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General news and features

Heading for hike – don’t forget your GORP; New pass required for all use of some state properties


Dawson and Gilmer areas included in places where GORP is required

Submitted by Ga. DNR

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Jan. 4, 2012) - The new Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass has been in effect a few days, and will help with much-needed maintenance on state wildlife areas.

Thirty-two sites managed by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division now require the Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP) for visitors ages 16-64. Exempt from the requirement are individuals who have a valid WMA

License, Honorary License, Sportsmen’s License, Lifetime License or Three-Day Hunting and Fishing License.

In all, Wildlife Resources Division manages more than 100 properties across the state. However, GORP impacts only about one-third of the areas - the spots with the highest traffic by all users.

Wounded soldier makes surprise holiday visit


  “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this community’s support,” says Wes Farron

Above, Wes and Melanie Farron with their son, Asher. The 22-year-old Farron was injured while on active duty in Afghanistan in October. He spent over two months in a Texas hospital.

After surviving massive injuries during a firefight in Afghanistan in October, then spending two months in a Texas hospital recovering from the wounds, 22-year-old Wes Farron and his wife surprised family members by coming home for Christmas.

Throughout his ordeal, Farron said the support of his wife and family, along with the support of this community, helped pull him through.

“The sheer support I had from the town and the church – I had tons of people praying for me. Since I’ve been back, some people have said ‘hey’ to me and ‘thank you,’ and that means more to me than anything,” said Farron. “I don’t expect a thank you. Being a soldier is something I love doing. My family and Melanie’s family, I can’t thank them enough. That’s my main focus, family and the people who’ve supported us the whole way.”

Rep. Jasperse previews upcoming session


Top 5 legislative issues of 2012

State Rep. Rick Jasperse entering his second full legislative session under the Gold Dome believes there are several factors which may make this a very “contentious” session.

Rick Jasperse, who will be entering his second legislative session representing Pickens County and surrounding areas, said the state legislative session this January will likely be contentious.

“With the election year, presidential and others in the state, you will see folks really trying to make political statements,” Jasperse said in a late December interview. “With the redistricting completed there will be several forces that should make this a very interesting session.”

Jasperse previewed in late December what he believes will be the five most newsworthy efforts under the Gold Dome when the legislature goes into session this January.

1.  Budget – “This is number one by far. It’s why we go there.” Jasperse said in Georgia, the governor proposes a budget and “both the house and senate fiddle with it.” At this point the governor’s proposed budget cuts all state agencies two percent except public safety and education.

Plants of the Southeast -- “Sweetgum,” Liquidambar styraciflua


(Photo by Patrick Coin.)     The leaves of the sweetgum instantly separate it from everything else: nothing else has smooth leaves with five (sometimes seven) lobes, these toothy and when crushed, releasing that distinctive medicinal scent.


By John Nelson

I’ve had a long friendship with this tree, commonly called the sweetgum.

My first recollection of it was while still a small boy, seated outside on a summer morning on the porch and crushing its bright green leaves in my hand, and then enjoying a remarkably pleasant, somewhat medicinal fragrance. Once you’ve taken the scent, so to speak, you’ll never forget it.

Georgia River Network Challenge to ‘Paddle 12 Rivers in 2012’


Submitted by April Ingle of the Georgia River Network

You can see the Paddle 12 in 2012 project page.

The idea of community water trails is extremely popular right now and over 30 trails in Georgia are either in the works or completed. A water trail (also referred to as a blueway or canoe trail) is similar to a hiking trail or greenway, only on the water. 

Water trails are being recognized for their benefits to communities which include recreation, economic development, healthy lifestyles, greenspace and more.

“Georgia River Network believes that getting people out on rivers is an effective way to introduce people to river issues and engage them in protection of their local waterways,” says April Ingle, Georgia River Network executive director. “Our annual Paddle Georgia trip down a different river each year is our most popular program. People want more opportunities to connect with Georgia’s wonderful rivers.”

A few examples of some of the trails in Georgia that are featured on the website include:

• The Altamaha Canoe Trail offers 138 miles of trail, originating near Lumber City at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers, emptying and into the Atlantic Ocean. On the canoe trail, you will float past numerous Wildlife Management Areas and Natural Areas, tidal swamps, and rich bottomland forests. The Altamaha River has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the world.