Director's Update
by Carla on May 30th, 2018

Remembering Both The Forests and The Trees

By Steffney Thompson, Executive Director

I wish I could say that I had been planning ORLT's 25th anniversary celebration for a long while, doing lots of deep thinking about the organization's journey and work.

Instead, it was only when reading Lee Shearer’s January 23, 2018, article (see page 4) about the conservation easement that ORLT Chair Smith Wilson and his wife, Dianne Penny, established for their Athens farm that I realized:

ORLT has been in existence for 25 years! We need to stop our work long enough to celebrate! (Watch for an invite later this year!)

Founded to help the local greenway effort, ORLT has grown from an all-volunteer organization to five busy, full-time staff members. We’ve expanded our conservation reach from Athens outwards and have protected more than 32,000 acres in 32 counties.

We don’t just protect land along the Oconee Rivers, either. Our conservation easements conserve many types of undeveloped land from forests to farms in watersheds across the state, including the Alcovy, Apalachee, Broad, Chattahoochee, Flint, Ocmulgee, and Ogeechee.

I am lucky enough to visit almost every single property we work to conserve, and every time, even on the hottest, most humid day when I am not entirely thrilled to be out tromping in the woods, I am reminded of the quiet beauty of the undisturbed beech forest, the busy life of the beaver swamp, the lift to the heart generated by an open meadow, and the amazing tenacity of the life that survives on bare granite.

It is a privilege to walk these beautiful properties and to work with their conservation-minded landowners.

In 2017, ORLT permanently protected over 6,000 additional acres on 28 properties. I am looking forward to walking in more forests, testing my growing knowledge of trees, and being reminded again why we do this work: Beautiful land, cleaner streams, fresh air, and the landowners who steward that land

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