About Us

Georgia ForestWatch sees a future where people can enjoy forests that have reached their full majesty, where intact natural processes support healthy ecosystems and thriving biodiversity, and clean streams supply water to millions of Georgians. We believe this future requires the protection and appreciation of Georgia’s national forests, and the watersheds, native plants and wildlife they encompass.

Our mission is to promote sustainable management that leads to naturally diverse and healthy forests and watersheds within the 867,510 acres of national forestlands in Georgia; to engage and educate the public to join in this effort; and to promote preservation of this legacy for future generations.

Georgia ForestWatch 81 Crown Mountain Place Building C, Suite 200 Dahlonega, GA 30533 info@gafw.org | 706.867.0051


Jess Riddle

Jess Riddle, Executive Director jriddle@gafw.org Jess Riddle has been instrumental in leading our ongoing work with the U.S. Forest Service and conservation groups. His science based understanding of invasive species, prescribed fire, and the environmental impacts of logging has directly impacted and guided our mission. Jess grew up hiking in the Chattahoochee National Forest where he developed an interest in old-growth forests, champion trees, and native flora.  A trained forest ecologist, he earned his MS from the SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he studied climate influences on tree growth and how that influence varies depending on whether a tree is growing at the southern or northern edge of its range. He has also investigated riparian forests along the Missouri and Sacramento Rivers. Jess is the author of the 2018 edition of Georgia’s Mountain Treasures, an illustrated report showcasing 40 exquisite wild areas within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

Lyn Hopper Office Manager
Lyn Hopper

Lyn Hopper, Office Manager info@gafw.org Lyn is retired from a 30-year public library career, including service as an independent consultant for libraries and nonprofits, Georgia’s Assistant State Librarian for Library Development, and Director of the Chestatee Regional Library System. She holds post-graduate degrees from Emory University and Florida State University. Lyn lives north of Dahlonega and enjoys a view of the national forest from her front deck.

Janice Eaton

Janice Eaton, Development Director jeaton@gafw.org After spending the first part of her career in the corporate world, Janice Eaton found her calling in non-profit work. Her 20 years of experience include service as Executive Director of Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, Community Arts Program Manager for Georgia Council for the Arts, and most recently Founding President of Acadiana Native Plant Project, which she continues to serve as a Technical Advisory Board member. Her responsibilities comprised organizational management, volunteer development, fundraising, grant writing and administration, educational and special event production, project management, partner cultivation, promotions, and social media management. An Atlanta native, lifelong organic gardener, and antique rose enthusiast, Janice obtained her Master Gardener and Master Naturalist certifications while living in Louisiana. She has also authored and co-authored a number of nonfiction adult titles and children’s books including The Book of Wizard Craft, which has been published in 19 languages to date.

Andrew Linker

Andrew Linker, Outreach Coordinator  alinker@gafw.org Deciding to be the change he wishes to see, Andrew has become involved in many community efforts in the region. Currently Andrew spends much of his time creating, promoting, and educating about the value of sustainable agriculture. His passions are readily adapted to helping folks connect with our National Forests and understand wise management practices. If he is not on the computer creating visuals of all sorts, you can find him cultivating/foraging edible plants, commuting on two wheels, or exploring the streams and high places of Northeast Georgia. Andrew attended the University of North Georgia and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Studies with a Certificate in Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.) from the Institute of Environmental and Spatial Analysis.

GFW Board of Directors:
Marie Dunkle, Board President
Anne Heikkila, VP/President Elect
Trushar Mody, Board Treasurer
Melanie Vickers , Secretary
Phyllis Bowen
Sue Harmon
Tom Crawford
Tom MacMillan
John Moeller
Denny Rhodes

Donald Davis
Ted Doll
Sarah Francisco
David Govus
Robin Hitner
Patrick Hunter
Bob Kibler, M.D.
Gina Rogers
Charles Seabrook
Dennis Stansell
James Sullivan
Mary Topa

2019 Volunteer District Leaders:

Conasauga Ranger District
David Govus
Robin Hitner

Blue Ridge Ranger District
Sally Colkett
Tom Colkett

Chattooga River Ranger District
Ben Cash
Marie Dunkle

Oconee Ranger District
J.P. Schmidt
Caleb Walker
Larry Winslett