Georgia DNR Adds DOT Acres to Manage for Hunting, Fishing, & Wildlife

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Georgia DNR Adds DOT Acres to Manage for Hunting, Fishing, & WildlifeIn September of last year, a hunter in middle Georgia called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources saying he had just lost his hunting lease. Opening day was only a few weeks away and he was frantically searching for a place to hunt.

Sound familiar?

As land is sold, hunting leases are often terminated. Some hunters who have hunted on the same lands for years suddenly find themselves with no place to hunt. Others simply can no longer afford the high cost of leases.

But hunters have another option. For $19 a year they can access more than 900,000 acres on 99 different wildlife management areas (WMAs) and natural areas across the state.

There’s even better news: The available property just increased by more than 10,000 acres.

In mid-September, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the state’s Department of Natural Resources signed an agreement through which the DNR will begin managing some Department of Transportation lands for hunting and fishing. The DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division will manage nine of these tracts. One, Oliver Bridge in Bulloch County, will be a stand-alone WMA, while six will be added to current WMAs. The remaining two tracts will be added to natural areas the division manages.

The agreement between the two agencies is designed to protect the natural resources on these tracts. Those resources include game and nongame wildlife, rare species of plants and animals, and wetlands and stream habitats.

“Providing hunter access to public lands is essential to the core values of wildlife conservation and to rural economies,” said John W. Bowers, an assistant chief with the Wildlife Resources Division. “This enhanced opportunity is the result of successful collaboration between the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Wildlife Resources Division.”

The tracts are part of DOT mitigation and will be managed for their wetland and stream benefits. However, the agreement allows the DNR to immediately open the tracts to public hunting and fishing, adding more than 10,000 acres to the state’s WMA system.

The next time you are looking for a place to hunt or fish, why not buy a WMA stamp? It is the least expensive 900,000-acre hunting lease you will ever purchase.
New WMA Lands

Listed by county, WMA or natural area (NA) and acreage.

** Bulloch: Oliver Bridge WMA, 1,560 acres*

** Bleckley: Ocmulgee WMA, 1,127 additional acres

** Long: Townsend WMA, 3,970 acres

** Miller: Mayhaw WMA, 1,685 acres

** Montgomery: Bullard Creek WMA, 1,007 acres

** Taylor: Fall Line Sandhills NA, 700 acres

** Upson: Big Lazer Creek WMA, 1,350 acres

** Walker: Crockford-Pigeon Mountain WMA, 1,048 acres

** Whitfield: Conasauga River NA, 202 acres
*Oliver Bridge is a new WMA.