Jenkins County Succsess Stories
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Don I. Burke has enrolled an 81.6 acre tract adjacent to Big Dukes Pond in the Wetlands Reserve Program. Big Dukes Pond is a 1,300-acre Grady Cypress Pond and was acquired in 1999 by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR).
It is home to the endangered wood stork as well as the Canby’s dropwort, a plant found only in Georgia. Working in partnership with GA-DNR, other landowners with property totaling 444 acres adjacent to Big Dukes Pond have applied to enroll their land into the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).
The goal of the WRP is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled. NRCS will develop and implement a conservation plan to address restoring this site to its natural hydrology. Work to be done will include plugging a drainage ditch as well as using prescribed burning to control unwanted vegetation and enhance wildlife habitat.
In exchange for establishing this permanent easement, Mr. Burke receives a one time payment up to the appraised agricultural value of the land and 100 percent of the restoration costs.
Benefits of the Wetland Reserve Program include improved water quality, reduced flood risk, and the creation of waterfowl and shorebird habitats in areas of critical habitat need. Landowners profit from recreational activities and lease hunting while maintaining control of access to the land.
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