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.


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.

Angela Butler-Hackett

Angela Butler-Hackett Angela holds a degree in Recreation Therapy from the University of Georgia, and has focused on wellness for more than 35 years. She has taught fitness and wellness for older adults for over 25 years in settings including independent living, assisted living, long-term care, and physical rehabilitation. Her career path has provided opportunities for management at varying levels. Angela’s ongoing quest for mindfulness and wellness always leads her back to nature and appreciating its resources. Her goal is to support the mission of Georgia ForestWatch in preserving and protecting our natural resources.

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

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