Conservancy Receives 2,300 Acre Land Donation in North Georgia

 

Charles B Henson Preserve contains 30+ caves, stands of hardwood trees, and stunning vistas.

 
Photo: Alan Cressler

Photo: Alan Cressler

 

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. recently received a donation of more than 2,300 acres in Northwest Georgia from an anonymous donor, as well as additional acreage from the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Inc. Together, the donated property constitutes most of the failed development called the Preserve at Rising Fawn, located at Johnsons Crook in Dade County, Georgia.

The property includes more than 30 known caves, stands of hardwood trees in a stunning landscape, and a diverse ecological environment supporting wildlife of all kinds. This donated land will be named the Charles B. Henson Preserve at Johnsons Crook, honoring the memory of Chuck Henson, a long-time caver and benefactor to the Conservancy. His recognition of the risks of development to the fragile systems of Johnsons Crook and the opportunity for conservation began the efforts to protect the land and make the preserve a reality.

The partnership with the Land Trust has made it possible for this natural resource to be protected and enjoyed forever by cavers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The Conservancy wants the Henson Preserve to be an asset to Dade County and the North Georgia community.
— Ray Knott, Executive Director of SCCi

For over six years, Georgia-Alabama Land Trust worked to protect many parcels in the failed development as they became available, through the acquisition of land and through conservation easements. It now holds a permanent conservation easement on all of the land in the Henson Preserve. The Land Trust’s Johnson's Crook Project was accomplished through private and corporate donations, and support from foundations such as the Open Space Institute's Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund. Open Space Institute’s Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund is made possible with funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Benwood Foundation. The Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund seeks to build capacity of land trusts working to protect ecologically significant landscapes in northwest Georgia.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that this project all came together,” said Katherine Eddins, Executive Director of Georgia-Alabama Land Trust. “The importance of preserving Johnson’s Crook first came to my attention fifteen years ago, and it has been gratifying to see land once slated for development preserved in its natural state.”

Photo: Georgia-Alabama Land Trust

Photo: Georgia-Alabama Land Trust

“The partnership with the Land Trust has made it possible for this natural resource to be protected and enjoyed forever by cavers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts,” said Ray Knott, Executive Director of SCCi. “The Conservancy wants the Henson Preserve to be an asset to Dade County and the North Georgia community.”

The Conservancy will work with community partners to develop a master plan for the Henson Preserve. “Conserving this amount of land comes with a lot of responsibility and cost. Stewardship, trails, and basic recreation structures can be costly. We will need the input and support of many partners to make the Henson Preserve a North Georgia destination,” stated Knott.

About Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi): SCCi is the world’s largest land conservancy solely dedicated to saving caves. SCCi protects more than 170 caves on 4,500 acres in six southeastern states. Founded in 1991, SCCi is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. To learn more about SCCi and wild cave conservation, visit www.SaveYourCaves.org.

About Georgia-Alabama Land Trust: The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Inc. is a nonprofit conservation organization that actively works to protect and steward land. We are the largest land trust that services the Southeastern region of the United States. For more information on protecting land in Alabama and Georgia, visit www.GeorgiaAlabamaLandTrust.org.