The 1,050-acre Howell Tract, part of the Sheffield Wildlife Management Area, was dedicated last week by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. With the addition of the land, there are now more than 12,200 acres of protected property in the county, according to a news release from the department.
Three elected officials were on site to take part in the dedication and give their remarks, including District 31 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen; District 17 State Rep. Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas; and Board of Commissioners Chairman David Austin.
This tract is part of an area, including Sheffield and Paulding Forest Wildlife Management Area, which the department considers one of its “six priority focus areas for habitat conservation” in Georgia, said Mark Williams, commissioner of the department.
Plans for the tract are to use it for hunting and manage its natural habitat. It is home to the montane longleaf pine and a hardwood forest, Williams said.
“In addition, one of the most important tributaries of the Etowah [River] basin is located here, supporting a diverse fish population,” he said.
The tract was paid for partially through the federal Pittman-Robertson Act, a 10 percent tax on ammunition and firearms, Heath said. The act contributed $1,067,770 for the land, which was purchased in 2012.
“It is the hunters that are funding these things,” he said.
About $324 million are raised on the tax annually, Heath said.
Other funding came from the Georgia Wetlands Streams Trust Fund, the national Wild Turkey Federation, the Dobbs Foundation, the Mountain Conservation Trust, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Recovery Grant and Wildlife Restoration Funds from the division, Williams said.
The property is in Maxwell’s district.
“This tract of land has been taken care of for many years,” Maxwell said.
He said it has been preserved, and there has been no industrialization on the land.
Austin said having the green space can bring in business because industrial companies look for places their employees can enjoy.
“It is amazing how something like this plays into economic development,” Austin said.
The tract is now open for public use, said Regional Supervisor Chuck Waters. All those wishing to hunt on the land must sign in at the Sheffield check station at 1183 Lee Road, Dallas.
Waters encouraged residents who plan to visit the area to go to georgiawildlife.com to see the list of rules for Wildlife Management Areas, and specific rules for the Sheffield area.
Information: visit Georgia wildlife.com/hunting/wildlife-management-areas.