MCT Partnerships and Milestones


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Burnt Mountain Preserve 

  • 1991
    • Pickens County residents organized and convinced Georgia Pacific not to exercise timber rights on the steep southwestern slopes of Burnt Mountain. This success empowered the group to form a nonprofit land conservation association: Oglethorpe Wilderness Land Trust (OWLT).
  • 1998
    • Private landowners and Georgia Tech/Board of Regents donated development rights and placed over 350 acres in conservation easements to protect the summit of Burnt Mountain and its steep slopes. This was the beginning of the Burnt Mountain Scenic Preserve. Partners included Trust for Public Land Rand Wentworth, Georgia Environmental Policy Institute, The Georgia Land Trust Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. These properties under conservation easement include:
      • 27 acres, Board of Regents, Pickens County
      • 12 acres, William/Adams Family, Pickens County
      • 350 acres, Tate Mountain Estates, Pickens County
  • OWLT changed its name to the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (MCTGA).
  • MCTGA and Pickens County used $750,000 in Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation purchased 756 acres of Burnt Mountain acreage.
  • Pickens County agreed to provide a match of the TE funds to assist MCTGA with the purchase of adjacent Burnt Mountain land (now known as Monument Falls), to protect it from an out-of-state developer.
  • 2000
    • Phase I of the Burnt Mountain land procurement was completed with the transfer of 396 acres into Pickens County ownership.
  • 2001
    • An additional $750,000, including funds from Greenspace Funding and Bent Tree Saddle Club, was awarded to complete the purchase of the remaining 360 acres of Phase II land procurement.

Upper Etowah River Alliance

  • 1999
    • MCTGA joined the Steering Committee of Upper Etowah River Alliance.
    • MCTGA held community meetings in Pickens, Dawson, Forsyth, Cherokee, and Lumpkin counties and learns that residents’ top concern is water quality, including Long Swamp Creek near Pickens County High School.
  • MCTGA, Georgia Forest Watch, and others spread the word about the Chattahoochee National Forest Revision Plan and to protect “Georgia’s Mountain Treasures.”
  • 2001
    • MCTGA coordinated a new partnership to create an outdoor classroom focused on protecting Long Swamp Creek. Partners include Pickens County High School, Limestone Valley RCD, Georgia Forestry Commission, The Upper Etowah River Alliance, USDA/NRCS, and Limestone Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.
  • 2002
    • The establishment of the Burnt Mountain Preserve is completed.
  • 2003
    • Study of Long Swamp Creek began.
    • MCTGA and other GA land trusts form Alliance and initiate Long Swamp Creek Watershed Project.
    • Georgia Scenic Byway status explored for Burnt Mountain Preserve.
    • Volunteers (Don Wells, Robert Anderson) map trails in Burnt Mountain Preserve.
    • MCTGA joined Wild Georgia Coalition led by Georgia Forest Watch to support the U.S. Forest Service Draft Management Plan for the Chattahoochee/Oconee National Forests.
    • Greenspace funding lost because of State of Georgia budget crunch
  • 2004
    • Landowner Thomas Rhodes placed 66 acres in permanent conservation easement to serve as a buffer next to the Rich Mountain Wilderness and the Chattahoochee National Forest in Gilmer County.
      • “I did not think it was a healthy use of the wilderness for a bunch of cabins to be built right up against the wilderness boundary.”
    • MCTGA encouraged citizens to vote for the proposed Pickens County Land Use Intensity District Ordinance to prevent the haphazard manner of growth.
    • Mining halted on Champion Creek that flows into Long Swamp Creek, just above Jasper’s water intake. A permanent injunction issued to stop strip mining that caused siltation into Champion and Long Swamp Creeks.
  • 2005
    • Governor Sonny Perdue reinstated the Greenspace Program with bonds that Governor Roy Barnes established for Georgia’s fastest-growing counties and established the Advisory Council for the Georgia Land Conservation Partnership appointed to serve on the Council.
    • Amicalola Falls Scenic Byway approved by Georgia Department of Transportation.
    • Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forest Management Plan completed.
    • The Etowah Scenic River Committee lobbied the Dawson County Commission to recommend that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiated a scenic river study on 14.4 miles of the Amicalola River, from Linsey Ford to the confluence of the Etowah River. The study included 6.8 miles of the Etowah, which flows across the city of Atlanta tract.
    • MCTGA supported the Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Pickens County selected as a pilot because open land is available and existing land-use plans are in place.
    • Ellijay botanist Tom Govus conducted a biological inventory of Long Swamp Creek Gorge and documented over 170 species of plants.
    • MCTGA Executive Director Barbara Decker retired.
  • 2006
    • Robert Keller named Executive Director of MCT.
    • Construction began in the outdoor classroom at Pickens High School.
    • MCTGA established Conservation Buyers Program for members.
    • First Mushroom Madness fungi inventory held in the Long Swamp Creek Gorge.
    • MCTGA launched Conservation Speakeasy, a monthly series of social, educational events for members.
  • 2007
    • MCTGA continued to obtain conservation easements that permanently protect important properties, including land near Talking Rock Creek and substantial frontage on the Ellijay River owned by the City of East Ellijay.
    • 5-acres, Hammond property, Pickens County. Includes a section of Talking Rock Creek of the Etowah River watershed.
    • 6 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Gilmer County. This property borders the Cartecay River near the confluence with the Ellijay River to form the Coosawattee River.
    • 29 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Kowalski/Bell property, Cherokee County. Includes important wetlands and borders the McGraw-Ford Wildlife Management Area.
    • 12 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Betts property, Pickens County. Includes the East Branch of Long Swamp Creek.
    • The Pickens County Commission and commissioners from several adjoining counties established the North Georgia Conservation Loop to protect the watershed surrounding Long Swamp Creek, the Etowah River, and Amicalola Creek.
      • The North Georgia Conservation Loop is a plan created by the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia, supported by a 5-county consortium (Cherokee, Dawson, Gilmer, Forsyth, and Pickens) in tandem with several federal, state, and local land conservation groups. The plan is to protect the critical water resources of the 5-county area by protecting the land adjacent to streams and rivers.
    • MCTGA Executive Director Robert Keller was elected president of the State Association of Land Trusts.
    • MCTGA continues to fulfill its pledge to be stewards of mountains through support for the Pickens High School Nature Trail. The 1.6-mile trail, one of the most prolific wildflower sites in north Georgia, includes a 1,200-foot section that is ADA-compliant.
  • 2008
    • The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced that MCTGA was awarded accredited status, the first in the state to achieve the status. Accreditation required an extensive external review of governance and management of the organization and MCTGA land protection systems and policies.
    • Pickens County with support from MCTGA purchased a 67-acre tract of land off of state highway 136 to add to the Burnt Mountain Preserve.
    • 10.5 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Sembler property, Cherokee County near the city of Canton. Allows for low-impact outdoor recreation and the creation of a pedestrian trail on the property.
  • 2009
    • 24 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Falinski property, part of the Etowah River watershed in rural Pickens County. In the Etowah River watershed.
    • 70 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Valley View Farm on the Etowah River near Cartersville in Bartow County. Historic and valuable agricultural land.
    • MCTGA published its first e-newsletter.
    • Mark Dickerson is named Interim Executive Director upon the resignation of Robert Keller.
  • 2010
    • 540 acres in a permanent conservation easement, undeveloped Yellow Creek Road property, Cherokee County. Bordered on the west and south by the Etowah River.
    • MCTGA named Liz Cole as the new Executive Director.
    • MCTGA collaborated with Georgia DNR to acquire 469 acres in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.
    • Joining The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Woodruff Foundation, R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, and the State of Georgia, MCTGA contributed $150,000 to the $3.3 million needed to purchase land from The Nature Conservancy.
  • 2011
    • MCTGA celebrated 20 years.
    • MCTGA completed Greenprint Pickens, a planning process that identified areas for cultural and natural resource protection as well as lands for developing parks, greenways, and blueways.
  • 2012
    • MCTGA named Pamela Sunderland as the new Executive Director.
    • MCTGA’s new 3-year strategic plan identified the Trust’s intention to focus on land protection strategies to implement the following science-based plans and programs:
      • The Nature Conservancy – Etowah Land Prioritization Plan
      • The Nature Conservancy/Environmental Law Institute – Etowah Watershed Pilot Mitigation Plan
      • Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Wildlife Action Plan
      • S. Forest Service Forests to Faucets Initiative in collaboration with American Rivers & The Forest Guild
      • S. Fish and Wildlife Services Endangered Species Act Habitat Conservation Program
      • S. Army Corp of Engineers Clean Water Act Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program
    • developed easement and stewardship documents for a 950-acre riparian forest preserve at Shoal Creek (Etowah) to protect upland habitats important to endangered and threatened aquatic species and one of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls.
    • provided conservation planning and funding guidance on conservation of a 116-acre forested tract at Clay Creek (Upper Chattahoochee).
    • completed estate conservation planning of an 80-acre flood plain and forest wildlife preserve with historic residence on Wild Cat Creek and Town Creek (Coosawatee).
    • provided ongoing consultation to the owner of an 80-acre cattle farm along Woodward Creek (Oostenaula) for the preservation of water resources, wetlands, and rare plant communities.
    • facilitated acquisition negotiations and funding mechanisms for the protection of a 280-acre forested tract connected to Burnt Mountain Preserve at Champion Creek (Etowah).
    • provided conservation planning and funding guidance on a 220-acre forested tract and waterfall at Rock Creek (Conasauga).
    • completed a 5,000-acre pilot sub-watershed adaptive management plan and parcel prioritization in support of The Nature Conservancy’s Etowah Watershed Land Prioritization Plan.
    • provided funding assistance and support to the Department of Natural Resources for the acquisition of 1,000 acres of priority upland habitat adjacent to Sheffield Forest near Raccoon Creek (Etowah).
    • proposed conservation strategies for a 750-acre tract in foreclosure along the main stem of the Etowah River.
    • defended a legacy conservation easement for a scenic overlook devised as part of an estate plan under challenge by prospective heirs (Hiawassee).
    • provided consultation and community guidance for implementing regional conservation and historic preservation plans within the Sautee Nacoochee Valley and historic district (Upper Chattahoochee).
    • conducted a feasibility study of mitigation bank stewardship program in coordination with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Law Institute for directing and utilizing wetland and stream mitigation funds for land protection.
    • provided acquisition funding and project support for the construction of the Etowah River Boat Launch in the City of Canton for access to the Etowah Canoe Trail.
    • provided Statement of Support and existing MCT easement mapping as part of the Southern Blue Ridge Landscape Collaborative Proposal to connect Federal and State Forests and conservation easements for a regional forested wilderness landscape.
  • 2014
    • MCTGA named George D. Kimberly as Executive Director. He previously served as Land Acquisition Director at the Catawba Lands Conservancy/Caroline Thread Trail in Charlotte, NC. He also served as Development Director and Executive Director of the Edisto Island Open Land Trust in South Carolina.
    • MCTGA collaborated with Georgia DNR to acquire 210 acres in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.
    • 61 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Cedartown property in rural Polk county along Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Coosa River.
  • 2015
    • 514 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Good Neighbor Creek property, Dawson County, adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest.
  • 2016
    • Collaborated with Georgia DNR to acquire 80 acres in the Paulding Forest Wildlife Management Area.
  • 2017
    • 266-acre Forry Farm Preserve placed into a permanent conservation easement and acquired by MCTGA through the generosity of the Forry family, Gilmer County.
    • Forry Farm has hosted numerous events at the farm, including a fall hayride, hikes and cookouts with the local Boys and Girls Club, and excursions with the Mushroom Club of Georgia.
    • Developed a 12-session outdoor education program held at Forry Farm for 5th and 6th graders at Boys and Girls Club in Jasper.
    • 126 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Cochran’s Creek property in rural Dawson County. The conservation easement protects more than 3 miles of intermittent streams, including Cochran’s, Gabb, and Poverty creeks.
    • Completed a strategic conservation plan identifying priority conservation lands in the Etowah River basin.
  • 2018
    • 2,500 acres in a permanent conservation easement, Richards Family, Holly Rock, Gilmer, and Dawson counties. The conservation easement includes more than 3.5 miles of Anderson Creek and related tributaries and is an important connection with nearby conserved lands including the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.
  • 2019
    • Applied for renewal of accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance
  • 2020
    • Received reaccreditation by the Land Trust Alliance

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