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Programs raise wildlife awareness
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SOCIAL CIRCLE — A frogs exhibit at Georgia Southern University. A bird-watching program drawing young and old through Columbus State University’s Environmental Learning Center at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park. Georgia Wildlife Federation’s new online guide to host plants for butterflies and moths.

All of the above share an obvious emphasis on wildlife and education.

What’s not obvious: The Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife program helped fund each of them.

Travelers around Georgia this summer can enjoy the fruit of seeds sown through this decade-old Georgia Wildlife Resources Division program.

Check out the frogs exhibit at Georgia Southern’s Center for Wildlife Education or the new diamondback terrapin exhibit at Tybee Island Marine Science Center. Enjoy the wildlife attracted by bird feeders and other enhancements added along the city’s Riverwalk by the Woodbine Woman’s Club. Scan the marshes of Glynn from a wildlife-viewing platform opened last fall on the Jekyll Island causeway.

Or, learn about native plants and butterflies and moths without leaving home via new information compiled by the Georgia Wildlife Federation at Viewers who click "Guide to Native Plants of Georgia for Wildlife" will find details on planting and caring for everything from black cohosh — a larval food plant for the spring azure butterfly — to American wisteria, a host plant for five butterfly species.

Terry Tatum, the federation’s vice president of development, said the support from Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife was critical.

The work ties in with the Georgia Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy guiding Wildlife Resources and Georgia Department of Natural Resources efforts to conserve biological diversity. The federation also is not done with raising awareness online about native plants and pollinators.

"I think it’s going to be an ongoing project," Tatum said.

Other recent recipients in the Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife program vary from Atlanta Audubon Society to Tidelands Nature Center. The program, sidelined temporarily by budget cuts this year, is administered by the Nongame Conservation Section and supported by hummingbird and bald eagle license plate sales and the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff.

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