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Grand Bay-Banks Lake Stewardship Partnership - Phase 2

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept.

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The Grand Bay-Banks Lake ecosystem are major parts of an expansive palustrine wetland complex over 18,000 acres in south-central Georgia in Lanier and Lowndes Counties near Valdosta. The wetland is co-owned by Moody Air Force Base AFB Georgia Department of Natural Resources DNR, Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area WMA U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy TNC. The site contains excellent examples of pine flatwoods, evergreen hammocks and an interconnected network of Carolina bays that form Georgias second largest wetland complex. These diverse communities provide habitat for several rare species including Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Wood Storks, Sandhill Cranes, round-tailed muskrats, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. Hydrology and fire are the two underlying components that drive most ecosystems in the Southeastern United States. The Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program has funded, under the direction of partnership coordinator The Nature Conservancy, the development of preliminary hydrological and fire management plans for the area as well as a monitoring plan to track the impacts of management action or inaction on the rare species and natural communities found at Grand Bay-Banks Lake GBBL. Other components of this project include mapping of current and historic vegetation at the site, and a description of the presettlement fire regime and vegetation of the GBBL area. The current and historic vegetation mapping project conducted a change analysis. In the absence of frequent fire, the Carolina bays are shifting from open marsh communities to scrub-shrub communities. This is resulting in a decrease in habitat needed for rare species at GBBL. The fire management plan make recommendations on how to increase the frequency of fire at the site to return GBBL to a larger percentage of open marsh communities.

Subject Categories:

  • Ecology
  • Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology

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