The gopher tortoise seems an unlikely keystone species.
Slow and secretive, Georgia’s state reptile leads a quiet life in the sandy lands of the Coastal Plain.
But the long burrows that tortoises dig shelter hundreds of other animal species. The plant-and fruit-eating turtles also disperse seeds and improve germination.
In sum, the gopher tortoise is key to the survival of many other species and the ecosystem’s health.
There are also keystone concepts for conserving rare wildlife. Two of those concepts are educate and engage.
At the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, we have a deep stake in each.
About 100,000 students and adults visit the seven regional education centers we operate with local schools, the Regional Educational Service Agency and others each year. Here, hands-on experiences bring home the value of resource stewardship and the fun of outdoors recreation.
Hundreds of young Georgians also learn about wildlife at our Youth Birding Competition and Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest each spring. Year-round, we reach thousands young and old through events like Claxton’s Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival, our award-winning social media sites and e-newsletter, wildlife cams that live-stream eagles, falcons and fish, and scientifically sound resources we provide online such as rare species range maps and profiles.
Why do this?
Because a greater understanding and appreciation of wildlife is the cornerstone of conservation. On this enhanced awareness, Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section builds public and private partnerships to restore and protect rare wildlife.
The connection is clear in our work with the sandhill and upland longleaf pine habitats that gopher tortoises need. In recent years, we teamed with agencies, nonprofits and private landowners to apply prescribed fire and other beneficial measures to 50,000 acres. The Department used the same partnership approach to acquire about 125,000 acres of high-priority habitat along the Altamaha River.
These accomplishments could not have happened without widespread acceptance of the importance of these practices and places for native Georgia wildlife.
As part of Weekend for Wildlife, you share in this mission. The Nongame Conservation Section depends primarily on contributions to conserve rare and other nongame, and this exclusive event is our leading fundraiser.
Which makes you a keystone supporter of keystone wildlife … like the gopher tortoise.
Join the Governor, First Lady and DNR Commissioner Mark Williams for the 28th annual Weekend for Wildlife, Jan. 29-30 at the Cloister resort, Sea Island.
Visit wild coastal places on trips led by experts. Enjoy a Friday night cocktail reception and silent auction rich in getaways, artwork and wildlife memorabilia. Revel in Saturday night’s exciting banquet and verbal auction.
Weekend for Wildlife is one of the nation’s most successful conservation events, raising some $10 million for conserving Georgia nongame—native wildlife not legally fished for or hunted.
The 2016 Weekend will continue to provide valuable support for the DNR Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section, which depends largely on fund-raising, grants and direct contributions for its vital mission: conserving nongame. These plants and animals include hundreds of special concern species such as Georgia aster and golden-winged warblers. Nongame, and the habitats they depend on, enrich our lives, our economy and our future.
Through the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, Weekend for Wildlife will also strengthen the broad mission of DNR, to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations.
“Weekend for Wildlife generates support and builds awareness for the conservation of Georgia’s rarest wildlife and habitats,” said Gov. Deal. “This annual event helps us meet the conservation challenges of today and reminds us of our responsibility to ensure that the state’s diverse wildlife and natural resources are available to the generations of tomorrow.”
To Our Corporate Sponsors: “Thank You!”
You may browse this years selection of trips using the link below.Trips
Overdressing is recommended! Winter temperatures on the coast vary widely. Boating trips are more exposed to the elements.
Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent. Binoculars are also handy.
Arrive 15 minutes before the trip starting time. This helps ensure that trips leave on time, for the convenience and enjoyment of the entire group.
While weather affects all outdoor trips, for those rated weather-dependent, conditions are critical for safety and other issues. We will work to alert you as soon as possible if a trip is cancelled and advise you of other options.
Our staff can advise you on trips that require extensive walking or strenuous activity.
We can also recommend the trips most suitable for your children based on their age.
The 2016 General Registration Brochure is now available. Please review it to learn about this year’s event and the many exciting trips offered during the weekend. Register for the event at the link below.Event Brochure Registration Form
Once your registration is received, staff will send you a confirmation letter that also will indicate your trip selections. Please remember that trips are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We will make every effort to schedule you for your first-choice trips.
Weekend for Wildlife registration and donation fees are refundable if cancellation is received by Dec. 28, 2015. After this date, only the donation fee is refundable. A Social Security number is required in order to process your cancellation.
Corporate Sponsors may download a copy of the 2016 Sponsorship Opportunities brochure and make pledges using the links below. Pledges may also be made by contacting Robin Hill (706.557.3325). We will contact you shortly after receipt of your pledge to confirm arrangements.
When you are ready to proceed with registration please contact Melissa Cummings (706.557.3326) or complete the pledge form below and we will reach out to you soon.Brochure Pledge Form
In 2015, the Weekend for Wildlife silent and verbal auctions raised nearly $180,000 for wildlife conservation. These auctions continue to play an important role in this annual fundraiser and donations for this year’s event currently are being accepted. Items typically include nature-themed artwork, guided outdoor adventures, outdoor sporting gear and unique collectibles.
The following are ways you can help:
To donate, please complete the form below. Please submit the form and send your donation to Linda May by December 31, 2015.Linda May GA DNR/Weekend for Wildlife 116 Rum Creek Drive Forsyth, GA 31029 Dear Donors Auction Form