“Cartersville Ranch is looking forward to co-hosting — with the City of Euharlee — the hikes at the Dobbins Mountain wildlife refuge,” said Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch. “The hike later this month will occur at the peak fall migration time for the warblers and other neotropical birds heading to Mexico, Central America and South America for the winter. The events will display why these birds are attracted to the contiguous forest habitat, which is protected by the conservation easement. The easement allows these birds to rest and build up reserves for their strenuous flights south. Additionally, the wildflower hike will showcase the recently-discovered population of beautiful Georgia asters in bloom.”
The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers, is participating in the outings. Public access has been limited to protect refuge habitat and species.
The announced series of educational hikes is consistent with the major purpose of the conservation easement, which is to preserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Also, the hikes are consistent with the conservation values, set forth in the recorded conservation easement document.
“The scheduled field trips through the conservation easement are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to educate those interested in the many natural treasures of Bartow County,” said Euharlee Trish Sullivan. “Participants will be able to fully experience the abundance of birds and native plants that make the Euharlee wildlife refuge so unique and essential to our community.”
Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, will lead the birding hike through the wildlife refuge to coincide with the fall migration. Last year, Spence completed 24 trips to the refuge and he documented the presence of 149 different bird species within the survey area of Cartersville Ranch. He also discovered 89 unique bird species within the boundaries of the wildlife refuge; more than half of those species were neotropical migratory birds that breed in the United States and during the winter in Mexico, Central America and South America.
Of the 89 species observed within the wildlife refuge, 10 are currently on the Important Bird Area Priority List, a special conservation status: Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Cape May Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Worm-eating Warbler and Wood Thrush.
Jim Allison, a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers, butterfly enthusiast and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, will lead the wildflower hike at Dobbins Mountain. In 2011, Allison conducted plant surveys on 12 separate visits to the Euharlee wildlife refuge, and observed and photographed a total of 88 diverse native flowing plants within the refuge. His most important find was nearly 600 Georgia aster flowering stems discovered in bloom at Dobbins Mountain last fall.
The Georgia aster is a state-protected and federal candidate species, and the population found at Dobbins Mountain is one of the largest remaining populations in the state. The Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR characterized the new discovery as significant. Its name and beauty have made it a candidate to replace the Cherokee Rose as the state flower.
Allison also discovered a population of native orchids — the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper — within the borders of the refuge. Participants are expected to see a variety of fall wildflowers, including bird’s foot violet, blue sage, downy lobelia, false dandelion, grass-leaved golden aster, Kuhnia, narrow false foxglove, rabbit tobacco, small-head sunflower, small-leaf white snakeroot, starved aster, stiffleaf coreopsis, wedgeleaf thoroughwort, white wingstem and many more.