581 Acres Permanently Protected As Part of Bond Swamp NWR

June 22, 2010

The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, announced today the protection of 581 acres of key habitat and wildlife lands as part of the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge located six miles south of Macon, Georgia.

Consisting both of grasslands and wetlands, this valuable acreage provides excellent habitat for one of the most significant concentrations of wintering waterfowl in middle Georgia including mallard, American black duck, blue winged teal, wood deck, and ring-necked ducks.

"This is a significant piece of unfragmented waterfowl habitat land for the refuge," said Richard Tucker, The Trust for Public Land's project manager. "TPL is glad to have played a part to conserve this critical property to enhance the refuge and help protect a valuable ecosystem."

Funding to protect this property came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), appropriated by Congress in October 2009, and from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. The LWCF uses revenues generated from offshore oil and gas drilling leases to acquire critical new lands. Efforts are underway in Congress now to permanently fund the program at its fully authorized annual level of $900 million.

"This important piece of property represents a significant investment in Georgia's rich natural resources and preserves critical habitat and wildlife lands for future generations," U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said.

The land will provide excellent wood duck breeding and brood-rearing habitat. According to the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, the Ocmulgee/Altamaha River corridor is one of the most heavily utilized waterfowl flyways through Georgia. The river system is the primary migration route from north and central Georgia to the coast. The refuge and surrounding lands form one of the largest remaining blocks of forested wetlands in Georgia, and their preservation is critical to many species of land birds that require large, relatively unfragmented forest systems to successfully breed and sustain their populations.

Established in 1989, Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was created to protect, maintain, and enhance the ecosystem of the Ocmulgee River floodplain. The refuge currently consists of 6,500 acres of diverse habitat types ranging from mixed hardwood ridges to bottomland hardwood swamp forests, creeks and beaver swamps, and oxbow lakes and wetlands associated with the river.

The Ocmulgee River and surrounding forests have been an important part of Macon's history and development. In recent years, the Macon area has experienced rapid development through residential and commercial expansion. To protect and manage the river corridor, concerned citizens along with local, state and federal government agencies initiated the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway project. Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is an important link in the proposed Greenway, which will create an integrated system of scenic, historic and recreational resources along the Ocmulgee River for the public's enjoyment. Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge fills a vital role along the Greenway by providing a place for the conservation and management of the fish, wildlife, and plants of the Ocmulgee River ecosystem.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the premier federal program to conserve lands throughout the nation. The LWCF is a critical tool to acquire inholdings, expansions of public lands, and new federal designations throughout the national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, wild and scenic river corridors, national scenic and historic trails, the Bureau of Land Management lands and other federal areas. A bill called The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2009, (S. 2747), has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would guarantee dedicated funding to the program. Efforts are now underway in Congress to fully fund the program.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres of land nationwide. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.