Preserving a wildlife sanctuary was no easy task for the Edgy family. When Mike Edgy and his siblings, Charlie Edgy and Ann Distal, set out to restore wetlands on their Brantley County property, they knew they had to find a way to do it with limited funds.
The trio contacted the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Soil Conservation Technician Paul Harris, NRCS Biologist Keith Wooster, and District Conservationist Rita Barrow helped the family find the financial and technical assistance they needed to protect their wetland area located in the Satilla River Corridor.
WRP has helped the Edgys restore and protect, through a perpetual easement, 720 acres around the Satilla River. That land and over 3,000 more acres have been in the family for 100 years.
Parts of the property have been used as timber land for years. But despite running a business centered around cutting down trees, the Edgys have always been conservation minded.
They’ve left buffer zones around the Satilla River over the years. Buffers help protect water and provide cover for wildlife. Even though times became tough for the family a couple of years ago when the economy took a nosedive, they knew regardless of finances, they wanted to protect and preserve wetlands.
“We didn’t want to sell it to a developer,” Mike Edgy explained. They wanted to ensure land around the Satilla River would be perpetually suited for wildlife.
Before the family was awarded a WRP contract, traffic across parts of the wetland area caused problems with erosion and water quality. As a way to cut down on erosion and improve water quality, old improperly sized culverts were removed and rock stream crossings were constructed to make road access more stable.
In total, there were 12 stream crossings built throughout the Edgy property.
The Edgys said because of WRP, the roads around the Satilla River are permanently accessible now on their property. They no longer spend valuable time repairing roads.
Logan Edgy, Mike’s nephew, said “It puts in easements and allows us to put in timber, hunt and preserve the land.”
Soil Conservation Technician Paul Harris said in the time he’s worked with the family over the past two years, he has seen the Edgys’ commitment to wildlife preservation.
“Mike Edgy and his family are very dedicated to it. Mike is very conscious. He will always put conservation first for his kids and grandchildren.”
Mike Edgy who is also a Brantley County commissioner, says he worked with the former Satilla River Keeper, Gordon Rogers, regularly to help educate others in his community about conservation.
“We need to keep our water clean and we need to continue finding ways to protect the Satilla River. Water is our future. It’s our life. If we don’t protect it, we’ll wish we had in the future,” Edgy said.