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Georgia ForestWatch is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization based in North Georgia. All donations are tax deductible.

Georgia ForestWatch
81 Crown Mountain Place
Building C, Suite 200
Dahlonega, GA 30533
706-867-0051
info@GAFW.org

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May 27, 2020
Dear ForestWatch Friend,

I suspect you may have had the same experience I did. Your passion for nature and the importance of the mission drew you to Georgia ForestWatch, but you stayed for the wonderful people and community. On ForestWatch outings in the national forest, we not only explore the wonders of nature and learn about the issues facing our forest ecosystems, but also build our own ecosystem. You have made Georgia ForestWatch not only an organization, but also a community.

I know our community continues to care, though circumstances keep us apart. Right now, you may be caring for loved ones, health care workers, or yourself. Thank you for the support you are providing, and please know that we are still with you in spirit even as we can’t be with you physically. ForestWatch staff and volunteers continue to provide care where we are most effective, for our forests and streams.

You can rest assured though that your past generosity has made Georgia ForestWatch into a strong organization able to weather some adversity. Your support has boosted membership to a high of 825, forged ties with strong allies, garnered the respect of the Forest Service (FS), and produced the updated Georgia’s Mountain Treasures book, a stellar foundation for advocating for our most important wild areas. In 2019, ForestWatch’s contributions were formally recognized by the Georgia Water Coalition and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

You can help keep ForestWatch strong with your donation. We know that the pandemic is placing many demands on compassionate people like you right now.
If you are in a position to give, though, your support can help ensure that there is no dip in forest protection.

One benefit of the strong organization you’ve helped to build is a dedicated and talented base of volunteers spread across the forest. Even as people are staying close to home, we can keep an eye on the forest. We are continuing to monitor trail conditions, check on hotspots for illegal motor vehicle activity, and survey tracts of Forest Service land that have been authorized for sale.

Your support also gives ForestWatch legitimacy, so even as the FS was scrambling to respond to the demands of the pandemic, they made time to meet with us about land sales and the Foothills Landscape Project, the largest project in the history of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Your consistent support also allowed ForestWatch to provide important local examples to FS staff in Washington DC who are reviewing proposed rule changes for the National Environmental Policy Act, changes that could gut requirements for public involvement and environmental review of projects.

Even as the FS nationally tries to keep the public at arm’s length, your voice is being heard by the FS in Georgia. During a series of public Foothills meetings in December, FS leaders refused to take questions from the audience at large. Your concern led to a public forum attended by 150 people where the FS presenter took audience questions, and where ForestWatch presented key issues uncovered in our analysis of project documents. You helped us spread the word about how the project could be improved, and over 2,000 people documented their concerns in letters to the FS. The next decisions on Foothills will not be for months, but in spite of national FS pressure for less public disclosure and involvement, the FS in Georgia has reconsidered initial plans and opted for a more robust public process on multiple recent projects.

The Forest needs all of us to help in whatever way we can, so if you are someone who can give financially, please help us build on this momentum with your donation today. Please make a tax-deductible donation to Georgia ForestWatch using the insert or online at gafw.org/donate. You can also help protect Georgia’s national forests with a recurring monthly donation (gafw.org/donate), an IRA distribution, or through our legacy giving program (gafw.org/planned-giving). Thank you for considering financially supporting Georgia ForestWatch.

No one knows how long the current health crisis will last, but we do know that when it’s over, the forests, mountains, and streams of north Georgia will still need your help. We also know that nature will still be there giving us solace, helping us heal, and bringing us together. Please stay well and thank you for all you do for Georgia’s amazing national forests.

Sincerely,

Jess Riddle, Executive Director

P.S. People are now turning to our national forests for refuge and visiting more than ever. The clear streams, unmarred vistas, and shaded trails they find are the legacy of the generosity of you and earlier cherishers of the forest. Your financial support now will help ensure the next generation has an even more vibrant refuge.