Chatt hills receives national recognition

Mon, 06/26/2006 - 8:21am
By: The Citizen

Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy has received national recognition for wetlands conservation thanks to a grant from one of the world’s leading environmentally conscious wine brands, Banrock Station Wines, in cooperation with The Conservation Fund, America’s top-rated environmental charity. The partnership announced grants to 10 environmental and conservation groups committed to saving wetlands and waterways across the nation.

“Banrock Station Wines is working for wetland and native species restoration across the globe,” said Tony Sharley, environmental scientist and Banrock Station Manager. “As a part of that effort, we have created these awards to recognize conservation groups that are saving wetlands in their own backyards. Banrock Station embraces the environmental maxim of thinking globally and acting locally.”

For the past five years, Banrock Station has worked with The Conservation Fund in the United States to help protect and restore wetlands, working with local organizations in thirteen different states. On a broader platform, Banrock Station has championed wetland conservation worldwide by donating over $3 million to over 40 projects in nine different countries.

The Conservation Fund administers the Banrock Station Wetlands Conservation Program grants to organizations working to restore and conserve wetlands at the local level. Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy was awarded a grant for its work to implement a sustainable land use plan that protects the ecological health and quality of life in a 65,000-acre area along the Chattahoochee River, 20 minutes from metro Atlanta. The funding will be used to protect 13 acres of wetlands bordering White Oak Creek, one of the priority streams in the Chattahoochee Hill Country.

“We are passionate about taking a proactive stance on preserving and saving Georgia’s beautiful wetlands. The value of wetlands and intermittent streams are immeasurable,” said Stacy R. Patton, former President of Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy. “We feel privileged to have been selected by Banrock Station to help us continue to do what is our passion, preserving and protecting the environment.”

“Thanks to the extraordinary commitment and vision of Banrock Station and Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy, we are protecting some of Georgia’s most vulnerable wildlife habitat, preserving water quality and creating recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts,” said The Conservation Fund’s president, Larry Selzer. “On behalf of The Conservation Fund and the Banrock Station Wetlands Conservation Program, I congratulate Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy and applaud its efforts to protect America’s unmatched natural resources.”

Recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies indicate that the U.S. currently loses nearly 60,000 acres of wetlands each year. Although the rate of loss has slowed, thanks in part to the commitment of groups like Banrock Station and Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy, total forested wetland acreage in the US has dropped to less than 50 million, an all-time low.

Wetlands are known as "biological supermarkets" and “nurseries of life” because of their high biological productivity. They help regulate water levels within watersheds, improve water quality, reduce flood and storm damages, provide habitats for fish and wildlife, and support fishing and other recreational activities.

A major part of the Banrock Station success story is the relationship between good earth, fine wine and sponsorship of environmental projects around the world. Banrock Station pioneered environmental wine marketing, with part of the proceeds from wine sales going toward the restoration of wetlands in nine different nations.

Banrock Station has created an exceptional wetlands preserve at the winery itself, a 4,200-acre wetland and bushland on the banks of the River Murray, in South Australia. Banrock Station has worked with various environmental organizations over the past eleven years to rehabilitate the property, which in 2002 received the RAMSAR Wetland Conservation Award and was recognized as a “Wetland of National Importance.”

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