Pictured left to right: Georgia State Parks Director Jeff Cown, Region Manager Matt Bruner, Seminole State Park Manager Tyler Sims, and GADNR Commissioner Mark Williams.
Seminole State Park was awarded the Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Park and Historic Sites’ Natural Resources Enhancement Award at this year’s State Park and Historic Sites Managers Conference held in north Georgia. Park and Site managers from across the state attended the awards ceremony celebrating those who make more than 60 State Parks and Historic Sites outstanding destinations across Georgia. They also attended training sessions and shared ideas on park operations. Below are this year’s award winners.
Under Manager Tyler Sims’ leadership, Seminole State Park has been exceptionally successful in protecting Longleaf Pine and Wiregrass habitat so crucial to southern Georgia’s ecosystem. Park staff safely burned more than 300 acres with prescribed fire, removed pervasive species such as the tallow tree, and removed invasive species such as Sweet Gum, Chinese Privet and Japanese Climbing Fern. The park’s focus on natural resource enhancement also included new trail signs explaining the importance of the Wiregrass ecosystem throughout the park.
Seminole State Park Manager Sims commented, “I want to thank the community for supporting us, and recognize all of our guests for choosing Seminole State Park and having patience while we have completed these various projects. A special thank you to Region Manager Matt Bruner, Assistant Park Manager Shannon Bell, Administrative Support Angela “Ray-Ray” McAtee and Maintenance Supervisor Stacy Smith, all other park staff, various hosts and volunteers that helped this vision come to life.”
Seminole State Park’s nomination information for the Region 5 Natural Resource Enhancement is as follows: Seminole State Park is one of Georgia State Parks most iconic recreation areas in the southern part of the state. This famous 600+ acre state park is home to Georgia’s dwindling Longleaf, Wiregrass ecosystem. Part of the Seminole mission is to foster this ecosystem in a mutually harmonious manner by managing with interpretation, recreation, and good stewardship in mind. To help accomplish this mission, Seminole utilizes and promotes the wise and careful use of prescribed fire. Our 15 burn units are set up on a two-year prescribed fire rotation. In FY22 we safely burned 300+ acres with prescribed fire, while staying in prescription and without interrupting business operations.
Additional resource goals require reducing/eliminating invasive species. The pervasive Tallow tree has been an area of concern in the park, primarily along the water’s edge. Seeds brought in by birds, wind, and other means have allowed this intrusive tree to infiltrate our park.
This year Seminole has removed and treated hundreds of these mature trees and saplings. To facilitate lake views and mitigate invasive or highly prolific species around the park, Seminole employees have cleared and treated overgrown areas, which were previously inundated with, Sweet Gum, Chinese Privet, Japanese Climbing Fern, Cattails, and pervasive grasses and vegetation. By setting back the succession of these species we are better able to maintain and restore the Longleaf/Wiregrass habitat.
To highlight our local resources, Seminole has installed 49 new numbered interpretive signs. These evenly spaced signs guide hikers along the two-mile trail Gopher Tortoise trail. The interpretive panels engage and educate visitors on park flora and fauna while guiding them back to the trail head.
The newly added signs were also designed with hidden fasteners and treated materials to make them tamper resistant and to increase longevity.
To further encourage outdoor activities for children, a story board trail has been established along the cottage roadside trail. These panels contain 20 depictions which are changed seasonally to help educate, recreate, and entertain children in the outdoors.
Visitors and the local community routinely compliment on the improvements around the park and the added enjoyment it brings to their visit. Seminole is proud to boast a 97.41% visit recommendation rate.