Here in Georgia, when we think of trees, live oaks and pines usually come to mind, but chances are you haven’t heard of some of the rarer plant species that can be found across our state.
In fact, there is only one place in the world you can find the Georgia alder and that is Drummond Swamp tucked away in Bartow County. Most of the land is owned and managed by Georgia Power and the company has gone to great lengths to protect this rare plant species and its habitat.
In partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Power biologists have collected Georgia alder seeds at Drummond Swamp in an act to safeguard the plant. Some seeds will be planted in suitable areas and others will be placed in long-term storage to help ensure the survival of the species.
The Georgia alder is just one of the many rare plant species that Georgia Power is working to preserve on the company’s properties and right-of-way corridors. Conservation efforts are also underway to protect the federally threatened Georgia rockcress.
Along Goat Rock reservoir north of Columbus, Georgia Power and our partners on this project, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Columbus State University, are actively removing invasive exotic vegetation to improve the critical habitat for this beautiful perennial. Since the habitat includes steep, rocky bluffs, rappelling must be used to reach some areas.
Another example is found farther south in Brantley County where you may stumble across the hairy rattleweed which is a federally endangered plant species whose entire distribution is restricted to only two counties in Georgia. The plant is a pine flatwood perennial that is named for the white, cobweb like hairs that cover its stems; it was added to the endangered plant list in 1978. Despite the federal status of the plant, hairy rattleweed continues to thrive under Georgia Power transmission lines where the company has modified its vegetation management techniques in an effort to protect the species.
“This ongoing conservation work is imperative to help keep endangered species from disappearing and prevent other species from becoming endangered,” said Jim Ozier, Georgia Power Environmental Specialist. “We are proud of our work thus far and the relationships we have built along the way with our state, federal and non-governmental partners to make these efforts a success.”
Protecting these rare plant species may seem like a small part of the big picture, but their survival plays a critical role in the overall health of the larger ecosystem and the place we all call home. Georgia Power’s commitment to environmental stewardship is unwavering as the company continues to work to preserve the natural legacy of our state.