Atlanta Gas Light Company Promotes Wildlife Habitat On Natural Gas Line Rights-of-Way
April 1, 2003
As Project WINGS takes flight, Georgia landowners are encouraged to transform thousands of "idle acres" along Atlanta Gas Light Company's (AGLC) natural gas pipeline rights-of-way into fertile habitat for quail, turkey, deer and other wildlife.
AGLC is the first natural gas company in the nation to participate in Project WINGS (Wildlife Incentives for Non-Game and Game Species). Administered by Two Rivers Resource Conservation & Development District (RC&D) of LaGrange, the statewide program promotes the creation of wildlife habitat along the rights-of-way beneath electrical power lines. Now, for the first time it will include the land along natural gas pipeline rights-of-way.
"One of Atlanta Gas Light's mandates is to be a good environmental steward," said Lindsay Thomas, senior vice president of governmental affairs and an avid outdoorsman. "This program helps the environment by providing a home for animals and greenspace as well as encouraging natural plantings that reduce the need for mowing."
"What's significant about Project WINGS is the partnership of state, private, federal and local organizations," said Judge Frank Jordan of Columbus, who is president of Two Rivers RC&D. "Any state can replicate the program, and we're glad to give them our format."
Thomas suggested AGLC's participation in the program, which began April 1. Eligible landowners will receive financial grants from AGLC as well as management assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division. Landowners agree to follow typical wildlife practices such as special plowing, brush control and plantings to feed birds and animals.
"Adding Atlanta Gas Light's pipelines to the program will allow us to greatly expand the program's scope," said Forrest Hill, executive director of Two Rivers, an environmental non-profit organization whose members are 14 county governments and four soil conservation districts. "With approximately 1,500 miles of natural gas pipeline, we have the opportunity to create habitat that will benefit wildlife throughout Georgia."
Project WINGS is open to landowners and those who rent land such as hunting clubs. Those who participate in the three-year program will receive a $100-per-acre grant for the first year; $35 per acre for the second year; and no financial incentive the third year. The maximum contract amount is $1,350.
Hill said that since its inception in Georgia in 1996, Project WINGS has paid more than $1.2 million to 1,500 Georgia landowners and 9,000 acres of green corridors for wildlife. The concept of Project WINGS also has grown to include other states.
Landowners with AGLC natural gas pipelines crossing their property can sign up for the program through their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices or by contacting Two Rivers RC&D at 706-885-0101 or www.tworiversrc&d.org.