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30 Stories for 30 Years: Protecting Stories, Seen and Unseen, that this Woodland Has to Offer

For our next story, we are so pleased to bring this beautiful piece by Martha Myers, a landowner, member, talented photographer, and great friend to ORLT. We are so thankful for individuals, like Martha, who are committed to protecting their beautiful land and its stories, seen and unseen.

All images taken by Martha Myers on her property in Oglethorpe County.

I have called this woodland in Oglethorpe County home for over forty years. In every season of every year, it has had stories to tell, the most memorable always seeming to unfold in spring. While the exact date is unpredictable, whippoorwills arrive in March and quickly become conductors of what becomes an orchestra of barred owls, phoebes, titmice, cardinals, and Carolina wrens. Hummingbirds make their appearance in April, around the time that randomly flourishing Pinxsters, dogwoods, Georgia buckeyes, and leatherleaf mahonia light up the forest. By May, fawns, occasionally twins, are darting through the woods.

Every so often, spring brings a once-in-a-lifetime story: a single pink lady slipper blooms; a young coyote near the creek decides to enjoy his meal rather than flee; a sunlit fox looks over its shoulder before heading up the drainage; a fluffy barred owl whistles incessantly for food; and a fawn curls up for a nap on the path to the carport. This spring, flapping wings from the creek belonged not to the expected great blue heron, but rather to a pileated woodpecker, who perched momentarily on a nearby sunlit trunk before flying off. And, for the very first time, not one but two fox squirrels appeared, running in tandem toward the creek.

As the stories told by this property have grown in number, so too have nearby houses and acreage devoted to crops and pastures. For this reason, our conservation easement is a restrictive one and only a small percentage of land is designated as a residential envelope, which itself has restrictions. Our hope is that this easement is, in a sense, a secure library that will protect and encourage all of the stories, seen and unseen, that this woodland has to offer in the coming seasons and years.

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