In honor of the second week of Environmental Awareness Month this September, Georgia Power is highlighting its efforts around protecting sensitive species such as the gopher tortoise, which is Georgia’s state reptile and considered a keystone species.
“Georgia Power’s management practices on company lands and power line corridors contribute significantly to conservation efforts designed both to enhance tortoise populations and prevent the need for a federal listing of the tortoise,” said Jim Ozier, environmental biologist for Georgia Power.
At Georgia Power our projects work towards conservation, restoration and awareness, so that future generations will have a prosperous, healthy and beautiful place to call home.
There are four major conservation areas the company is highlighting as a part of Environmental Awareness Month. Last week, the company featured its land management practices, including maintaining and operating over 100,000 acres of land, 60,000 acres of water and more than 15 lake properties. The remaining focus areas are: Sensitive Species, Waterways and Habitats.
Week 2: We Protect Sensitive Species
Gopher Tortoise: The gopher tortoise is a burrowing land turtle that occurs over much of Georgia’s coastal plain but is a candidate for federal listing because of serious declines and continuing significant threats. Designated Georgia’s state reptile in 1989, the gopher tortoise is one of the oldest living species native to Georgia. The gopher tortoise belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago and is considered a keystone species of longleaf pine forests. Its burrows and presence support hundreds of species.
- Georgia Power is a participant in the multi-state Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Gopher Tortoise – Eastern Population as well as Georgia’s Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative partnership.
- Tortoises on the company’s land near Plants Hatch and Vogtle contribute to sustainable landscape population goals that include neighboring public conservation lands. The longleaf pine forests where the tortoises thrive have given way to tree plantations, development and other land uses, therefore beneficial management of the gopher tortoise habitat includes prescribed burning and longleaf pine planting.
- Additionally, Plant Vogtle has served as a release site for several tortoises that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) needed to relocate from sites that were to be destroyed.
SOURCE Georgia Power