Decatur-Seminole Forestry Unit named 2018 South Georgia Co-Unit of the Year

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Decatur-Seminole County Forestry Unit was named a Georgia Forestry Commission 2018 South Georgia Co-Unit of the Year.

This is the third time the Decatur County unit has earned this distinction, and the first time the combined Decatur-Seminole County unit has earned the unit of the year. This marks the fifth time the Decatur County unit has been nominated. The Worth County unit was named as the other South Georgia co-unit of the year.

The Decatur-Seminole Forestry Unit consists of Chief Ranger Rodney Heard, Decatur County Rangers Bryan Cottles, Terry Heard and Van Smith, and Seminole County Rangers Gabe Lowry and Keith Revells.  The Forestry Rangers traveled to Georgia’s Capitol in February to be recognized by the Governor and members of the General Assembly.

They were further recognized with Senate and House resolutions, which both cited the unit for “its outstanding accomplishments in the areas of wildfire prevention and suppression, reforestation and seed collection, community outreach and education, and unselfish assistance in extreme weather incidents, both in and out of county.”

Members of the unit assisted in the clearing of roads within hours of Hurricane Michael’s passing, and they are continuing numerous efforts toward the recovery of the devastating storm. The rangers also assisted the county’s emergency management agency with emergency shelters such as deploying cots and other supplies such as pallets of water and food.

Rangers from the Decatur County unit were also deployed as a chainsaw strike team to Atkinson, Coffee and Lanier counties for Hurricane Irma recovery efforts.

Throughout the year, the unit had 31 control burn assists of 2,401 acres, which part of that was 800 acres to enhance elephant habitat for the Elephant Aid International sanctuary near Attapulgus.

There were 73 wildfires, with the average size being 5.795 acres. The largest in Decatur County was 41.33 acres, and the largest in Seminole County was 85.37 acres.

Other important missions of the Forestry Unit are reforestation and seedling sales and collections. The Decatur-Seminole unit sold 18,150 seedlings. Rangers collected 147 gallons of seed, which included wild plum, persimmon and bald cypress seeds; and, they coordinated and assisted with the collection of more than 2,060 bushels of longleaf cones on the Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Among the other accomplishments were 126 miles of firebreaks plowed and 1,352 miles of firebreaks were harrowed; 70 Forestry Unit harrow bearings were disassembled, repaired and rebuilt; and 912 irrigation well flow meters were read.

Chief Ranger Heard also headed up the remodeling of the Decatur, Miller, Grady, Mitchell-Baker, Colquitt, Turner and Ben Hill-Irwin units.