus-acre Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in north-central Georgia.

Projects completed through this agreement are designed to protect, improve, restore, and maintain habitat for a variety of wildlife species including wild turkeys. Some projects will include thinning or removing timber, prescribed fire, vegetation management and road restoration.

"Reaching this agreement with the Forest Service is an incredible opportunity for the NWTF," says Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF's senior vice president for conservation programs for the NWTF. "Both the NWTF and the Forest Service share an interest in wildlife conservation, and the NWTF brings an established network of partners and volunteers to help further our common mission."

Projects will be completed throughout the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which is divided into four separate Ranger Districts (RDs): The Oconee RD, the Chattooga River RD, the Blue Ridge RD and the Conasauga RD.

"The NWTF's volunteers and members have worked hard to fund projects that benefit wild turkeys and other wildlife throughout Georgia and the nation," Kennamer said. "We are committed to conserving wildlife habitat and preserving the hunting tradition, and have collaborated with federal and state wildlife agencies and other project partners to improve habitat on public, private and corporate lands."

The NWTF currently has a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Forest Service stating that both parties will work to benefit wild turkeys and their habitat on National Forest system lands. The recent agreement on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National forest supports the standing MOU.

"We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation and will use the Stewardship Agreement as a tool to accomplish a variety of habitat improvements," said Georgia Forest Supervisor George Bain. "We also feel this agreement will help us improve the overall forest health of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. We expect to achieve land management goals that will contribute to improving local and rural community needs as well."

The NWTF plans to incorporate its Environmental Education, Energy For Wildlife and outreach programs including Women in the Outdoors, JAKES/Xtreme JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge Ethics and Sportsmanship) and Wheelin' Sportsmen, into the management plan, and also will involve the NWTF's volunteers and chapters in Georgia as the planning continues.

Media Contact:
Brian Dowler, NWTF, (803) 637-3106 or bdowler@nwtf.net.