Two generations (Trip Martin and son-in-law Rick Gammon) plan future care of the forest as they stand on an historic wagon road estimated to be over 150 years old. Next to them is a spring that had been used for one of the University research projects made possible by the owners.

Some years ago the Martin family joined with other families to protect a piece of Heaven in the North Georgia Mountains, complete with a clear rushing trout stream. In 2006 their dream of placing the land under permanent protection became a reality as they worked with Southeast Regional Land Conservancy. One of the biggest joys of land trust work can be going back each year for monitoring visits with owners who truly care about the land, as is the case each time we visit the Martins.

Stewards of the land, the Martins keep a close eye on the health of the hemlock trees, the water quality of the stream and springs, and the multitude of other land management concerns. With forethought in mind, they have been adding native trees and shrubs along the stream bank to protect the stability and temperature. Hopefully, before global warming has time to cause further increases in stream temperatures, the vegetation will be tall enough to help ameliorate some of the effects.

When they turned their efforts to revitalizing the small farmland acreage, they weren’t satisfied simply putting alpacas out to pasture. They created a plan beneficial to both the environment and education. Working with the local Natural Resource Conservation Service agency office, they gave protection never before given to the spring areas within the pasture. Aquatic features were fenced off from animals and native restoration species are being planted. The fence closest to the stream was moved 10 ft further from the banks for added protection. Native species have been planted there and a woodchip path now runs the perimeter to allow school children educational visits. But they didn’t stop there. When the compact barn was built for the animals, it was designed with facilities to allow observation of veterinary procedures and also but a room that will enable University students to spend two weeks at a time carrying out research.

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