Rangers work behind the scenes for the community

For all its amazing growth in recent decades, it might surprise some that 61 percent of Coweta County is still considered to be forest land. That and a number of aspects related to the work of the Coweta Forestry Unit were presented recently to the Coweta County Commission by Chief Ranger Terry Quigley. The rangers’ often unnoticed, yet important, role touches far more residents than many might imagine.

Quigley in his annual report covering July 2009 through June 2010 noted that the Coweta Forestry Unit responded to issues in the 327,074 acre area that includes Coweta, Fayette and south Fulton counties. Of that area, 171,762 acres are situated in Coweta County, totaling approximately 61 percent of the county’s land mass.

The forestry unit provides a host of services throughout the year. Perhaps the main function recognized by the public is fire suppression. Quigley told commissioners there were 19 fires reported in Coweta during the past year with a total of 43 acres burned. Of those, seven came from burning debris, seven were from machine use, one was from lightning and three were miscellaneous.

Related to fire prevention, the unit last year dug 246 miles of pre-suppression fire breaks for 34 landowners. The unit also assisted in 147 controlled agricultural burns on more than 8,000 acres in Coweta.

The Coweta Forestry Unit also takes an active role in tree planting. The Coweta office in the past year sold 34,556 seedlings to county residents for residential and commercial use. Covering nearly 30 varieties, the seedlings included various pines and oaks, crabapple, wax myrtle, wild plum, cypress, maple and redbud.

Yet another aspect of the forestry unit’s work deals with educational programs for children and adults and speaking to civic groups and homeowners associations. In the past year Quigley and Rangers Jeff Mansour and Dusty Griglen conducted 34 educational programs for 11,874 students, distributed nearly 10,000 brochures and promotional literature and displayed 11 exhibits at local events on fire prevention, water quality, stewardship, reforestation and forest products.

The unit also participated with Coweta Clean and Beautiful, the Sharpsburg Tree Board, the Newnan Tree Board, Newton FFA Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Coweta 4-H, Bert Adams Scout Camp, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Newnan Kiwanis Club and Newnan Civitans.

The Coweta Forestry Unit is located at 137 Corinth Road.