Rare Turtles Documented At Brasstown Valley

Friday, August 12, 2016
Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa has woven into its identity the legend of a giant turtle that saved Native Americans. The logo of the Young Harris resort features a turtle. A hefty concrete version marks the entrance. The golf course even sports turtle-shaped tee markers.
 
Yet Brasstown Valley can add another celebrated, if much smaller, turtle to its story.
 
Rare bog turtles have been found at the 503-acre resort. That makes Brasstown Valley, state-owned and privately managed, the only Georgia Department of Natural Resources property that has North America’s smallest turtles, a species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
 
Following up on a chance sighting by a citizen, wildlife biologist Thomas Floyd of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section documented bog turtles at Brasstown Valley two summers ago.
Floyd has since caught and tracked nine turtles there, in an area that is not being made public to protect the animals.
 
The find has boosted the spirits of scientists studying the species and bumped to 10 the number of known bog turtle sites in Georgia. Half are thought to contain populations considered viable long-term. Three were found within the last three years. Sites are searched out using historical data, computer modeling, aerial photos and fieldwork.
 
“The more populations we know of, the better we can conserve the species and manage sites,” Mr. Floyd said.
 
Brasstown Valley general manager Charles Burton welcomes news of the turtles.
 
“This is a wonderful discovery and not surprising given that Brasstown was designed by Georgia's DNR as the environmental model of how to design a facility that protects, preserves and co-exists with the environment,” said Mr. Burton, who works for Coral Hospitality, the company managing the resort.
 
Even if they weren’t rare, bog turtles would be easy to miss because of their size, habitat and lifestyle. They grow only about 4½ inches long, live in mountain bogs – one of the Southern Appalachians’ most endangered habitats – and spend much of their lives buried in muck that can reach knee-deep.
 
Bog turtles are found in a highly fragmented range from western Massachusetts to northeastern Georgia. The most pressing threat the species faces is habitat loss, although illegal pet trade is also an issue.
 
DNR monitors populations each summer through trap, PIT-tag and release efforts, often using radio-tracked turtles to better understand the species and their habitats. The Nongame Conservation Section also works with partners including through the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a network of gardens, agencies, businesses and organizations, to monitor and restore mountain bogs.
 
Mr. Floyd views the Brasstown Valley discovery as promising because DNR can manage the site and it’s uncharacteristic for the species, meaning there may be bog turtles in places scientists haven’t checked.
 
“It does give you some hope that bog turtles are doing better than we know,” he said.
 
The great turtle legend has different versions. In the one featured on Brasstown Valley menus, Cherokees survive a flood by riding a massive turtle to safety at Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest natural point and only a few miles from the resort.
 
Bog turtles are best at maneuvering through mud and moss, and they won’t be carrying anything heavier than a tiny radio transmitter on their back. But their presence at Brasstown Valley points to a more hopeful future for conserving this storied turtle.
 
DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, part of the Wildlife Resources Division, works to conserve Georgia’s endangered and other wildlife not legally fished for or hunted, as well as rare plants and natural habitats. The agency depends primarily on fundraisers, grants and contributions for this work.
 
Public support is vital. Help conserve native wildlife such as bog turtles by:
-  Buying or renewing a DNR eagle or hummingbird license plate. Most money from sales and renewals is dedicated to nongame conservation. Upgrade to a “wild” tag for $25.
-  Contributing to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund when filing state income taxes – line 26 on Form 500 or line 10 on Form 500EZ. Giving is easy and any amount helps.
-  Donating directly to the agency. Details at www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/support.
 
Learn more about nongame in Georgia:  www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/annualreport.

Mystery Plant 672: Devil's Shoestring

Man, 60, Dies While Fishing On Kentucky Lake On Sunday

VIDEO by Ben Cagle: 40-Pound Catfish Caught At The Chickamauga Dam


It's easy to see this one while speeding down the highway, blooming now, and well into the summer. This is a perennial species, coming back year after year. It likes to grow in groups, and often ... (click for more)

A 60-year-old Tennessee man lost his life on Sunday, on Kentucky Lake while fishing. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officers responded to a call about an unoccupied boat on Kentucky ... (click for more)



Outdoors

Mystery Plant 672: Devil's Shoestring

It's easy to see this one while speeding down the highway, blooming now, and well into the summer. This is a perennial species, coming back year after year. It likes to grow in groups, and often makes big, crowded patches. Plants produce long, tough roots from a knottly base. The foliage consists of hairy compound leaves arranged alternately (meaning one at a time) up and down the ... (click for more)

Man, 60, Dies While Fishing On Kentucky Lake On Sunday

A 60-year-old Tennessee man lost his life on Sunday, on Kentucky Lake while fishing. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officers responded to a call about an unoccupied boat on Kentucky Lake at approximately 11:15 a.m. A bass boat owned by Daniel E. Keeling from Humboldt, Tn., was found without any occupants near the West Sandy portion of Kentucky Lake. TWRA Wildlife ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee To Hear Election Challenges, Including County Mayor, On Friday Night By Zoom

The Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee will hear two election challenges from Hamilton County, including one for the county mayor race, by Zoom on Friday night. Sabrena Smedley is challenging the county mayor contest on grounds of many cross-over votes by Democrats that she said helped Weston Wamp win. The Hamilton County Election Commission has certified ... (click for more)

Health Department To Begin Administering Pfizer Booster Shots For Ages 5-11

The Hamilton County Health Department will begin administering Pfizer booster shots to individuals ages 5-11 at all Hamilton County Health clinics beginning on Friday. Per the CDC , individuals 5-11 years of age are now eligible to receive a Pfizer booster shot if it has been a minimum of five months after the second shot in their primary series. A parent or legal guardian ... (click for more)

Opinion

Howard Graduates Shined Despite Gang Interruption

I have had many career highlights, but none like the partnership that Lookout Mountain Conservancy has enjoyed with The Howard School for the past 10 years. I have gotten to know hundreds of the students, and I often walk away thinking how fantastic these students are, and yet, how misunderstood. May 20, 2022, is a great example. I attended The Howard School graduation at Finley ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Man And The Tree

During my Morning Readings one day last week I came across an essay that appeared in the Epoch Times on October 27, 2020 entitled ‘The Man’s Pledge.’ It is one of many stories from the newspaper’s readers to its “Dear Next Generation” where the idea is to plant … well, figuratively take a seed pod from an older tree and nurture a seedling that will grow into a new tree. The story ... (click for more)