Tag Archives: South Georgia Ecotourism

Banks Lake, Lanier County


Banks Lake is a natural blackwater lake characterized by shallow water and cypress trees. Located just east of Lakeland, it was owned for much of the 2oth century by the family of Governor Ed Rivers.


Joshua Lee operated a grist mill here in the mid-1800s. When he dammed the Carolina bay  on his property, the lake was created.


Unsubstantiated sources suggest that Governor Ed Rivers’ family attempted to develop the area in the 1920s and that his estate threatened to drain and log the lake in the 1970s, but regardless, the property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1980, assuring its preservation. In 1985, the Conservancy sold the lake to the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who redesignated it Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.


With around 20,000 visitors per year, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the least crowded parks in the system. It almost feels like a roadside park because, effectively, it is. There are docks and a short boardwalk and an outfitter on site. A gentleman I met on the dock told me that fishermen tie strips of cloth to trees to find their way around. It’s apparently quite thick with cypress.


Banks Lake is part of the Grand Bay-Banks Lake ecosystem, the second largest freshwater wetland in Georgia, after the Okefenokee Swamp.


The refuge, managed by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, does not have on-site staff. Fishing is allowed, for those with valid licenses.

Lanier County Ga Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

For information on this natural wonder of Georgia, please visit the refuge website.



Filed under --LANIER COUNTY GA--, Lakeland GA

Moody Forest Natural Area, Appling County

moody-forest-natural-area-longleaf-pine-forest-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2012In 2001, the Nature Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources purchased 3,500 acres from the Moody family, which had owned and managed the land for generation. Subsequent purchases by the state added another 1,000 acres and today the entire property is operated under a cooperative agreement between the two partners…The arrangement–the first public-private conservation partnership in the state–has proven to be more effective than either group could have hoped for… –From the Nature Conservancy’s Moody Forest Fact Sheet.
Cypress and tupelo are the dominant trees of the bottomlands at Moody Forest. Many of the trees are so old that they’re a wonder in themselves, a living monument to a wild Georgia that is all but gone.
 Numerous natural ponds and wetlands can be found here throughout most of the year.
 The forest borders the mighty Altamaha River, which is particularly beautiful here.
I’ve consistently found some of the largest sandbars on the river near Moody Forest.
 Enjoy your time here and take the time to really look at the forest on your way out. Wildlife reigns supreme and you never know what you might see.

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Filed under --APPLING COUNTY GA--