ORAS to host talk on North Georgia’s old-growth forests at May meeting

Author and Executive Director of the Georgia ForestWatch, Jess Riddle, will discuss lessons learned from documenting old-growth forests in North Georgia during ORAS monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2nd, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.


By the early 20th century, agriculture and industrial timber operations had denuded north Georgia of nearly all its forests. However, some remnants escaped. These old-growth forests often do not resemble the stereotypical cathedral groves of giant trees. Instead, easily overlooked stands of weather-beaten trees provide exceptional wildlife habitat, record valuable scientific data, and offer management lessons. In this talk Jess will share his experience documenting old-growth forests in north Georgia. He will discuss where they have survived and why, as well as how to recognize them. The features that make them distinctive are intricately linked to how they function and what we can learn from them.


Jess currently works as the forest ecologist and Executive Director for GeorgiaForest Watch and recently authored the book, Georgia’s Mountain Treasures. Riddle holds a BS in multidisciplinary plant ecology from Furman University and an MS in ecology from SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he studied tree climate-growth relationships. He led the Georgia ForestWatch old-growth project and has contributed to research on disturbance and succession in riparian forests in California, the Midwest, and France. 


The meeting will be held in the Nature Center’s Education and Visitor Center, 205 Old Commerce Road off U.S. Highway 441 north of Athens. To reach the center from the Loop 10 bypass, exit at U.S. Highway 441/Commerce Road and turn north toward Commerce. Go approximately a mile, turn left at the Sandy Creek Nature Center sign and go to the end of the road. Turn left at Old Commerce Road; parking for the Education and Visitor Center will be on the right.