Ohoopee Dunes Preserve protects 267 acres of sandhill community in Emanuel County, near Swainsboro in eastern Georgia. The preserve is but a small part of the whole Ohoopee River dune system, which stretches over 35 miles along the river and covers around 40,000 acres. Unique to Georgia, the system is comprised of large oval dunes believed to have been formed around 20,000 years ago.
The nutrient-poor soil gives rise to stunted vegetation. Mosses and lichens carpet the ground, and rare evergreen shrubs like rosemary and scarlet basil add color and aroma. The small and twisted trees are mostly turkey oaks and other dwarfed oaks. One tree about 6” in diameter is estimated to be 138 years old. Several imperiled animals inhabit the site as well, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the threatened Eastern indigo snake, and the state-threatened gopher tortoise. Reptiles like coachwhip snakes, rattlesnakes, fence lizards, and racerunners are common, and birds like barn owls and chuck-will’s-widows are present.
The Ohoopee River dune system was registered as a State Natural Area by the Department of Natural Resources in 1972 and as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1974. The Nature Conservancy purchased the preserve’s land in 1991 from the Boy Scouts of America. Currently the Conservancy is involved in a major cross-organization planning process to prioritize protection efforts here and conducts prescribed burns.
The Nature Conservancy encourages visitors to explore the Ohoopee Dunes State Natural Area adjacent to the preserve. For more information, call Preeya Philipps at (404) 253-7216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org