Silver Lake keeps changing, improving

By Justin Schuver

The Silver Lake Management Wildlife Management Area is one of the more pristine, naturally beautiful parts of Decatur County, and Greg Flood is determined to help keep it that way.

Flood was hired earlier this year, to serve as the first full-time manager of the 9,828-acre property, which is currently maintained by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The property, which is a part of the larger 16,900-acre Lake Seminole Wildlife Management Area, had been previously managed by the International Paper Company.

At that time, it was a playground of sorts for company officials and their guests to hunt or fish. International Paper sold the property to the state in 2008, with the DNR specifically planning to use it to manage wildlife and habitat preservation.

Recreational activities offered at the public site include hunting, fishing, birdwatching and hiking, with some restrictions. The property is also significant because of the number of threatened or endangered species that have habitats there, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, Bachman’s sparrow and gopher tortoises.

Flood, who is originally from Pennsylvania, said one of the main projects under way at the Silver Lake WMA is an initiative to foster growth in the bobwhite quail population.

“There are not a lot of state-owned properties where you can hunt quail in Georgia,” Flood said. “We believe that this area can be well suited to hosting that population, and boosting the quail will also help the hunting for deer, turkeys and doves because they have similar habitats.”

Part of the management plan is to create open fields to serve as nesting and brooding cover for quail, as well as additional land for feed plots and dove fields.

The Silver Lake WMA has 12 boat ramps and 32 seasonal ponds for fishing, as well as the massive Silver Lake. However, the vast majority of management deals with the forest. One of the most important ways the forest’s growth is managed, is through controlled burns.

“Fire is always one of the most important ways that a forest remains healthy,” Flood said.

Flood earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from California University of Pennsylvania, and has experience working with pine management and surveying threatened and endangered species in Michigan. Although Flood admits he sometimes “misses the snow,” he is getting used to life in the South.

“This is a beautiful part of the country, and I’m excited to do what I can to help keep it beautiful,” he said.

The Silver Lake WMA is effectively divided by a dam that traverses over Silver Lake. One side, the “Silver Lake tract,” is more cleared out and developed, while the Hog Farm tract is more thickly overgrown. Flood said the future focus will primarily be on the Hog Farm tract, which will serve as the site for much of the planned bobwhite quail habitat.

Other changes on the way include improvement and widening of the roads, and lengthening of some of the horse and hiking trails.

Silver Lake WMA is located approximately 10 miles south of Bainbridge, off Yates Spring Road south of Spring Creek Road. For more information, call (229) 430-4254 or visit online at www.georgiawildlife.com.

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