The Trust for Public Land recently purchased a 20-acre tract along the Soque River, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River in Habersham County, with the intent of adding it to the Chattahoochee National Forest, according to a news release from the trust.
The property is bounded on two sides by the national forest adjacent to the Tray Mountain Wilderness Area, a rugged 9,700-acre landscape named after the dominant Tray Mountain peak, the release said.
The National Forest Service worked with the trust, a national conservation organization, to look into purchasing the property from Rabun County Bank, following a foreclosure.
“Protecting this Soque River property will help the public access thousands of acres of publicly owned national forest,” said Curt Soper, The Trust for Public Land’s Georgia state director.
“This particular stretch of river is also home to a significant population of brook trout, Georgia’s only native trout species,” Soper added.
The Soque is 30 miles long and popular with fly fishers, but access has been limited, according to the release.
“This is another illustration of our strong and valuable partnership with The Trust for Public Land to conserve important land and water resources,” said George Bain, forest supervisor for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.
“Besides helping to protect the Soque River, this acquisition has the potential to enable more effective forest management by further consolidating public lands, helping to reduce management costs and challenges,” Bain said.
Support from the Turner Foundation and Trout Unlimited helped make the purchase possible.
The forest also made some purchases earlier this year, adding 548 acres to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest with funds made available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Those included an 8-acre tract on the Chattahoochee River north of Helen, a 100-acre tract in Gilmer County and a 440-acre tract in Putnam and Jones counties.