by Carla on May 30th, 2018

By Denise Horton and ORLT Staff

Jennifer Lytle began joining her attorney father at the office when she was just 4 years old and was drafting pleadings when she was 10.

Born in Athens when her father was attending law school at the University of Georgia, Lytle grew up in Marietta, with a creek that ran through her backyard and provided her first opportunities for experiencing the great outdoors. She also recalls the joy she found visiting Lake Rabun, a Georgia Power lake Known for its clear, clean water.

After earning her undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s in finance, Lytle began working in mergers and acquisitions for the Dutch-based Hagemeyer company. She later accepted a position with another company that led to her focusing on forensic accounting.

“I ended up serving as an interpreter between lawyers and accountants, so that’s when I decided to go to law school,” she says with a chuckle.

As a lawyer, Lytle discovered that legal research and numbers were her forte. She used those skills for several years as a litigator before shifting her focus to other areas of law, including land conservation.

Now Lytle and her family have become conservators of the land, having decided to protect 40 acres of family-owned land in Oglethorpe County themselves with a conservation easement in 2017. The property contains oak-hickory-pine forests as well as a mesic hard wood forest of beech and oak trees. A tributary of Millstone Creek crosses the property, bordered by large, resurrection fern and moss-covered granite boulders. The stream’s forested banks are home to a diversity of wildflowers, including black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum), and Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens). The property is also located less than a mile from 4 other ORLT conservation easements, protecting another 376 acres.

Lytle and her husband, Mark, initially contemplated building a home on the land.

“Mark was an apprentice in the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture,” Lytle explains. “He found boulders that he was going to incorporate into a house.”

However, as time went by, the couple realized that although there was much to appreciate about living in the middle of a large tract of land where their nearest neighbor was a granite quarry, the rural location was a bit too remote for daily life, especially as their children became involved with various school and recreational activities. The Lytles also realized that placing the 40 acres into a conservation easement would permanently protect the beautiful property while still allowing them to establish an organic garden and continue outdoor recreation in an already existing open area.

“Mark has long had a passion for making sure we remember where our food comes from and since part of our property is already cleared and zoned agricultural, we’ve already been able to begin to create several garden beds with the help of an employee who is living there,” Lytle says.

Although the Lytles are avid hunters, Jennifer says hunting won’t be allowed on the family’s property for at least the next several years.

“Hunting is allowed all around that tract so I think it will be nice to provide a small reserve for deer and other animals,” she says. “I plan to put out feed plots that will encourage animals to visit our property. Over time, we might decide to occasionally kill a large deer that we will use as food for our family.”

The Lytles have recently moved into a former cotton mill in the small Northeast Georgia town of Comer that has been restored and renovated by Mark to ensure privacy and modern conveniences while still maintaining much of the traditional architecture. The mill also
houses their offices in an adjoining part of the building.

Lytle says she looks forward to talking further with ORLT land steward Laura Hall regarding management of the conservation easement and to working with other conservationists in finding and protecting land.

by Carla on May 14th, 2018

3 Hikes, 138 Species Spotted

It's been a busy spring for ORLT and for birds alike. Whether or not a hike is specifically intended to be a bird walk or not, there's usually someone in the group who's keeping track of what's seen and heard. The beauty of hiking with nature enthusiasts is that it's impossible to part ways without having learned something new, whether it's the mnemonic of the scarlett tanager (pick-up truck!), or the predatory nesting habits of brown-headed cowbirds (google it- you won't be disappointed).

Anyhow, the point of this blog post is to share with you the bird species that were identified this spring on land protected by ORLT. Thanks to the birders who kept track!

Beech Haven Preserve in Athens (51 species)

Walker Wetlands in Macon (62 species)

Lotsanotty Forest in Jackson County (25 species)

Whether you're counting birds, identifying trees, or simply enjoying the land, we hope to see you on an upcoming hike!

by Carla on February 16th, 2018

ORLT's stewardship team is leading a hike at the Orange Twin conservation easement on Wednesday, February 21 in Clarke County. Hikers will be treated to beautiful streams, hardwood forest, and information about the property's connection to the Orange Twin Conservation Community. This relaxing hike will satisfy ORLT's annual monitoring requirement, which the land trust is required to do with each of its 140 protected properties. This hike will prove that work CAN be fun!

Event Details:

February 21st
10:00AM - 1:00PM

Hikers will need to be comfortable walking on uneven terrain for several miles. There are no facilities, so bringing water and snacks is encouraged. This event is free and open to the public.

To sign-up for this FREE, public hike, email Directions and further information will be sent after you sign-up.

by Carla on February 12th, 2018

Interested in exploring the Tallassee property in Athens, and helping ORLT complete its required annual monitoring visit? Join us on Thursday, February 15th, at 10:00am. All are welcome, no monitoring experience required!

Our stewardship team will lead the walk, although there's no set curriculum for the day. Just enjoying a beautiful forest and what it has to offer. The walk will last for 3 hours or so.

Email for the meeting location or with questions. Hope to see you in the field. Please share with friends!

by Carla on October 27th, 2017

Join Us For a Day of Pitcherplant Habitat Restoration at the
Canoochee Bogs!

Description: Join forces with the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance for some down-and-dirty Autumn Bogging at the Canoochee Bogs! This is a pitcherplant habitat restoration work day as well as opportunity for learning about herbaceous bog ecology and plants. The task will be to cut shrubs to increase pitcherplant habitat. We plan to follow with burning in 2019. Fire will be able to move more effectively through the habitat with lower shrub density.
Date and Time: Thurs. Nov. 16; 10 AM to 4:00 PM— but you may leave early if needed. Option afterwards for BBQ / semi-veggie sides at Harry’s BBQ in the town of Hagan nearby.
Meeting Location: We will meet at 10:00 AM, town of Bellville, Evans County, at the SW corner of the intersection of State Hwys. 292 and 169. There is a good parking lot here at a restored train depot.
Bring: Work gloves, loppers, hand saws, and/or hand-pruners. Sun protection is critical, as well as lunch and water.
RSVP: Please RSVP! to Lisa Kruse,

Events (4)