Alison McGee - The Nature Conservancy
Bio: Alison McGee has worked for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for 22 years. Currently the Coastal Plain Program Director, she is Chairman of the Okefenokee-Osceola Local Implementation Team. She is a member of the Longleaf Partnership Council, the Georgia Sentinel Landscape Executive Committee and serves on the steering committees for both the Fort Stewart-Altamaha Longleaf Pine Restoration Partnership and the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. In her career, she has focused on protection, land management and conservation planning projects on the Altamaha River and other priority conservation areas in Georgia’s Coastal Plain. Alison has a BS in Biology from Northern Arizona University, a MS in Biology from Georgia Southern University and a passion for longleaf pine forests.
Talk Title: The Coastal Plain: A Landscape shaped by Fire & Water
Though changes in topography may be slight, Georgia’s Coastal Plain is extremely high in biological diversity. The many ecological systems in the Coastal Plain range from fall-line sandhills to rolling longleaf pine uplands to wet pine flatwoods; from small streams to large river systems; from isolated depression wetlands to Carolina bays to the Okefenokee Swamp. All are shaped by fire’s frequency and intensity, by the hydrologic regime, and by the interplay of the two.
Beryl Budd - Georgia Forestry Commission
Bio: Beryl Budd retired in 2012 from the Georgia Forestry Commission with 34 years of service. Working for 25 years as Chief Ranger in Newton and Rockdale Counties he was responsible for wildfire and forest management activities then as a Forester with the Sustainable Community Forestry Program for the remainder of his career. This program focused on the 42 counties in Northeast Georgia assisting city and county governments with community forest and tree management. Beryl works part time for the Georgia Forestry Commission as a Wildfire Prevention Specialist where he facilitates the Firewise Community program working with county governments in developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans for counties throughout Georgia. Since retiring he also serves as a Team Leader on a National US Forest Service Fire Prevention Team with many wildfire prevention assignments around the country. Beryl is a Consulting Arborist, the City Arborist and Urban Forester for the City of Oxford, and Circuit Rider Arborist for the Georgia Urban Forest Council assisting communities with tree care in northeast Georgia. Beryl graduated from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College with a Forest Technology degree and has been an ISA Certified Arborist since 2001. He lives with his wife in Newborn where they manage the family farm.
Talk Title: Firewise Landscapes
Simple actions can be taken to be more “Firewise” and reduce the risk of wildfire threatening your home and community. Beryl will discuss the actions that any homeowner can take in their landscape coupled with sound forest management activities that reduce the risk from wildfires. He will also show how communities that work together can be recognized as a Firewise Community through the implementation of the International Wildland Urban Interface Code that was adopted for use in Georgia.
Jacob Thompson - Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Bio: Jacob Thompson has worked as a coastal ecologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Section for the past eleven years. During this time, Jacob helped lead a coastal habitat mapping project and a state-wide vegetation monitoring needs assessment. His current responsibilities include conserving and managing rare plants in southeast Georgia, inventorying and mapping high priority habitats, and assisting with coastal land protection efforts.
Jacob holds a B.S. Degree in Biology from Valdosta State University and a M.S. Degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University. While in graduate school, Jacob began his career with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources working as an intern at state natural areas and helping conduct surveys for rare plants.
Throughout his career, he has worked on and led several research and monitoring projects, including studies on pollinator behavior, threats to rare plant populations, depressional wetland biodiversity, vegetation classification, herpetofauna monitoring, and plant community response to management. He currently serves on the Little Saint Simons Island Ecological Advisory Council and the Cannon’s Point Conservation Task Force. Jacob is also an active participant in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a diverse network that leads rare plant conservation in Georgia.
Jacob lives in St. Marys with his wife Amy, eight year-old son Carter, and six year-old daughter Claire.
Talk Title: Rare Species Conservation in the Coastal Plain
Georgia’s Coastal Plain is home to some of the most biodiverse habitats in all of North America. Here, the fire-adapted Longleaf Pine ecosystem was once dominant, stretching over millions of acres throughout the region. Fire-suppression, habitat destruction and alteration, and invasive species now pose significant threats to our native flora. Many plant species endemic to the Longleaf Pine ecosystem and other Coastal Plain habitats have become rare and require conservation efforts for recovery.
Jacob will discuss current rare plant conservation priorities and efforts in Georgia with a focus on the Coastal Plain region. Working with others is critical in conserving rare plants in Georgia. Georgia DNR biologists work closely with partners in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a network of plant conservationists, to protect and manage rare plant species throughout the state.
Philip Juras - artist
Bio: Athens, Georgia, artist Philip Juras portrays the rich aesthetics of a wide range of ecologically intact environments by combining direct observation with the study of the natural science and history of the subject. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (1990) and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree (1997), both from the University of Georgia. Since 2011 he has exhibited his southeastern landscapes at the Telfair, Morris, and Marietta-Cobb museums in Georgia and published two books in conjunction with those exhibits. His Andean landscapes were exhibited in Bogota, Colombia and Washington DC in 2017. His ongoing projects include the tall grass prairie ecosystem in Illinois and fire adapted landscapes of the Southeast. (www.PhilipJuras.com)
Talk Title: Painting Fire, Forests, & Floodplains
It is a fascinating and beautiful endeavor to imagine scenes of nature in the lower southeastern coastal plain as they might have appeared before European settlement—especially if you are a landscape painter enthralled with the presettlement environment. But it can also be challenging considering the centuries of land use that have left so little of it intact. Philip will show some of his favorite paintings of the fires, forests, and floodplains he has explored and discuss the ecology and history that inspired the images.
Lisa Lord - The Longleaf Alliance
Bio: Lisa Lord is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and works with forest landowners in both GA and SC to restore their longleaf forests on behalf of The Longleaf Alliance. Lisa received a B.S. in Wildlife Science and M.Ed. in Biology Education from Auburn University, and is also pursuing a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University. She has worked on numerous land management, restoration, and conservation projects over the last 17 years with several conservation organizations where she was involved in ecological inventories, preserve management, education and outreach, longleaf pine restoration, and conservation easement management and negotiation. Lisa started her own natural resources consulting company in 2013 and consulted for several conservation organizations, land trusts, and private landowners throughout the state juts prior to joining the Alliance staff in 2017. Lisa is also currently the President of the SC Native Plant Society and Vice-Chair of the SC Prescribed Fire Council.
Talk Title: Ecosystem Services - The Value of Nature
Nature-based systems provide numerous benefits including clean air, nutrient cycling, water supply, erosion control, and wildlife habitat. Humans depend on natural systems for our survival. Lisa Lord will talk about some of the tangible and intangible benefits we derive from ecosystems, and how human activities influence those benefits. She’ll also discuss why it’s important to communicate the value of ecosystem “goods and services” to build support for conservation. Although many natural values can’t be quantified, sometimes placing a value on nature can lead to new opportunities and partnerships.